Christmas lunches and dinners in the city largely abide by traditional Indian cuisine, though more foodies now try their hand at baking

Each evening, Nigella Lawson tries to induce upon us visual food coma with her Christmas recipes. Christmas Pudding, Eggnog Cream, Mince pies and Roast Chicken have invaded our living rooms through television shows and food blogs, not to mention the experience of well-travelled Hyderabadis.

City-based food blogger Arundati Rao (http://arundati.wordpress.com/)was surprised when someone asked her the recipe for Austrian Christmas cookies. She conducted a baking class last week and all her participants were non-Christians, but foodies eager to overcome the fear of baking and try their hand at traditional Gingerbread cookies, muffins and Yule Logs among other things. “Many are intimidated at the thought of baking and frosting. When I taught a group of participants to make English-style Yule Logs, they were overjoyed,” she says. Arundati is now conducting her second workshop tomorrow where she will teach participants to make Gingerbread cookies, Yule Logs, Cranberry Apple Sauce muffins, Fruit Cake and Almond Chocolate Nut Clusters. Until last year, she had her hands full with Christmas and New Year orders. She observed discussions on social networking forums where people shared recipes and baking ideas and thought of conducting Christmas-specific classes. “The recipes have been simplified for first-time bakers,” she shares.

The festival has cut across religious barriers and who doesn’t enjoy a good cake, cookie or muffin? For many Christian families though, the menu remains largely traditional. In Telugu-speaking homes, the menu includes Chicken biryani, raita, a vepudu of any vegetable and Nune Vankaya along with home-made Ariselu, Boondi laddu, Kajjikayalu apart from Rose cookies and Kalkal.

Taste of Goa

Yoga instructor Ruhi looks at Christmas as an opportunity to re-visit her Goan roots. “I have a traditional menu with many Goan specialities,” she says. Chocolate Rock, Guava Cheese, Milk Cream, Goan coconut cake called Barth, fruit cake, Goan prawn pulao with coconut juice, Roasted and stuffed chicken and Meat loaf are some specialties she has mastered. “I go hunting for ingredients 10 days ahead of Christmas,” says Ruhi, who prefers to use Goan cashews to make the Milk Cream.

Photographer Edwin Emmanuel cannot imagine the festival without home-made plum cakes and home-brewed wines. Soaking the fruits in rum and mixing the cake happens weeks and sometimes months in advance in Christian homes. “Recipes to make plum cakes and home-made wines are handed down over generations,” says Kochannamma Oomen. At the Oomen household, Kerala cuisine meets western goodies such as tarts, pies and cookies. “We do not consume non-vegetarian during the ‘advent’ period. After the Christmas service in the church, we break the Lent with a breakfast of Appam and chicken curry. There are a lot of goodies — jam tarts, lemon tarts and gingerbread cookies,” says her son Paul C. Oomen, a final year engineering student. The lunch, says Kochannamma, will include fish, chicken and beef dishes prepared in Kerala style. “We have Meen Moyli and Meen Pulichoru for example. Tarts have different fillings, from dates and walnuts to wine-soaked fruits. Winter spices like ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg are used in many recipes,” she adds.

Whether you’re trying your hand at baking of enjoying a traditional meal, it’s the festive spirit that counts. Bon appetit.