Baking Christmas Cakes in India

Baking Christmas Cakes in India

There is an interesting little story in the morning papers here, about Le Club des Chefs des Chefs, who are meeting here in Delhi.  These chefs des chefs are the men (and one woman) who cook for heads of state, be it HM the Queen, President Obama, the President of India.

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Apparently these hot shots had a shot ( 😛 ) at making jalebis in the kitchens of Rashtrapati Bhavan (the residence of the President of India).

So far, so good.

And then this little gem caught my eye. And I quote:

“At the Imperial Hotel…the chefs dove into another iconic dish – Christmas cake.  Closing in around a table laden with sultanas, raisins, rum and nuts, they mixed together the ingredients in the first step towards preparing the Christmas staple.”

Other than the horrid past participle “dove”, this snippet made me smile out loud. Or whatever the idiom is.

I absolutely LOVE the notion that Christmas cake is – by inference – an iconic Indian dish, to be showcased to the world’s top chefs.

This is, of course, one of the strengths of India – cheerfully absorbing and integrating customs from around the world.  And probably Indian-ising things quite delightfully along the way 🙂

What I find interesting is that in my Anglo-Irish Catholic family, where Christmas is/was obviously very important, it was Christmas pudding that was iconic, not cake.

I remember my sainted grandmother would start making the next year’s Christmas pudding on Boxing Day (26th December) and her pudding would then sit for a year, the fruit and nuts absorbing vast amounts of alcohol.

We did have Christmas cake, of course, which was never iced and which was eaten with Wensleydale cheese, but to be fair that might just have been a family quirk.

As a child, I always understood that Wensleydale & Xmas cake was a Yorkshire thing.  And that was that.

Despite the derision of southern friends, “CHEESE?  With Xmas cake?!” I never really thought that much more about this odd paring.

Wensleydale and Xmas cake.

But today, after all these years, I did what we all do these days.

I googled it.

To my utter delight, look what I found:

“In Yorkshire, Christmas cake, as with other types of fruit cake, can be eaten with cheese, such as Wensleydale.”

Vindicated.

So yes, there we are.

Exactly 2 months to Boxing Day, and thoughts are quite definitely turning Christmas-wards.  And all thanks to an iconic Idian cake.

Lovely story.

2 Comments

  1. Leslie Brinton

    In the 1930s we lived in the Punjab in Ferozepore (or Ferozepur) for three years, my father being posted there in the Army.

    Our grocer,a kind man even to cheeky little boys, was Yasin Khan and each Christmas he would present us with a Christmas cake as a gift.

    After we left we never managed to return but later heard on good authority that he had been murdered trying to get to Pakistan during Partition.

    1. christine

      Leslie, thank you so much for this interesting (but sad) comment. I’ve been away from my computer for a few days, otherwise I’d have replied much earlier. You must have many more such interesting stories…

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