Food

Try these East Indian Christmas recipes by Maria Goretti

Maria’s Christmas lunch has a good mix of East Indian and global favourites

Maria’s Christmas lunch has a good mix of East Indian and global favourites  

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VJ-turned-chef Maria Goretti on what defines a typical, East Indian holiday meal at her home

Christmas is just around the corner... a time for bonding with loved ones, and for feasting. Thinks roasts, cakes, wine and of course local favourites. Families gear up weeks ahead, cooking up a storm... there’s biryani to be made, a fruit cake to be shared and kalkals to be distributed. And let us not forget Christmas lunch... hours spent around the table, swapping stories and digging into family favourites.

The scene is no different at the Warsi household in Mumbai, where VJ-turned-chef Maria Goretti prepares to host Christmas lunch.

Preparations typically begin a week in advance, with Maria donning the chef’s hat to churn out a number of dishes: some celebrating her East Indian heritage and some global favourites as well. Planning of course begins weeks ahead.

Baked chicken
  • 1.5 kg Whole chicken
  • 1 tbsp Oil
  • 10 Raisins
  • 10 Cashew
  • 1 small Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Green chilli
  • 5 cloves Garlic
  • 25 gm Sausage meat (mutton/chicken)
  • Chicken liver that comes along with the chicken, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp Flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 25 gm Butter
  • 1 tsp East Indian bottle masala
  • 12 strips Chicken bacon
  • Wash the chicken and keep aside. Allow the water to completely drain. In a non-stick pan, add half a tablespoon of oil. Add the raisins. Once the raisins are cooked and puffed out, take them out and set aside. Add the cashews and fry till golden brown. Take them out and keep aside. Sauté the onion, add chilli and garlic and cook for a minute. Now add the sausage meat and once cooked, add the chicken liver. Cook for about a minute or till the liver is visibly cooked. Set aside and let it cool. When cooled, add the breadcrumbs, parsley, raisins and cashews to the liver mix. Mix the butter and the East Indian Bottle masala. Smear the chicken inside out with the prepared mix. Put the stuffing under the skin of the chicken belly, gently (if this seems tough, put the stuffing in the stomach cavity). Place the chicken bacon strips over the whole chicken and cover the chest, stomach and the legs completely. Now bake the chicken for 1 hour and 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 190°C or till the chicken is dark brown. Serve hot.

“I begin prepping at least by December 17. By the 24th, I am in the thick of all the cooking and baking. Christmas day starts super early since I host a lunch. It is always with close friends and family... it usually stretches well into the evening, with the last of the guests leaving around 8 pm,” she says.

Interestingly, Maria didn’t begin cooking until her son was around two; because she wanted to ensure her kids ate healthy. Once she began, she realised how much she enjoyed cooking and went on to study at Tante Marie in London and earn herself a Cordon Bleu certificate.

Not one to shy away from her roots, Maria’s blog, Instagram and even her book From My Kitchen to Yours, showcase East Indian favourites... as does her table at Christmas. “As a child, we always began with the four weeks of Advent to spiritually prepare for Christmas. It was a time to tie up loose ends and bring in as much peace, love and joy into our lives as possible. Christmas eve was always about attending midnight mass and then heading straight home for some cake and coffee. On Christmas day, my mother would cook us a lovely big lunch, after which we would sleep like whales,” says Maria.

Lamb Moile
  • 1.5 kg Lamb on the bone
  • 1 cup Vegetable oil
  • 6 Onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp East Indian Bottle Masala
  • 300 gm Tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Ginger
  • Garlic half a big bulb
  • 1.5 litres Coconut milk
  • 4 Potatoes, cut into big chunks
  • 1 tsp East-Indian vinegar (sugarcane vinegar)
  • Salt to taste
  • In a non-stick pan, with some oil, sear the lamb on both sides to seal the juices. Do this for about two minutes on medium flame to brown it a bit. Take the lamb pieces out of the pan and set aside. In the same pan, add the remaining oil and fry the onions till they are completely translucent or a bit brown. Do this for 15 minutes. Add the East Indian Bottle masala, then the tomatoes, and cook them, stirring continuously for 20 minutes or until some oil begins to separate. Now add the garlic and ginger that has been roughly pounded. To this, add the lamb, and with it, a litre of coconut milk. Add the potatoes and let it all simmer for 45 minutes. Once you see that the gravy has visibly reduced, add one teaspoon of the East Indian vinegar and the remaining coconut milk. Adjust the salt according to taste and bring to a boil. Take it off the flame; it’s ready to devour.

Today, she likes to retain that essence of her childhood Christmas with a lunch just as lovely as the one her mother would put together.

“I usually like to have all kinds of meat and vegetables on the table. There are always lots of starters and desserts,” she says. “So there will be hand-rolled pizzas, a charcuterie tray, cheese platter, sourdough bread with dips like hummus and babaganoush. There will definitely be a big salad; everyone loves a good salad. This year for lunch, I will be making some East Indian prawn curry, baked chicken, mutton moile, pasta, brinjal moju (which is a Sri Lankan dish), naan, sorpotel and stacks of baked potatoes.”

But what is Christmas lunch without dessert? Maria has quite a few treats up her sleeve: think meringue with strawberries, gluten-free and butter-free fresh orange cake, chocolate mud pots and a chocolate fondue. “I simply love meringue, so it will definitely feature,” she says.

Here she shares two East Indian recipes to make your Christmas lunch even better.

Try these East Indian Christmas recipes by Maria Goretti

Maria Goretti’s From My Kitchen To Yours is published by Om Books International

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 4:39:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/try-these-east-indian-christmas-recipes-by-maria-goretti/article30378177.ece

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