And it's taken me three long years to get my head around. However this will be my third Indian Christmas and this is...
"My Christmas Story"
(not the baby Jesus one)
The First Christmas
(I do apologise if you have come across my blog googling *Nativity*)
The first of December arrived, The First Day Of Advent, which for me heralds the start of the festive Season, I woke up to no Advent Calendar and blazing sunshine, both very alien Christmas concepts.
I have always been literally obsessed with Christmas and as a child would plan everything as if I were Mini Martha Stewart and record all the events in my annual home-made Christmas Book. Which contained endless lists for presents, cards, decoration styles, menus, table layouts and other personal anal recordings. My (so called) maturity has in no shape or form, quashed my
So there I was in a galaxy far far away (well the SE Asian Sub Continent) with no tree, no decorations, no advent calendar.... Boy was I homesick. As Christmas Day started to approach there was still no tree, no decorations, no advent calendar and so to try and cheer me up BF, bless him, took me to the local nursery where he did his best to find as close to a Christmas tree as he possibly could.
Multiple hours later and courtesy of me, multiple brat attacks later and him doing his best not to lose his temper with the multiple brat attack chick he clearly loves (well at least tolerates), we returned home with a Monkey Tree. Deciding that if you drank several cocktails and then squinted out of the corner of one eye, it might actually look a bit like a Norwegian Spruce. (It still didn't)
So to jazz it up a bit we wrapped the least multi coloured old Diwali lights we could find around it. Next came the issue of wires and plug points...
Indians appear to perceive plug points, wires & electricity trip boxes to be attractive wall features and proudly display them everywhere. All plug points in the Indian household are all different shapes and sizes, therefore you find yourself reverting back to your toddler years (remember playing with those shape sorters?) wandering around with plugs seeing which shape will fit into which attractive wall feature. And it's always a good idea to keep a rubber flip flop near your attractive wall feature/electrical box, just incase you make the school girl error of switching the fairy lights on when the oven is on.
Anyways we found a matching attractive wall feature and proudly displayed the long black extension chord and after a few cocktails and squinting out of the corner of one eye, we stood back and admired our 'Twinkling Twiglet' (whilst still drinking & squinting)
By the 22nd of December we discovered a shop called 'Archies' which sold a few ornaments, it was hardly Harrod's Christmas room, but in this seasonal desert it became my little oasis.
Though despite the continued drinking/squinting combo I still couldn't help thinking about Charlie Browns Christmas Tree...
So we had a tree, some lights and some wonky ornaments now to plan Christmas dinner.
This challenge started to make tree buying look like a doddle and it was clear there were going to be some issues...
1. No turkeys, dead or alive
2. No brussel sprouts, cranberries, sausage stuffing
3. No gravy granules, browning, of any type
4. No yorkshire pudding tins
5. No cake tins whatsoever, so no pudding, cake or yule log whatsoever
(A friend thought mince pies actually contained beef)
Once again, trying to lift my spirits BF, suggested we go out for Christmas Dinner. Being exceptionally more anal than usual in this festive season I suggested we book and look at Christmas Menus, how stupid of me, what was I thinking? I had obviously forgotten that no one makes reservations for anything in India, least of all dinner.
So we dressed up to the nines, suited and booted and off we went to the most International and cosmopolitan hotel the city had to offer, Here's how it went:-
US "We'd like a table for two for Christmas Lunch please"
THEM "The main restaurant is closed, we have a cafe"
(We sat in the cafe for a few minutes still dressed to the nines and suited and booted, whilst folk around us were sipping Cappuccino and eating pastries in shorts and t-shirts)
US "Can we see the menu?"
THEM "Indian snacks"
US "Okay bye then"
We drove around the city looking for somewhere to eat, everywhere was either closed or offering Dal/Rice/Indian Snacks and it started to take on the similarity of the real First Christmas (Nativity googlers I hope you're still reading) as we became the Mary & Joseph of Maharastra.
(without the imminent arrival of God's son obviously)
Finally we caved in and just like Mary & Joseph settled for what we had to, in their case a stable in Bethlehem, in our case, fried chicken in a downtown hotel lobby. However it was good fried chicken, though technically by this stage we were so hungry it could have been a monkey fried in phlegm and we would have chowed on down.
Later on that evening, still dressed to the nines, still suited and booted we decided we would have one last crack at Christmas so off we went to a newly opened trendy club/bar/restaurant to see what seasonal delights they would offer us. The seasonal delights on offer turned out to be more Indian snacks and drunken Bollywood Karaoke and despite my home sickness and disappointment at my non existent traditional day, no Shepherd's or Wise Men could have made it any more special than BF did and at least we were dressed more suitably to our surroundings this time and just for the record BF looks mighty handsome suited and booted ;)
As the next day was Boxing Day (funny how that always falls the day after Christmas) it was no more venturing out into the Winter Wonderland Desert so we stayed home, pretended it was snowing, or even vaguely cold outside and sat by our imaginary log fire tucked into a hearty warming Winter Wonderland recipe I created for supper...
Curried Christmas Quesapatis
*Imaginary Yuletide Log Fire Optional
1 cup of Mince or Keema
2 tsp of equal measures cumin/coriander/garam masala + curry powder to taste
couple of ripe tomatoes diced + 1 firm tomato diced for garnish
1 tsp of ginger & garlic paste
1 tbsp of tomato puree/paste
1 tsp of sugar
1 small red onion finely diced
1 cup of chicken stock
1/2 cup of cooked basmati rice
Good handful of grated cheese
Sweet chilli sauce &
Coriander leaves to garnish
Heat oil in deep fryer, take one chapati and with a small clean empty can carefully plunge into oil to shape a 'cup case' Pat dry & set aside (this is optional, if you can't be bothered a regular bowl is fine)
Brown mince/keema in a pan and set aside
Gently fry off onion in some oil and add spices in the same pan
Throw in diced ripe tomatoes and sprinkle with sugar and simmer till softened
Add stock (little at a time) and puree
Return mince/keema to the pan until tender & cooked
Warm the remaining chapatis & place meat mixture on 2 of them & top with cheese
Heat under a grill/broiler until cheese melts
Place the remaining 2 chapati's on top and grill again
Meanwhile fill chapati 'cup case' with rice (if you can be bothered)
Cut each Quesapati' into fours and serve with rice cup case, sweet chilli sauce & coriander leaves
We accompanied it with salsa & sour cream
Snuggle up & enjoy the sharing plate and dream of Christmas futures...
To be Continued...