THE TRADITIONAL `Plum Pudding Mixing Ceremony', held this past week at `Travancore', the banquet hall of The South Park, evoked the festive spirit that marks the season of Christmas.

"We have been celebrating this event for the past 11 years," says Nagappan Nair, manager (food and beverages).

"This year's event was inaugurated by Air Marshall A. K. Trikha and his wife. Our invitees included doctors, engineers and corporate heads. The event was full of fun," says Gopi Mohan Nair, general manger, The South Park.

The plum pudding got its name in the 17th century. It had many ingredients, which were finely chopped before being folded into the dough. The dessert was often prepared on Christmas day and served with pomp and ceremony.

Says executive chef, Tulasidharan Pillai: "The Christmas fruitcake is a derivative of the famous Christmas pudding or plum pudding."

Although the recipe for the fruitcake is simpler, large quantities of candied fruit, raisins, breadcrumbs, dates and nuts go into it. Prepared much before Christmas, the mixture is sealed in airtight containers and stored for about 20 days.

By 7 p.m., a long table had been set at the banquet hall and the room decorated with balloons and buntings. Mounds of candied peel (orange) along with powdered spices such as cloves, cinnamon and cardamom were made on the table. "Over 200 kg of dry fruit was used for the mixing ceremony and this can be used to make around 900 to 1,000 one kg cakes," says Nagappan Nair.

As soon as the guests trooped in, they were given aprons, plastic gloves and chef's caps. A few bottles of rum and brandy were uncorked and poured over the mound. The crowd then gathered around the table and mixed the dry fruits.

A jewellery store had sponsored 15 gold and silver coins each, which were hidden inside the mounds of dry fruit. An announcement followed, "If you find the coins, you get to keep it."

"There was a mad rush among the youngsters to find the coins," says Nagappan Nair.

The preparation of the plum cakes will begin on December 22.

The pastry shop, `The Cake Shop', will also offer some wonderful Christmas goodies such as special cakes and cookies.

The cakes on offer will include plum cakes and an assortment of cream cakes.

The hotel has also lined up some interesting programmes for Christmas such as Santa's `fun parade' and a dinner on Christmas eve. Games, cultural programmes, buffet dinner and gift hampers for the guests are on the cards.


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