During the industrial revolution, the 12 Days of Christmas were relegated to the background and the big celebrations were moved to Christmas Day and thus was born the Christmas cake. People believe Christmas cakes are a tradition that began as plum porridge, which evolved into Christmas pudding with the addition of rich fruit, spices, and honey, and eventually incorporated butter, flour, and eggs to create a cake.
With the advent of Christianity around the world, the cake too has morphed. For example, in Japan, the Christmas cake is a frosted sponge cake with strawberries, chocolates, or seasonal fruit, while in the Philippines Christmas cake is a yellow pound cake with nuts or a traditional British fruitcake.
India too has its indigenous cake collection and for the thousands of Indians living in the west, who want a taste of Indian spices while celebrating a Western festival, these cakes can be a way to celebrate both cultures!
The first indigenous cake from India takes one down to the shores of pristine Goa, with its sandy beaches, sapphire waves, and festive mood. The Bebinca, also known as a bibik, is a traditional layered cake from the region which has been derived from Goa’s Indo-Portuguese cuisine. For the unversed, the Portuguese invaded Goa in 1510 and would go on to rule for close to 500 years. Noticeably, their culture, architecture, and undoubtedly cuisine, slowly seeped into that of the Goan landscape, giving rise to some intricate food aesthetics.
While traditionally a Bebinka has between 7 to 16 layers, it can be modified as per tastes and is a Christmas delicacy. The preparation takes time is predominantly made with flour, ghee, egg yolk, and coconut milk.
- 200 grams refined gram flour
- 500 grams sugar
- 10 egg yolks
- 200 ml coconut milk
- 5 grams Nutmeg powder
- 200 grams butter
- The recipe requires you to first mix the coconut milk, flour, sugar, and egg yolks into a batter.
- Once done, grease an oven-proof dish with a spoonful of melted butter and pour 75 ml of the batter into the dish, and spread evenly. Bake it till golden brown.
- Once done, spread another spoonful of butter following it with another 75 ml batter, and bake.
- The recipe requires about an hour to make and can serve four.
The Chenna Poda owes its roots to an Odia village called Dasapalla. Made from milk solids and semolina, food historians say that the owner of a confectionary Bidyadhara Sahu decided to add sugar and seasonings to leftover cottage cheese and left it in the oven overnight, resulting in the popular delicacy.
Chhena Poda literally translates to ‘burnt sweet cheese’ and sees the basic kneaded at first into a dough and then filled into containers lined with Sal leaves, which are then baked over a bed of lightly smoldering charcoals.
- 2 liter milk
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp semolina
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tsp clarified butter
- 5 chopped almonds
- 5 chopped cashews
- 2 tbsp raisins
- 1.4 tsp cardamom powder
- Take crumbled paneer into a large mixing bowl and slightly mash it till the texture is uniform. Once done, add 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tbsp rava to it and mix well until the sugar completely melts.
- Now add water and turn it into a smooth cake batter.
- Once done, add 1 tsp clarified butter, 5 chopped almonds, 5 chopped cashews, and a tbsp of raisins along with the cardamom powder to it. Mix well.
- Transfer the batter into a cake mold and cover and cook on medium heat for 25 minutes, or preheat and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes.
Well, this might sound unusual, but did you know that the popular Ghevar is a sort of cake as well?
A disc-shaped sweet cake made with wheat flour soaked in sugar syrup, it also makes use of ghee, milk, and water to form a batter, which is then deep-fried, into a honeycomb-like golden disc. The Rajasthani mithai is used for Teej, Gangaur, and Makar Sankranti, but for those living in the West, Christmas could be the perfect time to incorporate a bit of Indian flavor to the Western festival.
- 1/2 cup clarified butter
- 1 block ice
- 2 cup refined flour
- 1/2 cup chilled milk
- 3 cup chilled water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
For sugar syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- Oil/ ghee for deep frying
- 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
- Take ½ cup ghee and rub with an ice block.
- Add 2 cups of refined flour crumble well.
- Then add 1/2 cup chilled milk and give a rough stir.
- Add 3 cups of chilled water, 1 tsp lemon juice, and make a smooth batter.
- Pour 2 tbsp of batter keeping a good distance from the hot oil. The batter will initially splatter and later subside. Repeat the process 10 to 15 times. Pull out the Ghevar and drain the oil.
- Pour sugar syrup over the fried cake and garnish with chopped nuts and cardamom powder before serving.
Umang Sharma is a media professional, avid reader, and film buff. His interests lie in making the world a better place through the power of the written word.