Seasoned chefs let you in on their secret pièce de résistance they look for in the spread – and why you should try it too
By Madhulika Dash
PICTURE COURTESY: TO THE RESPECTIVE CHEFS, PIZZA EXPRESS AND CAFÉ TESU
Let’s face it: When it comes to navigating the Christmas Brunch – which luckily for us gone even more elaborate each year – it is no mean a feat. Imagine this feast table that is laid out with season’s best. And with Indian dining space, that ‘laid out’ includes treat both classic, traditional dishes from communities and of course chef team’s special that season.
All in all, it looks like the table of a Fairytale Christmas. And while one goes with an idea to indulge- it is rarely the case, especially when you have to make that extremely annoying choice of which one to have - and which to have more. So here’s what we did: We got seasoned chefs to tell us what is that one should try and reach out first in the Christmas Brunch Buffet. Here is the primer:
Chef Sharad Dewan, Regional Director- Food Production, The Park Hotel
Go for: Pumpkin Pie
There is something almost wonderful about December, Christmas and that obvious festive spirit that descents on to you – yes, even us chefs are not immune to the wonders of this season. And somehow things that seem overwhelming through the year tastes infinitely better. For me, it has always been awarm cuppa of chocolate and when it comes to food, it’s a great pumpkin pie. In fact, more than often, it is a combination I enjoy the most for good reason – after all it is during winters that you get the sweetest of pumpkins (even the Indian variety). Add to that a dash of the Christmasy spice mix and its food haven in a bite.
Chef Sabyasachi Gorai, Chefpreneur, PoppinsHotal
Go for: Smoked Salmon & Plum Pudding
An obvious answer to what’s good in a Christmas Brunch is of course the Turkey, but for me, growing up in Asansol, has always been about plum cakes and pudding – especially the rich moist plum pudding. As a kid, I ate it by the dozen and a visit to The Wahid Confectionary was a must; as a chef, I bake a dozen, and eat a few bites here and there too. On the savoury side, I love a well grilled smoked salmon served with an assortment of winter vegetables with a spicy Indian gooseberry relish.
Chef Vikas Seth, Culinary Director, Embassy Leisure
Go for: Smokey Chipotle Rubbed Roast Chicken
With the best spring chicken in season, one of the must-have dishes is roasted chicken. A big chunk of it dusted with smokey chipotle served with morita cranberry jus and lightly sautéed crunchy winter vegetables and seasoned sweet potatoe mash. It is Christmas indulgence – minus the guilt.
And of course, one of my primary reason to include it in our Winter menu as well.
Chef Neeraj Tyagi, Culinary Director, Pullman Aerocity
Go for: Yule log
I agree. Yule Log has never got the same amount of excitement as Plum Cake – and for good reason. But as a chef, I can let you know on a secret: it is in fact one of the most experimental dessert on the Christmas menu. From having piled with nuts to having crepes shaped as a log, it is in fact as rich as the plum cake and comes with its own story as well. In fact, it is the one dessert that has kept me
fascinated ever since I tried making one with roasted pistachio and slabs of a rum-soaked plum cake.
Chef Nimish Bhatia, Seasoned Consultant
Go for: Lobster Ravioli
Image Courtesy: La Loca Maria
Let me confess: I love the Christmas Brunch and every dish in it. It has that taste foreplay that only adds to the spirit of the season. And for months, it is the one get together I wait to taste tradition.
But with chefs innovating, I have also started liking subtle dishes like the Lobster Ravioli – it is an art to get the pasta right and still have this pink, sweet tasting lobster inside. And has been my new favourite – after roasted meat of course.
Chef Mir Zafar Ali, Executive Chef, The Leela Palace Bengaluru
Go for: Festive Tacos
Call it a chef’s need to constantly try on different things or the versatility of this iconic Mexican dish, but among the newer inclusion on the Christmas Brunch, my favourite happens to the Mexican DIY taco. They are like these open canvas that can be filled with any food – and it is Christmas in your mouth. My special favourite is the Christmas Morning Taco Breakfast closely followed by a savoury
made of crisp roasted duck.
Chef Prasad Metrani, Executive Chef, Fairmont Hotels & Resort, Jaipur
Go for: Stollen
Christmas for me has always been about the bread – whether it is those interesting breakfast croissants, dinner rolls or even the sour bread. But my all-time favourite is the Stollen. Steeped in history, it is one flavoursome carb-bomb to have with flavours from macerated dry fruits and spices.
It is the perfect accompaniment to a rich, sweet-bitter hot chocolate or a glass of mulled wine.
Chef Sujoy Gupta, Executive Chef, Taj Bengal
Go for: Christmas Pudding and Pork Sausage with Bread Sauce
For me Christmas has been a season of indulgence – especially of rich food like the brandy glazed Christmas pudding and others. But the one thing that I have always put on my Christmas brunch table and love to eat are the Pork Sausages, especially the Anglo Indian style which is packed with warm spices like clove, pepper and smoked. And the best way to have it is grilled, drizzled with bread
Chef Lakhbir Singh, Executive Chef, Courtyard By Marriott
Go for: Turkey
Christmas Brunch is all about Turkey – and that is the way it has been for me for almost a decade now. It is Winter Season’s best treat. Here is a 6-kilo bird that is stuffed and roasted to perfection, basted with alcohol-fruit jus served on the bed of season’s best produced lightly roasted, tossed or braised. Plus, it is a delight to see it carved!
Chef Manuel Olviera Seller, Head Chef, La Loca Mariar
Go for: Lamb Wellington
What is not to love about this ancient dish from Ireland: its lamb shanks, lovingly seasoned with warm spices, seared on a hot pan to release the juices and then baked encased within a crisped up puff pastry, served with charred brussel sprouts, roasted bell peppers, eggplant, salsa verde and a spicy apricot jam made in-house. Did I just spell Christmas? Yes, I did.