Sparkling streamers on the wall and a brightly lit Christmas tree in the corner of the living room. That was the modest decor of my childhood Christmas memories. Some years, we’d exchange neatly wrapped gifts with pretty bows and handmade greeting cards. Many other years, there would be no elaborate celebration. Often, it would just be a quiet day hanging out with the family. There really weren’t any consistent traditions that we followed.

But the one thing that strikes a special and distinct chord is Christmas morning in my mother’s kitchen. No matter what the rest of the day turned out like, we knew we would wake up to the aroma of chicken, cooking in a delightful mixture of spices, coconut milk and fresh curry leaves! And as accompaniment, there’d be hot, fluffy appams with crispy, lacy edges waiting to be polished off.

I have since then enjoyed several other Christmas breakfasts. Yet, my mum’s appam and chicken stew still hold a dear place in my heart. So this Christmas, I’d like to share her recipe with you.

I hope the celebration of the birth of our Savior brings joy, hope and comfort to you and your loved ones. Merry Christmas, y’all!!

Happy cooking!

Appam

Ingredients

2 cups raw rice, soaked for about 3 hours
1/2 cup cooked rice or poha
1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 egg white, beaten well

Method

1. Mix yeast and sugar in lukewarm water.
2. Grind the soaked raw rice and the cooked rice or poha.
3. Add the yeast mixture to the ground rice batter. Mix well and keep aside for about 2 hours.
4. Add coconut milk to the batter and mix well again. Keep the mixed batter aside for about 6 hours (or overnight, if you plan to make the appam in the morning).
5. By now, the batter would have risen considerably in volume. Add a beaten egg white and salt and give it a final stir. Keep aside for about half an hour.
6. Pour a small ladle full of batter to the heated appam chatti or kadai. Rotate the appam chatti or kadai in a circular manner, so that the batter spreads well forming a slightly thick centre and thin lacy edges. Cover and cook for a few minutes until the centre is cooked. Scoop the cooked appam out onto a serving plate.

Chicken Stew

Ingredients

1/2 kg chicken, cut into medium sized pieces
2-3 medium onions, sliced thin
2 green chillies, slit lengthwise
1 tsp ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
1 medium potato, diced into small cubes
1 medium carrot, diced into small cubes
2 cloves cardamom
1 small stick cinnamon
2 cloves
2 cups thin coconut milk
1 cup thick coconut milk
1 tsp vinegar
oil
salt
curry leaves, fried onions/shallots (to garnish)

Method

1. Heat oil in a pan and crackle the spices — cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.
2. Add ginger, garlic, onion and green chilies. Sauté till the onions become soft.
3. Add vinegar and mix for a few minutes.
4. Add the chicken pieces, carrot and potato and mix well.
5. Add the thin coconut milk. Mix well and do a salt check. Cover and cook until the chicken and the vegetables are done.
6. Reduce the flame and add the thick coconut milk. Cook for another 3-4 minutes and turn the flame off.
7. Garnish with curry leaves and fried onions. Serve hot with the appam!

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Ceenu Jebaraj

Ceenu Susan Jebaraj is a lawyer who lives in New Delhi. She enjoys cooking, baking, reading, impromptu get-togethers and board games with friends. Most of all she loves celebrating everyday-life with her husband and eight month old who rarely keep themselves out of trouble.

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