Celebrating Christmas in India
No regional focus over the festive season. We bring back some of your favourite dishes as our present for you to enjoy.
India is a secular nation and houses every community. Christians are a minority and form nearly 2.3% of the population. But the fact that there are only about 25 million Christians in India, in no way lessens the observance of the festival. Moreover, the occasion is celebrated not only by Christians but by people of other religions as well.
Many Christian houses in India decorate Christmas cribs and distribute sweets and cakes to their neighbours. In many of the schools that are run by the Christian missionaries, the children actively participate in Christmas programs. Also in many non-religious schools, there is tradition of Christmas celebration. Christmas is also increasingly celebrated by other religions in India. Christmas is known as "Badha Din" (Big Day) in North and North-West India and people often plant trees on this day. Celebrating Christmas in India No regional focus over the festive season. We bring back some of your favourite dishes as our present for you to enjoy.
Many Christians in India celebrate Christmas. The celebrations are most noticeable in states where there are many Christians such as Goa. Christmas Day is a statutory holiday across India but there are really no Christmas only dishes
The Punjab Region
Punjab literally means ‘land of five rivers’ in Persian. As it was divided into two at the time of partition a part of Punjab lies is in the north west of India and the other in north east of Pakistan.
Punjab mainly consists of large fertile plains and is India’s biggest producer of wheat. Milk and its products in the form of malai (cream), paneer (cottage cheese), butter and curds are used with almost every Punjabi meal.
The most popular form of Indian food served around the world is derived from Punjabi cuisine. The concept of using the tandoor oven in Indian kitchens originated here. Communal tandoors are still used in the villages of Punjab where women gather in the evening to cook bread and share gossip.
It shares several characteristics with the cuisine of Kashmir and other adjacent states. Punjabi cuisine is diverse, and varies regionally. Punjabi food served in the restaurants originated from the ‘Dhabas’ - roadside restaurants started by Punjabi people to provide food to truckers. It would not be wrong to say that in India ‘Dhabas’ were the first restaurants. Tandoori Chicken, Dal Makhani, Karahi Paneer, Chicken Tikka, Lassi, Kheer, Jalebi; are the popular Punjabi dishes found in restaurants all over the world.
Other popular seasonal dishes are; Sarsoon da Saag – prepared with green mustard leaves; Makki di Roti – maize flour bread; and Cholle Bhaturre – chickpeas served with fried bread.
The region of Bengal is one of the most densely populated regions on earth, with a population density exceeding 900/km ². Most of the Bengal region lies in the low -lying Ganges–Brahmaputra River Delta or Ganges Delta, the world's largest delta. In the southern part of the delta lies the Sundarbans-the world's largest mangrove forest and home of the Bengal tiger. Though the population of the region is mostly rural, two megacities, Kolkata and Dhaka, are located in Bengal.
The Bengal region is renowned for its rich literary and cultural heritage as well as its immense contribution to the socio -cultural uplift of Indian society in the form of the Bengal Renaissance , and revolutionary activities during the Indian independence movement.
The food of this region has an emphasis on fish, vegetables and lentils served with rice as a staple diet, Bengali cuisine is known for its subtle (yet somet imes fiery) flavours, and its huge spread of confectioneries and desserts. Fresh sweet water fish is one of its most distinctive features; Bengal's countless rivers, ponds and lakes teem with innumerable varieties of fish such as rohu, hilsa, koi or pabda. Prawns, shrimp and crabs also abound.
The use of spices for both fish and vegetable dishes is quite extensive and includes many combinations not found in other parts of India. Examples are the onion flavoured kalonji (nigella or black onion seeds), radhuni (wild celery seeds), and five -spice or paanch phoron (a mixture of cumin, fennel, fenugreek, kalonji, and black mustard seeds). The trump card of Bengali cooking probably is the addition of phoron, a combinat ion of whole spices, fried and added at the start or finish of cooking as a flavouring special to each dish. Bengalis share their love of whole black mustard seeds with South Indians, but unique to Bengal is the extensive use of freshly ground mustard paste.
Also known as Bombay; the richest and most populous city of India lies on the west coast and is the capital of Maharashtra state. Mumbai is the commercial and entertainment capital of India. It is home to Bollywood, the world’s largest film industry. Mumbai's culture is a blend of traditional festivals, food, music and theatres.
Born out of necessity, the city’s legendary street food has its origins in its now vanished mills and factories, where multitudes of workers needed quick, inexpensive meals on the go. The streets of Mumbai still burst into life each morning like a rhythmical orchestra as a legion of mobile chefs engage in a daily ritual of chopping, spicing, grilling and frying that goes on late into the night. cooks worked in the stately palaces and kept their recipes a closely guarded secret. Some recipes were passed on to their sons and the rest were lost forever.
As you roam the streets, you can seek out delicacies such as poori bhaji, a flaky deep fried breakfast pastry served with spicy potato curry, or dabeli, mashed potato with a mouth-watering topping of grapes, spiced peanuts, onions and garlic chutney, sandwiched in a grilled bun and the simplest; the most basic of ingredients go into the preparation of most dishes.
The best places to try the Mumbai street food are found in the tourist areas, bazaars and on the beaches. Street food is mostly spicy with the influence of Kolhapur and Konkan regions. Popular street food includes Paw Bhaji (spicy mixed vegetables with a bread bap), Vada Paw (batata vada in a bap), Keema Paw (minced meat with a bap), Kaleji Masala, Misal, Pani Puri, Bhel Puri, Fish fry, Crab Masala, and Chicken Rolls.
Rajasthan, now the largest state in India, is culturally rich and has artistic and cultural traditions which reflect the ancient Indian way of life. There is proof that it has been inhabited for 6000-8000 years.
Each religion in India has its own traditional dishes and specialties. In the royal kitchen of Rajasthan, as well as most other states, food was a very serious business and rose to the level of an art form. Hundreds of cooks worked in the stately palaces and kept their recipes a closely guarded secret. Some recipes were passed on to their sons and the rest were lost forever.
The finest cooking in India was derived from the Mughals and did influence the royal kitchens of India. But the common man's kitchen remained untouched, even more so in Rajasthan. Cooking here has its own unique flavour and the simplest; the most basic of ingredients go into the preparation of most dishes.
In the desert belt of Jaisalmer cooks use the minimum of water and prefer, instead to use more milk, buttermilk and clarified butter. Dried lentils, beans from indigenous plants like sangri, ker, etc. are liberally used. Gram flour is a major ingredient here and is used to make some of the delicacies like khata, gatta ki sabzi, pakodi, powdered lentils are used for mangodi, papad. Bajra and corn is used all over the state for preparation of rabdi, kheechdi and rotis. Rajasthani Royals are also fond of hunting and game is very popular during the winter.
Parsi also spelled Parsee, member of a group of followers in India of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster. The Parsis, whose name means "Persians", are descended from Persian Zoroastrians who immigrated to India to avoid religious persecution by the Muslims. They live chiefly in Mumbai and in a few towns and villages mostly to the north of Mumbai, but also in Karachi (Pakistan) and Bangalore (Karnataka, India). Over the centuries since the first Zoroastrians arrived in India, the Parsis have integrated themselves into Indian society while simultaneously maintaining or developing their own distinct customs and traditions (and thus ethnic identity).The Parsis have made considerable contributions to the history and development of India, all the more remarkable considering their small numbers. Some notable Parsis are rock starFreddie Mercury, founder of Cobra beer Lord Karan Billimoria and the founder of Tata who bought Jaguar Land Rover.The basic feature of a Parsi lunch is rice, eaten with lentils or a curry. Dinner would be a meat dish, often accompanied by potatoes or other vegetable curry.
Kachumbar (a sharp onion-cucumber salad) accompanies most meals. Popular Parsi dishes include: Chicken farcha (fried chicken), Patra ni machhi (steamed fish wrapped in banana leaf), Dhansak (lamb, mutton, goat and vegetables in lentil and toor daal gravy), Sali murghi(spicy chicken with fine fried matchstick potatoes), Jinga no patio(shrimp in spicy tomato curry), Saas ni machhi (yellow rice with pomfret fish fillets in a white sauce), Jardaloo sali boti (boneless mutton in an onion and tomato sauce with apricots and fried matchstick potatoes). Also popular among Parsis, are the typical Parsieeda (egg) dishes, and often dishes (such as those listed above) are served with an egg on top
Once known as Lakshmanpur, Awadh is claimed to be among the most ancient of Hindu States, now in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Today it is known as Lucknow.
Authentic dishes ranging from kormas to kulchas, roomali rotis to parathas and flavourful biryani are famous all over the world, thanks to the Nawabs of Awadh. The art of cooking food over a slow fire, or 'Dum' style of cooking originated from this region. This process involves sealing ingredients in large pot called 'handi' and is placed over slow fire, allowing the ingredients to simmer in their own juices.
Awadh style of cooking is deeply influenced by the Mogul style and it closely resembles the cuisine of Kashmir and Hyderabad. The richness of Awadh cuisine lies in its ingredients and also the diverse cooking methods. Some dishes are flavourful due to the use of rich ingredients such as cream and ghee, while others taste equally good prepared with mustard oil.
Kababs such as Shami kabab, Gilawat ka Kabab, Kakori kabab are famous all over the world. Nihari is a meat stew usually eaten with a kulcha (bread) for breakfast. Lucknavi Biryani is one of the most famous of all. The term Biryani derives from the Persian word “Birian”, which means "roasted before cooking." Biryani is a mixture of basmati rice, meat, vegetables, yogurt, and spices. Kulfis (ice cream) and various rice, fruit, vegetable puddings are enjoyed as desserts during summer and halwas in winter.
The Cuisine of The Gurkhas'
The Gurkhas’ are soldiers from Nepal. Historically, the terms "Gurkha" and "Gorkhali" were synonymous with "Nepali," and derived from the hill town and district of Gorkha from which the Kingdom of Nepal expanded. The name may be traced to the medieval Hindu warrior - saint Guru Gorakhnath, who has a historic shrine in Gorkha.
The former Indian Army Chief of Staff Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, once stated that "If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha." Set against the backdrop of the Himalayas, the people of Nepal have many different backgrounds and ethnicities, and this multitude of influences is reflected within the country’s cuisine.
Nepalese dishes are generally healthier than most other South Asian gastronomies, as they rely less on the extensive use of fats and more on chunky vegetables, lean meats, pickled dishes and salads. Whilst Nepal does take heavy influences from its closest geographical companions such as India, China and Tibet, this mountainous paradise only opened up its borders to outsiders in the 1950s. It is for this reason, in addition to problems with exports and imports caused by Nepal’s geographical setting, that there is a particular focus on using locally grown produce.
Dal-rice-vegetable is the standard meal eaten twice daily. However, with land suitable for irrigated rice paddies in short supply, other grains supplement or even dominate. Wheat becomes unleavened flatbread ( roti or chapati ). Typically yogurt (dahi) and curried meat (masu) or fish (machha) or chicken (kukhura) are served as side dishes.