Skip to main content

30 Days of Christmas: Kuswar


In a country as culturally diverse as India, it is easy to miss on all the good things that go on in different parts of the country. Or even in your own city. Take Christmas treats - I've always associated Christmas in India with plum cake. A cross between fruit cake and the British plum pudding, the cake is rich with dried fruits and nuts, boozy enough to make you drunk and deliciously dark brown because of the added caramel. Plum cake is something that springs up all over Mumbai, possibly all over India mid-December and I've always thought that this is the only Christmas goodie making the rounds every year.

For the first time this year, I've spent Christmas surrounded by East Indians and Goan Catholics and imagine my surprise on discovering a whole world of Christmas goodies I've never heard about. So if you are as unaware as me, let me introduce you to the concept of kuswar. A Goan Catholic tradition, kuswar refers to the collection of treats that are made at home before Christmas. They are then packed in pretty boxes and handed over to visiting friends and family. Three packages of kuswar have made their way to my home this year and you bet there are at least ten things there I've never seen, eaten or even heard of before. Like most things Indian, kuswar derives inspiration from the British as well as from Konkani desserts and Hindu diwali sweets, leading to a mishmash of 20-odd recipes. Fortunately, the treat boxes I got all had a different selection so I seem to have tasted all the usual suspects this year. Plum cake will always remain a favourite, but I now bring to you a list of my new favourites from the Christmas treats I received:

1. Guava Cheese: Ripe guavas cooked with sugar until they are firm and pureed to form jelly squares. Either from the guava's natural color or because of added coloring, the guava cheese is bright red. Because of the high pectin in guavas, it naturally sets into solid squares, something akin to a quince jelly. The flavour, all tart and sweet and fresh at once, is a great contrast to any salty crackers or sharp cheeses you can find.

2. Milk Cream: This sweet will remind you of cashew barfi, condensed milk and mawa cake all at once. Made by reducing whole milk, sugar and ground cashews to a thick fudge, milk cream is always too sweet but nonetheless delicious.

3. Kulkul: Sweet and crisp fried dough that reminds you of shakarpara, shaped like a fusilli. What's not to like!

4. Coconut Ice: This one's pretty much like your coconut barfi but is firmer and has a smoother texture.

There are a few other things that will make an appearance in your kuswar boxes but I can't say I love them. Karanji - fried dough filled with cocount, as well as marzipan is almost always there. You will also get some form of Christmas cake - another variation on the fruit cake covered with marzipan and fondant - but it's either too rich or two sweet for me. I'd take another slice of that plum cake instead.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Blog Picks : Soft Yogurt Sandwich Rolls

Much before I started blogging, I started reading through food blogs. And bookmarking recipes I would like to try some time. The list has grown so long that it would soon be enough to last me a lifetime. So I have decided to give my experiments in the kitchen a rest and go the tried and tested way with choice picks from my favorite blogs. The first blog pick comes from a baker who inspired me to bake my first cookie. I never miss a recipe on her blog, but this one was specially appealing. For I haven't graduated to baking a loaf yet and I wanted to bake buns before I take the big leap. So here comes this recipe for soft sandwich rolls and I promptly bookmarked it. Nicole has an excellent step-by-step recipe on her site so I am not going to repeat it here. But I must say that the buns were easy to make, and super yummy. I halved her recipe and made smaller rolls so ended up with eight of them. They never reached the making sandwiches stage because a few were eaten straight

Healthy Spinach Rice for Microwave Potluck Party

Is it really two years that Srivalli has been running her innovative microwave cooking event . She's prompted me to try my microwave for more than just heating several times. Just like last year, Srivalli celebrates the event anniversary with a potluck party . I took a dessert to the party last time around, but this time I was rooting for something healthier. I turned to last year's roundup, and there was this spinach rice . Valli, hope you don't mind getting the same dish on the menu again. To make spinach rice, wash and soak 1/2 cup rice. In a microwave safe dish, heat a tsp of ghee for 30 seconds. Add 5-6 peppercorns and heat for another 10 seconds. Now add a small onion, chopped finely and microwave for another 30 seconds. Add a cup of finely chopped spinach, 1/2 a tsp of garam masala and another 1/2 tsp of salt. Mix and cook for 2-3 minutes until the spinach wilts. Add rice to the bowl, and a cup of water then pop it back in the microwave for 5 minutes. Bring it

Announcing AWED : Britain

Before I ate my first Italian wood fired pizza, before I went to that swanky Japanese sushi bar for the first time, or the neighborhood Chinese joint, the first non-Indian cuisine I encountered was British. Not real food, mind you, but the tempting, oh so delicious descriptions in my favorite novels. From Enid Blyton to Jane Austen to P.G. Wodehouse, every favorite character in every favorite novel seems to have food on their mind. Yes, British food gets ridiculed a lot. But forget their main course dishes for now, and think of the full English breakfast and the elegant afternoon teas. Then try imagining the world without cucumber sandwiches or potato chips and you will realize you can't do without British food. Which is why when I saw that DK was looking for hosts for her monthly event AWED (A Worldly Epicurean's Delight) and there has never been a British AWED, I promptly signed up. The rules are simple really: Make any vegetarian or vegan British dish (eggs are