Skip to main content

30 Days of Christmas

I have always been a big fan of Christmas. Now remember that when I was growing up, Christmas did not even register as a festival on social calendars as it does now. There were no trees, no overly decorated shopping malls filled with Christmas music and certainly no gifts. But for our family, there was a difference. Up until high school, my family lived on the first floor of this two storey house. Our ground floor neighbours were Catholics and when you live in the same house for as long as we did, you practically think of them as family. As a kid, I wondered at the Chistmas tree when they invited us to visit and marvelled at the wreaths and holly and their traditions of midnight mass. And on Christmas day, I looked forward to cake. Every year, like clockwork, they would show up on the morning of 25th December with a plum cake. In 1990s Amritsar, this was both rare and fascinating.

I loved Christmas then and I've never stopped loving it since. I love the Christmas markets, even the ones that happen inside crowded shopping malls. And I watch every Christmas movie ever made. Some, like the Santa Clause or the Elf, I watch at least once a year. Ever since I got into baking, I also bring in that little bit of Christmas magic home with pies and cakes and cookies.

This year, I've decided to share Christmas magic with you with a 30 day Christmas recipe marathon. We start today, because then, the 30 days will end on January 6, the last of day of Christmas. And in the course of next month, there will be all the flavours that define Christmas for Bombay Foodie. So be on the lookout for ginger and cinnamon and mincemeat. But first, let's make some candied oranges.

T

The recipe for these candied oranges comes from David Lebovitz. First off, wash an orange (I used this variety called Valencia) and lop off both edges. Slice the orange into round slices about 1 cm thick. Put the orange slices in a saucepan and cover with room temperature water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let boil slowly for 10 minutes. Drain, cover with fresh water, and repeat the whole 'boil for 10 minutes' process.

Drain and pop the slices back in the saucepan. This time around, add 3/4 cup water and 1/3 cup sugar (David used 1/2 cup sugar so use more if you like, I thought the lesser quantity was enough). Also add a cinnamon stick and if you want, some cloves or a couple of star anise. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook until most of the liquid evaporates and you are only left with a very thick syrup. Turn the oranges a few times while they are cooking so they get coated with sugar evenly. You might want to stir them a bit more towards the end of the cooking time so they don't burn. Once almost all the liquid is gone, take the oranges off the heat and tip them into a colander. Let cool, then store in an airtight jar in the fridge until you are ready to bake that fruit cake or mince pie.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Tales of A Female Nomad

This month, our book club goes on a nomadic tour. We traveled with Rita Golden Gelman, a writer who sold everything she owned after the shock of a divorce and became a nomad. Not a tourist, because Rita stays away from everything that a tourist does and instead, tries to live the lives of people she visits.

From Mexico to Israel to Galapago Islands, Rita goes the way least traveled, always preferring to stay as a boarder with natives. And sometimes, going to places not even locals will go, places so secluded yet beautiful that Rita's description takes your breath away, urges you to become a nomad yourself.

Yet even nomads sometimes find their roots. Rita found hers in Bali where she spent eight years. Starting as a boarder with a prince, she eventually became a part of the family. I instantly knew I wanted to cook something Indonesian. I picked Nasi Goreng, the Indonesian fried rice.



There are as many recipes for Nasi Goreng as there are cooks. Some use tomatoes, others tamarind.…

The Bread Whisperer

What do an electrical engineer, a monk and an IT trainer have in common? These are all the things Abhilash was before he turned his attention to bread baking. Not the one to pick an easy path, Abhilash started with the most temperamental of breads - the sourdough - as his baking adventure. At first, he was baking these loaves for himself. Accolades from friends and family quickly followed and much to the delight of this writer, he turned his passion into a full time career six months back.

For the uninitiated, a sourdough bread is made by fermenting the dough with naturally occurring yeast, making it harder to perfect than the bread made with commercial yeast. The bread's signature tang and the open crumb, with lots of holes, is only made better with a high hydration dough that is super tricky to master. While extremely popular around the world, good sourdough is an elusive commodity in Mumbai and there are only a handful of bakers I would trust when I am looking for bread.

Thoro…

Mystery Fruit

This only happened a few times every year, just when the rainy season kicked in. A street hawker will come by, straw basket on head. He will yell "kaul chapni" and I will run out to buy a bundle of these. Stuck together like flowers, they looked like a bouquet. Every hole contains a little fruit. You break out the package, peel the tiny fruit that pops out and eat it. Done slowly, it can take you an hour to eat an head. Or did, when I was about 12 years old.

That was the last time I saw this fruit. I've never seen it again, didn't even know what it was called or where it came from. Three weeks back, Vikram Doctor wrote about a store in Khar that sells Sindhi foods. He described this fruit and I knew it came from my vivid childhood memories. And finally, I knew we were talking about lotus fruit.

Now talk about coincidences. Last weekend, I was passing by a lane in Bandra and for the first time in many, many years I saw the straw basket filled with my mytery fruit. It…