Christmas time brings fond memories of my college days in Pune, India. Pune, also known as the Oxford of the East, is a popular student destination and its weather for most part of the year is delightful. In my first year of college, I battled with intense bouts of homesickness and it didn't help much that we didn’t have a long Christmas vacation.
However, to my surprise, that first Christmas in college ended up becoming one of the most memorable ones of my life. I had a bunch of terrific and thoughtful friends who lit up the season by setting up a miniature Christmas tree, decorating my room and getting a gift exchange going. Most importantly, good food and plum cake were a part of the celebration! That eventually became a tradition for the rest of my college life. Every Christmas Eve, we'd get together and have a lovely time!
Christmas is ultimately a celebration of the greatest gift of God's eternal love to mankind. To further our great joy the same God has also given us the gift of community where we can belong and share good food to celebrate his love 🙂 On that delicious note, I’d like to share with you two recipes from two people whom I dearly love. These could in fact serve as a full course Indian Christmas meal!
The first is my mum-in-law’s mouth-watering biriyani.
Amma’s Pressure Cooker Mutton Biriyani
(Serves about 5-6 people)
1)Mutton – ½ kg (with bone and fat)
2)Basmati Rice – ¾ kg
3)Ghee* – 2-3 tbsp
4)Tomatoes – ½ kg (sliced)
5)Onions – ½ kg (sliced thin)
6)Curd – ½ cup
7)Lemon juice – from half a lemon
8)Whole spices – cardamom (3), cinnamon (2 sticks), cloves (4)
9)Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
10)Red Chilly powder – 2 tsp
11)Garlic – 2 pods ground into a fine paste
12)Ginger – 3 inch piece ground into a fine paste
13)Mint leaves – 2 tbsp finely ground
14)Coriander leaves - 2 tbsp finely ground
15)Green chillies* – 3-4 slit lengthwise
16)Eggs – 3
17)Cashew nuts, raisins and chopped coriander leaves - for garnishing
1) Soak the rice for 30 minutes. Wash, drain and keep it aside.
2) Fry cashew nuts, raisins and about 1/4th of the sliced onions in ghee/oil. Set them aside for garnishing at the very end.
3) Heat ghee/oil in the pressure cooker pan. Crackle the whole spices and turmeric powder for about 30-40 secs. Make sure the spices don’t burn.
4) Sauté the remaining onions until they turn golden brown.
5) Add tomatoes, ground ginger and garlic paste, green chillies and red chilly powder and mix well. Fry for about 10 minutes on a low flame.
6) Add mutton pieces, curd, mint and coriander leaves paste and sauté for another 10 minutes.
7) Add 1 cup of water and mix well. Cover the pressure cooker with the lid and cook the mutton for about 15-20 minutes.
8) Once the pressure drops, open the lid and add rice. Mix well. (About 1 cup of gravy will already be there in the pressure cooker by now).
9) Add 4 cups of water and the lemon juice. Place the cleaned raw eggs in the cooker. Cover with the lid and cook. Wait for the first whistle. Cook for exactly three minutes after that. Turn the flame off and let the pressure drop completely before opening the lid.
10) Remove the boiled eggs. Peel and slice them in half.
11) Garnish the biriyani with fried onions, chopped coriander leaves, fried cashew nuts and raisins, and serve.
12) Papad, raita and pickle are excellent accompaniments to biriyani.
1) Ghee can be replaced with oil. Although, the flavour of the biriyani is enhanced if you add ghee 🙂
2) You can reduce the quantity of green chillies according to your spice preference.
3) You can use a 5 litres pressure cooker for the above quantity.
The next one is a dessert recipe courtesy of my friend Deepz (who also happens to be one of those lovely friends who lit up my Christmases in college!!)
Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce
For the Pudding
1)Water – 300 ml
2)Dates (seedless) – 250 gms (chopped)
3)Baking soda – 1 tsp
4)Butter – 75 gm
5)Eggs – 2 lightly beaten
6)Self raising flour* -1 cup
7)Brown sugar – 1 cup
For the Caramel Sauce
1)Butter – 60 gms
2)Brown sugar – ½ cup
3)Cream – 200 ml
1)Preheat oven to 180 degree Celsius.
2)Boil the dates in water in a saucepan. Turn the heat off.
3)Add baking soda and stir.
4)Add butter and stir until its melted.
5)Add the eggs
6)Mix them through quickly so that the eggs don’t get cooked.
7)Add flour and brown sugar. Mix until well combined.
8)Pour the mixture into a 9 inch lined baking tray.
9)Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until it is done.
1)Melt butter, brown sugar and cream in a saucepan. Turn the flame off when it gets to a saucy consistency. Make sure not to let it boil.
2)Pour the cooled sauce on top of the sticky date pudding and serve!
1)I have listed down the quantities exactly as per the original recipe. However, it can tend to be super sweet. So, I did reduce the quantity of sugar by half when I made it and it still tasted delicious.
2)Substitution for self-raising flour:- For 1 cup of self–raising flour, add 1.5 tsp baking powder + ¼ tsp salt to 1 cup all-purpose flour.
3)Source – simplecookingchannel on YouTube