Around the world, a variety of special dishes are prepared during Christmas. From meats and vegetables to desserts, certain items are intrinsic to Christmas celebrations in different cultures. And not just that, food items also hold a certain significance that make them so special for the festival. While many traditions are well-known, Christmas celebrations in Northeast India are still less explored.
Be it any festival or celebration, one thing that remains constant is desserts. No celebratory occasion is complete without sweet meats served on a platter. When one thinks of Christmas, the mind instantly wanders in the direction of the special Christmas cake. Also known as the plum cake, it is a classic festive dessert. In northeastern states, like Nagaland, there is a slight variation.
The iconic Christmas doughnuts are a type of fried sweet meat made with the dough that has been shaped in a round shape with a hole in the centre. At the time of discovery, they were referred to as oily cakes, because the dough was deep-fried in hot oil and later, covered with toppings, cream, sprinklers, and more.
These doughnuts are an important part of Christmas feasts in Nagaland. While doughnuts may be an ordinary dessert in many parts of the world, the Naga culture holds them as a cherished festive snack. Paired with hot cups of tea, the locals prepare these fried delights at home right before Christmas and are offered to guests to visit them.
It would be a grave mistake to confuse these Nagaland-special Christmas doughnuts with the regular doughnuts that we eat. The celebratory feast usually begins with pork meat cooked in bamboo shoots and gradually moves on to dessert - that is, doughnuts. What makes the latter stand out from the crowd is the fact that they are not as soft and pillowy as the usual ones.
Made with all-purpose flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and baking powder, the doughnuts are deep-fried in ghee which lends them a rich and decadent taste. It is the dark-brown colour and thin rings that make it different from the usual doughnuts. Usually made by the Ao community of Nagaland, these Christmas-special treats have a sweet and powdery taste, all thanks to the ingredients that go into their making.
Another special aspect about these doughnuts is that they are cooked over wood-fire. This is how they attain a smoky-sweet flavour and a charred appearance, making them even more tempting and drool-worthy. Although not much is known about the exact date of origin, it is believed that this practice of making these doughnuts was introduced by the Christian missionaries during the British rule and has been followed ever since then.