Yes, we know. Christmas is long gone, but the spirit still lingers. Apart from the festivities, what we all cherished during the holiday season was to share a meal with our loved ones. Like every other festival, Christmas in Kerala has its own culinary traditions. Here are some tasty delicacies that are seen around Christmas time in Kerala; something we all miss at the moment.
It’s not Christmas if there are no plum cakes to have a bite at. The neatly arranged plum cakes which fill the glass-panelled windows of the bakeries is itself enough to give that Christmassy feeling. Interestingly, the history of plum cakes dates back to the 18th century from England. We picked this recipe during the colonial period. Yet another interesting fact is that the same plum cake is also known as an ‘election cake’ in America because it is usually served when people are waiting for the election results.
This is the magnum opus of traditional Kerala Christian cuisine. The main factor which makes it stand out from all the other dishes is the way it is cooked. It is first pressure cooked and then roasted in coconut oil with ginger garlic paste and spices. The unique aroma while roasting the half-cooked beef on an iron pan is beyond words to explain. The addition of curry leaves along with the roasted beef creates an extraordinary flavour. The dish is so tasty that even the thought of it makes me salivate in anticipation. The roasted coconut chips is an absolute delight.
What’s Christmas morning without palappam? It is crispy on the edge with a fluffy centre. It tastes mildly sweet when eaten alone. When served with a side dish, it is a treat to the taste buds. The secret to perfecting this recipe is the fermentation of the batter. Palappam has its root in the Jews who migrated to India. The recipe was passed down from generation to generation. Thanks to them, I can’t even think about life without Appam.
Mutton stew is quite famous among Christian families in Kerala. It’s no secret that Malayalis have some serious addiction to coconut. They add an element of coconut to every dish possible. The addition of coconut milk gives it a creamy texture, which also helps in maintaining the versatile flavour of the stew. Tender goat meat along with veggies, simmered in a mild and creamy coconut-based gravy is the perfect side dish for Appam. Unlike any other traditional Indian dishes, this comes with less spice but yet rich in flavour.
Tharavu curry and Idiyappam is an evergreen combination served during Christmas and Easter. It’s a favourite dish among the traditional Christian families of Kerala and is said to have originated from the land of backwaters, Kuttanad. This duck curry with coconut milk is rich and flavourful. Just like the stew, it is mostly devoid of chilli powder. Instead, it is spiced with a lot of green chillies, ginger, garlic, and freshly crushed black pepper. The thick gravy consistency of the curry is because of the addition of coconut milk, which is one of the key elements of the recipe.
A Vindaloo is a dish of meat marinated in wine and garlic. The dish comes with a perfect combination of sweet, sour and spices. This famous dish has its roots running through the states of Kerala and Goa. The history of vindaloo dates back to the time when the Portuguese colonised India. They used to soak their dishes in alcohol for preservation. This was modified by us, over time, to this form. This dish gained its popularity through the Anglo-Indian community. Keeping aside all the cultural facts, vindaloo is one of the most sought after curries across the world. If you are not allowed to have pork, don’t worry, this dish comes with all the other meat as well.
This steamed rice cake is mainly served as an evening snack to eat along with a cup of tea. It is a pristine white spongy cake made with fermented rice batter. Out of all the other dishes mentioned earlier, this is probably the healthiest. These circular treats are easy to digest, light on the palate, and extremely tasty with the right amount of cardamom capturing your taste buds.
Kappa and Meen curry
Just like beef and parotta, kappa and meen curry are yet another dish that Malayali is fond of. It’s hard to find one who doesn’t like this amazing combo. Kappa used to be known as a poor man’s staple as it was a good starchy substitute for rice. Kappa came to us from South America and was introduced in Kerala during the 18th century when there was a shortage in the supply of rice. But over the course of time, it has transformed from a poor man’s staple to an inevitable main dish during luxurious celebrations. And now it’s almost impossible to think about Christmas without kappa and meen curry.
Do you think we missed out on your favourite Christmas delicacies? Let us know!