The Bong Christmas Platter
With Christmas around the corner, it is time to salute the diversity the Christian community alone has to its name. They have been bifurcated on the basis of religious as well as culturally that, the diasporas might appear hazy to someone from outside the community. Kolkata has its own share of Christians-Protestants, Greek Orthodox and the more popular Roman Catholics. However, it still is confusing as to how the far amid these subsects of Christians in Bengal vary so much.
This Christmas take a look at the not much spoken about Bengali Christian community that I have grown up with thanks to a very propah Convent school background spanning 14 Years.
The Bengali Christian is unrecognizable except for their prayers and surnames sometimes. Ranging from Rozario to Sarkar—some surnames even get lost in the list of similar Hindu titles. The food in such homes is a little offbeat. It is almost like the coming together of Bengali cuisine and a touch of own innovations.
The Bong Christmas Platter
On Christmas, Bengali Christians barely feast on beef or pork. They stick to chicken fish and even the simple veggies of daily routine. Their cakes are not rum or wine based. They bake plain fruitcakes that are browned a little too much on the day before Christmas. I have not seen my Bengali Christian friends soaking the cake ingredients much longer before Christmas. This is perhaps more of an Anglo Indian Christian tradition in Kolkata.
No, there are no rose cookies served. Bengali Christians choose to serve the chanachur, plain fruitcake and jujubes to guests for Christmas. Some even fry a crispy omelette with lots of chillies and onions thrown in. Humble—that is the best word describing Christmas meals at a Bengali Christian household.
The platter comprises offbeat yet interesting items such as bhaja curry. This is a thin curry made from both fried fish coupled with fried eggplant. The spices are subtle with onion seeds or kala jeera and turmeric taking top ranks. The curry is not the gravy you imagine it to be. It is in fact, watery to say at best.
Bengali Christian lunches for Christmas generally have minced mutton gravy with lots of to potato and peas thrown in. Accompanied with parantha made from maida – this keen curry is a staple across most Bengali Christian home during the festive season.
This is another classic item that the Christians of the Bengali community use popularly during festive season. Half potato and half egg mixed up in an oval, this is then fried, after a layer of biscuit crumb coating. A quickly chopped rough chunky salad made from carrots, onion and cucumber served along with mustard sauce (kasundi) as an accompaniment.
Chicken bhuni is another unique items made from chicken and lots of garlic ginger paste that goes in. The marinade is simple without any hint of yoghurt that chicken gravies are famous for. The bhuni is not very rich yet has a spice quotient that makes you.lap it up with both rice and parathas. Bengali Christians even serve luchis with chicken bhuni. Rotis are not meant for Christmas Day after all.
Ending On A Festive Note
The Christmas food across Bengali Christian homes is different. Nevertheless, so is their culture that celebrates even Durga Puja with aplomb. And so is their prayers service at church—being in Bengali!!
Satarupa B. Kaur has been writing professionally since a decade now. Always on the go; she loves travel, books, playtime with her toddler as she explores new places and food!