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Santa, cakes and kuswar

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ALL FUN Christmas is gala time, especially for children.
ALL FUN Christmas is gala time, especially for children.

It is that time again when five-pointed stars adorn homes in Mangalore. M. RAGHURAM does a quick round-up of what Mangaloreans are up to in the run-up to Christmas and New Year

It is time for another round of revelry in Mangalore. Christmas and New Year are just about a month away and the feeling is there is not a minute to be wasted. There are so many things to be done, the Christmas and New Year Cakes have to be ready, kuswar will have to be prepared and a whole lot of shopping needs be done. The Bishop's House, in the heart of the city, is the focal point of the Christmas celebrations and it has already received a coat of fresh paint, and in about 10 days time it will have twinkling lights in red, white and blue adorning its walls.

Carols

Youngsters with their guitars, harmonicas and trumpets will soon be out on the moonlit nights, singing carols. The heavenly aroma of freshly baked cakes will waft around homes and bakeries. Churches, prayer halls and Catholic homes will have cribs depicting birth of infant Jesus along with porcelain dolls of the holy trinity, the shepherds with their flock and other accompaniments. These items are stocked in shops such as Gerosas and Shetty's. The Catholic community takes its music seriously, so the best gift for a youngster for Christmas would be an acoustic guitar. Thus the city's musical stores are tripping over themselves to stock up on the best guitars from all over the world. Loy, the owner of Symphony on Kudmul Ranga Rao Road, says this is the one season when guitars sell more than in the entire year. This time the city has a good stock of both acoustic and electric guitars. Oscar Weltha of Welthas at Balmatta also feels the same. It is in the upmarket areas where all the gourmet action is happening.The process of Christmas cake making has already begun. Bakers' families and their friends and relatives have started shopping looking for ingredients that go into Christmas cakes and cookies. Making the cakes begins at least 40 to 45 days before as the nuts, raisins, chocolate chips and currants have to be marinated in liquor for not less than a month. The secret of the soft, flavoursome cakes lies in the marinade, says the Executive Chef, E. Ravi, of Taj Manjuran. There is tremendous joy associated with the community cake mixing and it is often a time for people to get together. There are many traditions surrounding the Christmas pudding such as while mixing the batter, coins are put in it. Those who get the coin in their serving are believed to get wealth, health, happiness and their wishes come true. So this Christmas when you get your share of the pudding, eat carefully as you wouldn't want to chip your tooth on a lucky coin.

City flavours

There are also Christmas goodies that are distinctly Mangalorean in flavour. It is called kuswar and comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. According to Shirly Mascrenhas, there are as many as 22 items that can be prepared at home and in the bygone days, women of the family would get together to prepare it themselves. But now mass production centres are able to offer the same quality at cheaper rates to those pressed for time.

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