Article

Christmas In A Bowl

On the eve of Christmas, India’s finest chefs share the one dish that they make to celebrate their own season of happiness, goodness, feast and cheer.

By Madhulika Dash

It’s that time of the season again when gluttony is a must, treat and happiness, mandatory and feasting on great food, a way of life. It’s Christmas! And while it is a festival all too known today complete with its smorgasbord of tempting food, we, at Bawarchi, decided to get a little more personal with the individuals who help create the cheer, season-after-season: the chefs, as we walk into the kitchen to find that “secret” favourite dish that they celebrate Christmas with.

Here’s a slice of what was hot on hearth, just a day before Christmas.

1 - Chef Vikas Seth, Culinary Director, Sanchez
Dish: Star Xmas Tree


“For me, Christmas is always about the Christmas tree. There is something mesmerizingly cheerful about a well decorated Christmas tree that can warm your heart like a velvety, warm chocolate cake. That fascination with the tree and the festive spirit it gets only has grown through the years I have gone from becoming a novice chef in a cruise to now, but the one thing that hasn’t changed in these years has been the tree. Every year I create something to represent my love for the tree and this year it is the Star Xmas Tree, also our special at Sanchez. Made with cinnamon-infused dark chocolate mousse stuffed with fresh strawberry coulis, Christmas plum fruits, pistachio praline, almond crisp, crunchy profiteroles dusted with cilantro sponge crumb and topped with star tuile, it is my favourite thing about the season.”





2 - Chef Sabyasachi Gorai, Chefpreneur, Lavaash By Saby
Dish: My Egg Devil


“Growing up in Asansol, I have had the chance to experience a very interesting mix of Christmas – both the way the Anglo Indians do, the Armenians celebrate and of course the bharalok Bengalis. So Christmas was a time when I got to eat a lot of cakes, cookies, gingerbread on the one side and on the other the winter cutlets - from the kobiraj to the valley view to mutton chop and the work. But the one dish that was my go-to as I moved out of my home to explore the world as a chef was the Devil’s Egg, done my style – soft-boiled egg with a nice coat of mincemeat blanketed with bread crumbs (later panko) and deep fried to a olden hue, served with fresh pearl onion, kasundi dip and sour yogurt. It was a match made in heaven and reminded me of the cheer and spirit of winters – we have started calling Christmas.”





3 - Chef Pawan Uppal, Executive Chef, Habitat World, IHC
Dish: Stollen Bread


“Let me start with confession: the thing about Christmas is that it isn’t just the front of the house, but the back too which is bustling with the festive spirit and cheer. In fact, it is the one occasion that we all are given a free hand to make that one special thing for our team to bring in the cheer and goodness. For me, that one dish has been the traditional German Bread which is baked during Christmas: Stollen. In fact, in all the years, it has become a tradition at Indian Habitat Centre to celebrate the eve with this delicious bread which is on the menu for guests and back for the team to indulge in abundance with a hot cup of rich chocolate cocoa. This year too, it would be one of the things I will be busy baking to kick start Christmas.”




4 - Chef Dhiraj Dargan, Executive Sous Chef, Comorin
Gajar Halwa Tart


Gajjar Halwa in Christmas may not sound so Christmasy. But that is the one special treat, I have had since childhood. It’s warm, gooey comfort food that warms your heart and gives this instant happiness much like Christmas. And somehow, it is the one special dish that I make year-after-year to celebrate the festive season. This year, I am doing it with a slight twist as we serve it in a tart base along with Alwar milk cake ice cream.”




5 - Chef Karan Bansal, Senior Sous Chef, Chor Bizarre, Bikaner House
Dish: Cosmopolitan 

“Christmas, for me, is about warm drinks. In fact, it is one of the traditional start of Christmas eve in my kitchen. Every year I make that one interesting drink that is warm, familiar and yet instantly brings a smile on your face: for many of my peers in the kitchen, this year that drink will be the iconic Cosmopolitan. It will be that perfect blend of Cranberry Juice, lime and Vodka to celebrate the spirits of Christmas, served in a seasoned martini glass and a piece of brandy-fired plum cake on the side.”




6-Chef Harangad Singh, Corporate Chef, PraPra Prankster
Dish: Cranberry Tart 


“Christmas for me is about exploring different cultures and ingredients. Last season it was oranges and this season Is about cranberry – that slightly bitter, but flavourful fruit with Christmasy colour written all over it. In fact, for me the Cranberry tart dates to the Roman empire where people would get together with their precious little sources and create something delicious to celebrate togetherness. And each year a new fruit will be discovered. My Cranberry tart is an ode to that spirit, and an ode to every happy element, Christmas and winters is known for.”




7 - Chef Ravi Tokas, Executive Chef, Prankster
Dish: Pork Vindaloo


“There are many things that people identify with Christmas – the cakes, the warm drinks, roast duck, the work. For me, Christmas is that warm bowl of Pork Vindaloo, which I learnt from this Goan family who would invite us to their Christmas feast every eve. In fact, I learnt the recipe from them and each year on eve, I am in the kitchen making the bowlful of warm goodness that is served with one of the kadak pav (this time it will be with our savoury donuts), a glass of mulled wine and a warm hug. It’s Christmas in a bowl.”




8 - Chef Kapil Muchandi, Head Chef, The Fisherman Wharf
Dish: A One Pot Goan Feijoada


“ It is one of the comfort meals that every Goan (even those who come here on work and settle here) reach out for that balmy warmth it fills you with. But that addictiveness is not the only reason why Goan Feijoada makes for my favourite Christmas dish, this early 17th century Portuguese dish was one of the favourite trade route speciality, and one of the finest example of the culinary marriage between two different cultures. Traditionally, Feijoada is made using the remains of pig ears, tails, tongue, snout, trotters and head, with the influence of Goan Chorizo added for punch. And is the best way to have it!”




9 - Chef Vaibhav Bhargava, Corporate Brand Chef, Molecule
Dish: Tuscan Seafood Soup


“The Tuscan Seafood Soup was one of the dishes I discovered while travelling to the nook and crannies of Italy one winter. And by the end of that trip, I was completely smitten by this rustic dish – it’s warm, delicious with a flavour festival for the tongue, much like Christmas. Since then it one of the pot dishes I instantly reach to soothe the tired soul and perk up the heart. This Christmas in fact, I would be doing this dish for my team – with a twist of course. After all, it is a season of spreading love and cheer. “




10 - Chef RaviKant Singh, Executive Sous Chef, BYG Brewsky
Dish: Lamb and pistachio with garden fresh baby vegetables and ragi jus


“Christmas for me is more than just a festival with a tradition of drinking mulled wine, eating roasted duck (or turkey) and generally being happy. It is the one time of the year that nature gives you in abundance, and you have so many ingredients to play around with. It is one of the best season to be in the kitchen and experiment with different ingredients. This year it was all about tender vegetables and millets. The lamb and pistachio with garden fresh baby vegetable and ragi jus was what I and my BygBrewsky team created for this season. What makes it my favorite? The flavours, the warmth, the colours and the fact that it was my team that made it.”




11 - Chef Shyam Dhar Rai, Culinary Designer, Pullman New Delhi Aerocity
Dish: Sous Vide Duck Breast, Butter poached Kohlrabi, Milk Solids, Berry Jus


“When you have worked with a French expert chef like Ajay Anand, you are bound to have the best of both world. In my years with him, I have started admiring the art of making interesting fusion dishes, especially during winters when you have this caldron full of ingredients to play along with. The Sous Vide Duck Breast Butter Poached Kohlrabi, Milk Solids and Berry Jus in fact is my ode to the traditional roast duck in Christmas. It has all the element of creating “merry” in your mouth. The fact that it also has this aroma that we associate with Christmas makes it an absolute favourite.”