Mumbai Food: Binge on yummy Christmas treats from Kolkata
Roll out the festivities early at a home-dining experience packed with culinary treats, stories and nostalgia from the City of Joy
Christmas Pudding with Brandy Butter
Two years ago, we made our bucket list trip to Kolkata during Christmas week. We can vouch that the festival, commonly known as Boro Din (Big Day) transcends all religions and is celebrated with fervour. Tuck into traditional goodies that bring in a whiff of Kolkata during Christmas, in a celebratory meal prepared by Bandra-based Pia Promina DasGupta Barve this Sunday. The meal will feature a few contemporary dishes too.
Soaked with nostalgia
"While Park Street, New Market and Bow Barracks are known for their festive vibe, even in small pockets of the city like Gariahat, you will find a babu in a shop asking for a small fruit cake and a mini Christmas tree," shares the 63-year old Bengali home chef. "Christmas has been a big deal in the city, particularly owing to the remanants of the anglicised club culture from the Raj. In my home, we would cook meals and order the rest from the Bengal Club. Many parents had a large friend circle that would gather in somebody's lawn and do a pot luck. Each one was in charge of one dish. They would play the piano, sing and dance to The Beatles' hits. Bearers were hired from the club. I miss that culture, and this is my way to relive those memories and cherish my parents," reminisces Barve. "Their parties would include up to 60 people. Pork and a bird were essential in the meal. Turkey wasn't easily available at the time, so it was usually goose. I am doing some of those dishes and some that my mother cooked, like the Liver Pate. I'm making it with chicken liver," she adds.
This Polish-Style Roast Duck has a filling of apple and vodka
Ginger bread cookies
Eat your heart out
Barve's meals will serve dips, pates, toasts and biscuits. "I was the only one at home who baked bread, so my mother always asked me to do it, and I love it," admits Barve. There will also be Rolled Mops (pickled fish with horseradish sauce) and Smoked Norwegian Salmon Fillet. "My mother did a Bhetki fish preparation but I am sure she would do salmon if it was easily available back then. I will smoke the salmon myself," she informs. Also, on the menu is Fresh Leg of Ham served with beer sauce, Polish-Style Roast Duck with a filling of apples and vodka, and home made Egg Mayonnaise, that according to barve is the most important accompaniment for a festive meal like this. "The Calcutta Club used to do a great leg of lamb. They would boil it in juices. I boil it in beer," reveals Barve, who sources her ingredients locally except for a few supplements like Gur Batsha (a jaggery sweet) and cheese from a town called Bandel in West Bengal. "If you ask me, what I do with these ingredients, I won't tell you my secret," she teases. On the side, there will be Sauteed Vegetables, Baked jacket Potatoes, Creamed Spinach and breads. For dessert, Christmas Pudding with Brandy Butter will be served with assorted cakes and cookies followed by a round of coffee. If you miss the gourmet meal, you can also pre-order the goodies that she will have delivered.
When Mother Teresa met Humpty Dumpty
"When I was 10, I was part of a group of kids called Humpty Dumpty who would do charity. My grandmother was the president of the group. Each year, we would celebrate Christmas at Mother Teresa's orphanage on JC Bose Road in Kolkata. One parent would fund the tree; everyone would chip in for food and decorations, and we would get NGOs to donate films to screen," recalls Barve, adding, "In 1962, we did a play to collect funds for this. We collected Rs 33 and 50 paise. My aunt added her gold medal to make it Rs 34, and we gave it to the then Governor. When I met Mother Teresa just before she passed away, she still called me 'Humpty Dumpty,'" says Barve.
ON: December 18, 1 pm
AT: Bandra Talao, Bandra (W). (Venue will be disclosed after a booking confirmation)
COST: Rs 2,200
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