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A sugary, sweet X'mas: Kerala Rum cake, Goa's Bebnica and other delicacies India loves during Christmas

From Bebinca, Baghdadi Jew cakes to milk liqueur — how Christmas is celebrated in India.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Dec 14, 2019, 11.24 AM IST
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Celebrating Christmas the Hindustani way.
Celebrating Christmas the Hindustani way.
With his blood sugar, Bishubabu, the ex-school teacher was getting nostalgic about his cake-eating days on Boro Din (Boro=big), Kolkata’s very own version of Christmas.

Everyone from all walks of life would eat a plum or fruitcake at this time but the culturally elated ones will buy from none other than Nahoum’s, the Baghdadi Jewish shop in Hogg market.

Bishubabu, the ex-school teacher was getting nostalgic about his cake-eating days.
Bishubabu, the ex-school teacher was getting nostalgic about his cake-eating days.

Flury’s of Park Street is as soughtafter. And, of course, almost all stores sell the locally baked Christmas cake at this time.

I remember how my mother used to bake cakes in a pressure cooker with her own personal twists to the fruitcake recipe.

In the regional kitchens, Christmas cakes and goodies, which came to India with the Europeans, kept changing with local taste and availability of ingredients.

To think of the Christmas cake itself was a humble porridge 500 years ago which went to several alterations to become today’s rich and beautiful Christmas cake.
To think of the Christmas cake itself was a humble porridge 500 years ago which went to several alterations to become today’s rich and beautiful Christmas cake.

To think of the Christmas cake itself was a humble porridge 500 years ago which went to several alterations to become today’s rich and beautiful Christmas cake.

And, of course, in India, western traditions met with brilliant desi jugads.

Today what is Christmas without punch. Low in alcohol,India’s gift that reached Europe with East India Company sailors.

Allahabadi Cake

Allahabad, now known as Prayagraj, was an important railway junction of British-India, home to a huge number of people of Christian community. Brilliant Allahabadi rumsoaked cake has a significant amount of petha, an extremely popular sweet of UP.

Rumcake Of Kerala

Capital of spices, the cakes here have cinnamon powder, ginger powder, nutmeg powder and cloves giving flavour to a cake full of dry fruits soaked in a generous amount of rum.

Vivikam Or Puducherry Cake and Doce De Grao, favourite Christmas delicacies.
Vivikam Or Puducherry Cake and Doce De Grao, favourite Christmas delicacies.


Vivikam Or Puducherry Cake

Pondicherry or Puducherry, the French colony in India, is the birthplace of this type of Christmas cake. Semolina fried in pure ghee gives a beautiful aroma in this type of cake, which is full of raisins and nuts.

Doce De Grao

(Doce-sweet Grao-grainy) Made with bengal gram, the sweet is one of the most popular Goan Christmas goodies.

Kulkul

The crunchy delicacy, cooked with dough curled with the help of fork and deep fried and glazed with sugar.

Bebinca

In Goa, Bebinca or Bebinka is beautifully slowcooked with flour, sugar, ghee, eggs and thick coconut milk and known to have between seven to 14 layers.

Mawa Cake

(Mawa=khowa) Cardamom flavoured light Parsi cake topped with loads of dry fruit

Mandas and Neureos are India's favourite Christmas delicacies.
Mandas and Neureos are India's favourite Christmas delicacies.

Mandas

Mandas are popular Mangalorean baked sweet cucumber rice cakes.

Neureos

Coconut filled sweet flaky puff pastries popular during festivals in Goa specially during Christmas.

Baath

Baath, the Goan semolina & coconut cake, is baked in traditional clay ovens.

Rose Cookies

Rose cookies or Achappams are traditional Anglo-Indian snacks extremely popular in the south.

Mulled Wines

Warm, (not boiled) is regular wine (red) and brandy with spices like nutmeg, honey, cinnamon sticks, ginger with citrus created by orange or lemon.

Please invite me for a lovely Christmas meal purely for the sake of knowledge and a Merry Christmas to all of you.
Please invite me for a lovely Christmas meal purely for the sake of knowledge and a Merry Christmas to all of you.

And, of course, there are the grand feasts of Christmas. The custards, the puddings, chicken and goat roasts and duck recipes which go so well with aged grape wine or milk wine. Brilliant pork recipes of Northeast. (The pork is fattened for months) and the tea garden recipes which I will come to later. But first, one humble request to my readers - Please invite me for a lovely Christmas meal purely for the sake of knowledge and a Merry Christmas to all of you.

The Best Christmas Markets In The World

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Christkindlmärkte

22 Dec, 2017
Indulge in some retail therapy this holiday season with a visit to these charming Christmas markets. Nuremberg, Germany Holiday markets or Christkindlmärkte are said to have originated in Germany. This is one of the largest holiday markets in the country. If you want to see the entire market, hitch a ride on a stagecoach and your coachman will be your tour guide, regaling you with historic tales and Christmas songs on his trumpet. What to buy You can savour sausages and bring traditional figurines made from dried prunes and figs as souvenirs. (Image: christkindlmarkt.co.at)
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