One reason why Christmas cuisine generates a lot of interest in Christian homes is that December 25th is the most keenly awaited day as many devout Christians come in front of the dining table after a 25-day period of Lent, when non-vegetarian dishes are taboo and in some case, even milk and eggs are also not consumed.
Districts in central Kerala - home to a large number of Christians who make up 22 percent of the state's 32 million population mark the event with the maximum fanfare. Eighty-year-old great grandmother Jolly Mathew in Kottayam is all ready for Christmas as she has already tasted her wine made out of lovlolikka (a variety of cranberry) and has kept ready ducks and chicken that have been reared by her to go under the table knife as her two children are coming with their entire families.
Mary Xavier, a retired teacher in Thiruvalla, said that her husband is very particular that meat and fish during Christmas is prepared using only firewood and not on gas. "Cooking pork, meat and fish curry in a urali on firewood gives the curries an extra taste of the smoke. Moreover since urali vessels retain heat for a long time, dishes are prepared on a low flame and after placing a lid over the urali, charcoal is placed over the lid and the urali gets heat from all sides and hence it becomes tastier," Xavier said.
The typical breakfast menu for Christmas includes a piece of cake and wine for starters. For cookery expert Lucy George, her Christmas breakfast includes the appom (rice flour mixed with toddy) and stew."This time I have included fish molly and mutton stew. Then we have duck roast, beef olathiathu and egg roast (sauted meat) as other side dishes. Then comes the steamed banana," said Mathew.
The traditional Christmas lunch includes fish curry made out of seer fish and for fish fry, promfret is generally the most preferred one. Then comes the typical beef curry, sambar, aviyal and a few vegetable side dishes and the normal desert is a glass of payasem. One change in recent times is a steaming hot biriyani over rice and with mutton prices touching Rs.550 a kilogram, many prefer to settle for a chicken biriyani. Some prefer to get it from hotels or restaurants who have now begun offering a special Xmas biriyani.
Executive chef Shine S. Visakha at the prestigious Villa Maya restaurant in the capital city that was ranked fourth in the list of the top 10 restaurants in India by Trip Advisor is busy getting things organised in the kitchen. He has come out with a special menu for Thursday.