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Indian Christmas dinner


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Hi all,

been away for a while, but the pressures of Christmas have brought me back. I'm married to an Indian and as the family chef, have been tasked with cooking for all the in-laws yet again! Thing is, they always claim that they want a 'traditional' English Xmas dinner - which I do believe they love. However, last year, I made an Indian alternative chicken dish - pieces marinated in garlic and ginger and roasted with spices - and it suddenly became the winner. So, I think I'll go full-blown Indian this year, except with the constituent ingredients of the traditional feast. Something along the lines of:


spicy prawn cocktail starter

Main meal:

Whole Tandoori roast Cockeral (what I need is to get that red-roasted effect with the tinge of marinade going well into the breast meat)

Sage and onion stuffing

South Indian stuffing (curry leaves, split urad daal, chillies, mustard seed etc - a crunchy stuffing)

Spicy roasted potatoes (Jeera etc)

Minted peas

Carrots with jeera/thania (coriander)

Brussel sprouts with caremalised onions, chillies and ginger

A gravy made in the traditional way, but with some curry leaves, imli (tamarind) and chillie (I may also use a little pre-prepared Gitt's sambhal powder)


Flambeed Christmas Pudding (already spicy enough!) with brandy butter

Any ideas? Advice? Cries of "Don't do it!"? Suggestions?

Come on e Gullet - don't let me down!

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It's a big celebration. Break out the saffron, kewda & nuts on the poultry, if you can. Twist the Christmas pudding with some cardamom

Good ideas. I have a large amount of saffron that the mother-in-law brought back from India, so I'll add some to the marinade and then sprinkle some over the bird as it roasts.

Maybe some silver leaf on the cardamom pudding?!

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Sounds like you have a fairly thought out plan. What part of India is your wife from? I ask because I see you have some Southern elements and some Northern.

I suppose my family's Christmas comes with a different situation. I want to keep Indian factor high for my own preference and for my immediate family (Mum, Dad, brother) but we also need to keep some traditional things for my two fully English grans.

For our Christmas, the men-folk deal with the non-veg so I don't know what happens to the turkey. Think it's pretty traditional. We also have roast potatoes and gravy made in the normal way, some plain veg and some spicy (but not particularly Indian) vegetarian stuffing. Then we have some kind of dal, some beautiful looking pulao and a sprouts dish cooked in South Indian style. I usually do a small amount of raita too. There is also chutney to go alongside the traditional cranberry sauce, and for dessert usually kheer.

I am telling you know that roast potatoes dunked in dal is heavenly and should be on all festive menus!

If I had free reign, I would do things totally differently. The main feature would be either biriyani (if most of the company was non-veg) or a fantastic looking pulao. Then I'd make dal, a dry vegetable, one wet vegetable dish and a wet paneer-vegetable dish. Raita, chutney, pickles on the side, plus probably some kind of roti. I would keep the dessert as kheer. High use of nuts, ghee, dried fruits and saffron to signify the occassion.

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Zacky, what a wonderful idea. I am sure your in-laws would love it.

Your dessert doesn't sound Indian enough :) Why not make a lassi ice cream to go with your pudding?

There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw
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... they always claim that they want a 'traditional' English Xmas dinner - which I do believe they love.

My guess is that you should respect that, but since an Indian dish was well-accepted last year, provide more Indian options this year. That way, nobody will be disappointed.

Of course, if I were a guest, I'd be perfectly happy with all Indian (prefer it, actually), so I guess it depends on how well you know your audience.

Dick in Northbrook, IL

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I'd vote for ginger ice-cream.

And/or some other cooling dairy on the menu, such as a yogurt salad.

I'd also suggest chapatis on the table, or another bland starch, to give the palate a rest from the many spicy dishes.

Sounds like you're fixed on the traditional Xmas pudding for dessert. If not, you could consider a Parsi wedding custard. One recipe I googled here:


Edited by djyee100 (log)
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I had the commercially prepared version of this recipe for kulfi ice cream. It was quite tasty and would make a nice addition to your Christmas dinner (Indian, traditional, or otherwise).

I'm with the folks who say go traditional but add a couple of more Indian sides, though. It's best to transition into the un-traditional slowly rather than all at once. And since you started with one dish last year, doing two or three wouldn't be too much too soon, but doing a completely Indian-influenced meal might be.

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I'm with the folks who say go traditional but add a couple of more Indian sides, though. It's best to transition into the un-traditional slowly rather than all at once. And since you started with one dish last year, doing two or three wouldn't be too much too soon, but doing a completely Indian-influenced meal might be.

I agree. Having gone gung-ho into the idea of an Indian-ised Xmas dinner, I am thinking that tradition must be upheld, but some more sides can satisfy the curry-lust.

I will post the final menu for everyone's delectation. In the meantime, I continue to appreciate excellent ideas such as Kulfi ice cream! Keep 'em coming!

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Sounds like you have a fairly thought out plan. What part of India is your wife from? I ask because I see you have some Southern elements and some Northern.

Good point.

She is Panjabi, but we all love all Indian food and I'mactually more a fan of the southern style - less heavy and spicier! I'm kind of torn between the desire to do it really traditionally, as you do - but with some Indian sides and then, going all the way and creating some fusion, possibly CONfusion, dishes. I am also kind of stuck with the idea of carving into a 5kg bird and seeing that lovely tandoori-style marinade going into the breast meat!

I guess I'll equip myself with all the ingredients and see what happens!

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Okay guys,

here's what I've decided - I'm going to do a whole roast tandoori bird. Question is - can I keep the pleasure of the skin by separating the skin and flesh (as I would if I was roasting a non-Indian chicken - adding butter to keep the breast moist) and adding the yoghurt marinade that way? I can have more marinade outside on the skin; top-up in between with some softened butter mixed with tandoori spices just before popping it into the oven, and - theoretically - get marinaded, moist tandoori breast on the inside, with crispy tandoori skin on the outside.

Or, is this trying too hard to get the best of both worlds, when I should be happy with getting one right?

Then, there's the option of doing one skinned bird tandoori style, with another - crispy skinned and western, alongside. There may even be a very bad joke I can make about my wife and I representing the different chickens!

Man, I get carried away with food at the best of times, but with Christmas - the urge to have a splurge - the desire to create opulence but in a casual manner - I am obsessed with this at the moment!

Also, I've sold myself on the idea of an Indian stuffing and Indian potatoes and I've been sold on the idea of a daal to go with that (also, it;s a good veggy sauce for my mother in law who is Amritshakar). There will be pakore and samose with imli dee chutney coming from her house as starters and some imli dee chutney can be served alongside my father-in-law's amazing green chutney.

So, it's all coming together slowly but I'd still really appreciate the input of anyone still reading this thread! Seems a pity it got tucked away in the India section, really, as the idea of basting a chicken this way and achieving this end result has far wider-reaching implications...

Did I say I got carried away with food?

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Menu sounds good.

If the chicken skin is marinated in the tandoori spices with yogurt, I am afraid it may not yield a crispy skin.

If you want a crispy skin, might I suggest a slight modification to prepare chicken Chargha (http://www.desitwist.com/desi-recipes/chicken-chargha-19334.html) which has similar spices, but is pan fried for a crispy outside crust and succulent inside. Perhaps the legs can be prepare in this fashion while the rest of the chick can be made the way you described.

Just a thought.

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