Food

Tradition rules the roost

Faith matters Christmas cradle for celebrations (File photo) Photo: K.R. Deepak   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

Think Christmas and one immediately thinks of feasting on plum cake or puddings. While the festive spread is bound to include a Christmas cake and wine, traditional Indian food forms the staple of a Christmas meal. Here’s a look at how we discovered this at several homes in Hyderabad.

With a day to go for Christmas, preparations are on in full swing at Fatima Raju’s house. A set of special delicacies that form a quintessential part of Christmas celebrations — kajji kayalu, rose cookies, boondi laddu, ariselu and makkai chudwa — are being made. Fatima recently retired from Osmania University Engineering College and observes how there is a special charm in preparing traditional sweets at home.

Traditional festive foods, especially South Indian sweets and snacks, are the star attractions, enjoyed by many. While hotels are abuzz with their festive Christmas Eve and Christmas brunches with turkey and other exotic delicacies, homes ring in the celebrations with an array of traditional Indian delicacies as part of their meal. “For most south Indians, Christmas Eve holds great significance,” observes Manasa, a software employee. “Most people eat just one vegetarian meal on that day. I really do not know how this tradition started, but I was told fasting is in a way preparing your body and soul for the birth of Christ,” she adds.

In most houses, preparing for the festival celebrations are similar. “Cleaning the house, changing drapes and curtains, buying new clothes, putting muggulu in front of the house, marigold-mango leaf torans at the doorway; all these are regular features,” explains Manasa and adds, “While the Christmas tree is omnipresent, most Catholic homes put up a crib too depicting the Nativity scene.”

At Victoria’s home in Bhoiguda, the buzz begins a week before Christmas. With this 67-year-old celebrating her birthday two days ago, she points out how childhood traditions are still being followed by her. She names a few dishes like Rose cake, gavvalu, ariselu, murukulu and vadalu among delicacies being prepared at their house. With December 25 falling on a Sunday this year, one can indulge in choicest of dishes and also treat friends who visit their Christian friends. “A traditional Telugu Christmas Day lunch would be Coconut rice (kobbari annam), chicken fry, mutton curry, aloo kurma (for vegetarians), Carrot/cabbage/beans fry, sambhar/rasam and perugu pachadi (raitha). Desserts would of course comprise the sweets like boondi laddoo and ariselu made for the festival,” states Manasa.

Fatima points out although tradition takes centre stage, one also keeps the health factor in mind. She cites the example of rose cookies. “One can prepare it with maida or rice flour. I make it with rice flour so that it is healthy, more crunchy and stays for a long time,” she says, “The quantity of sweets has also reduced. Earlier I would prepare 2 kg of boondi laddoo. Now, everyone is working and children live faraway and I have prepared only one kg of laddoo.” Manasa points out like all festival celebrations in India, food remains a focal point in Christmas too. “The Christmas day lunch is for the family as well as for the guests who drop in to partake in the festivities,” she adds.

On that note, Merry Christmas!

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Printable version | Jan 13, 2021 11:25:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/Tradition-rules-the-roost/article16932067.ece

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