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Christmas Dinner Indian Style

Tis the season to be merry!! This is the time of year when families get together to celebrate the year that has passed, and share stories over food, and well yes, even more food. When it comes to holiday eats, many countries have added their personal spin, and we are no exception. The recipes below take the Christmas dinner classics, and give them a Punjabi bhangra twist.

When your guests arrive, exchange their coats for a glass of eggnog. This year offer them a selection:

Christmas Dinner 2Eggnog Chai Latte
Spicy and light
• Make 1 cup of black tea (boil water, tea bag, black cloves and cardamom)
• Add 1 teaspoon of sugar
• Add ½ cup of warmed eggnog
• Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg

Eggnog Shake
For those wanting a cooler drink
• 1 scoop vanilla ice cream (or shaved ice for a lighter alternative)
• ½ cup eggnog
• ½ cup almond milk

Spiked Eggnog
Adults only (use dark rum, brandy, Southern Comfort or Godiva Chocolate Liqueur)
• 2 tablespoons of anyalcohol listed above
• ½ cup of eggnog

Avoid eggnog made with modified milk ingredients!


Christmas Dinner 6Cranberry sauce
Now cranberry sauce offers a tart compliment to the roast turkey, but uses for leftovers are limited.  This year we suggest making your own Cranberry Chutney instead.  Here’s one of my favorite recipes from Molly Wizenberg:
•    24 ounces apricot jam
•    ¾ cup white distilled vinegar
•    1 ½ teaspoon raspberry jam
•    pinch of salt
•    ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
•    ¼ cup Grand Marnier
•    2 bags fresh cranberries. Throw out any that are mushy and yucky
•    ½ cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
•    1 ¼ cups dried tart cherries

•    In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add apricot jam, vinegar, raspberry jam, salt, cloves, and Grand Marnier
•    Stir over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil
•    Keep stirring for the next 10-15 minutes to prevent it from burning
•    Reduce heat to medium, add the cranberries, and cook until you start to hear them pop
•    Add the ginger and cherries, stir well, and remove from heat
•    Cool completely.  The chutney will thicken as it cools



Now for our non-vegetarian readers, we suggest the following turkey recipe.  While traditionally a goose, duck or peacock would have made it to the dinner table, we feel turkey will be a more comfortable stretch from the usual chicken.

Christmas Dinner 3“Butter” Turkey
A Christmas twist on the classic Indian butter chicken recipe

Cook the turkey first, cube it, and then add to the sauce.  Organic turkey is best.  Yes, it costs more, but if you can reduce the portion size – 2 oz is plenty per person, the added cost is offset by better quality, healthier portion size, and better health long term as there are no antibiotics to unnecessarily consume.

•    4-5 lb turkey breast, skin on
•    2 tablespoons melted butter
•    pinch of salt
•    black pepper
•    ½ cup chicken or turkey stock
•    1 cup fresh yogurt (homemade is okay)

•    Preheat oven to 450°F
•    Place the turkey breast on a rack in a roasting pan
•    Brush turkey with melted butter.  Season generously with salt and black pepper
•    Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, basting twice with stock — once after 15 minutes, then again in 15 minutes.
•    When thermometer reads 155°F, remove the turkey from the oven. Cover loosely with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes
•    Cut into cubes, and place in a bowl with the yogurt to marinate

Butter sauce:
•    1/4 pound butter
•    1 large onion, minced
•    1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
•    1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
•    1 1/2 teaspooncayenne pepper
•    1 cup strained tomatoes
•    1/2 cup heavy cream
•    1 teaspooncrushed cardamom seeds
•    1 bunch cilantro, chopped

•    Heat butter in saucepan on medium high heat
•    Add onion. Cook until golden and translucent. Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, and tomatoes
•    Add cubed turkey, and reduce heat to medium
•    Cook covered for 15 minutes
•    Add the cream and cardamom. Stir well
•    Cover and cook for 45 minutes, stir occasionally
•    Garnish with fresh cilantro

Christmas Dinner 4Well, after that lovely and deliciously rich meal, how about another Christmas classic…fruit cake!!  This dense sugary loaf only seen at Christmas can actually be quite delicious.  Due to it’s lack of popularity, we will not be including a recipe here, but rather a suggestion to enjoy a slice with a nice hot cup of chai.

And what’s a Christmas dinner without visions of sugar plums dancing in your head…just like the ones in Clement Clark Moore’s famous poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”?  Actual sugar plums do not contain plums.Yes, that surprised me too!  They are a sweet made of sugar hardened around a central seed or kernel in successive layers.  Traditionally centers include fennel/caraway or cardamom…hmmmm…that would be the yummy rainbow covered fennel seeds that Indian restaurants give out after a well enjoyed meal.  And here we’ve been adding a Punjabi flair to Christmas dishes; Looks like Christmas has borrowed something of our culture as well.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!


– By Manjit Bains

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