A Christmas menu crafted with Indian recipes like samosa pot pie or crispy kale chaat that spice up the traditional holiday meal.
Christmas was something my family celebrated when we moved to the states. We aren't Christian but we adopted the fan-fare, the spirit of giving, and the opening of presents on Christmas day. Like with any American tradition, we customized the dishes for Christmas to fit out palates over the years. Here is a curated menu of what your Indian-inspired Christmas menu could look like this year.
Appetizers are crucial for Christmas day. They are what keep your guests' hunger at bay while the main course is being prepared. Here are two Indian-inspired appetizers that can easily be made ahead of time and require little effort on the day of the big feast.
Caramelized Onion Puff Pastry Swirls
Caramelized onion puff pastry swirls are reminiscent of Indian puffs and a huge party hit. They have masala caramelized onions that can be made in advance and use store-bought puff pastry for their flaky layers. The best part is that they can be assembled in the freezer weeks ahead of time and popped into the oven right before serving.
Tomato Chutney Bruschetta
To the naïve observer, these look like Italy's beloved grilled bread appetizer, bruschetta. However, upon closer inspection, this Indian spin on bruschetta uses thakkali thokku, or South Indian tomato chutney, that is spiced with mustard seeds and curry leaves for a delicious holiday dish that will whet your guests' appetite.
The holidays are a time for meals that you want to create to impress. Here are my favorite Indian dishes that I love serving during Christmas and don't require you to spend hours on the big day.
Samosa Pot Pie
Pie is an iconic part of the holiday table. It is usually a centerpiece dessert. However, this oven-baked samosa pot pie encrusted with ajwain (carom) seeds and filled with a spiced potato and pea filling is a great vegetarian showstopper. The best part is that it can easily be made vegan and can be made weeks in advance!
Fall and winter is squash season! I love highlighting squash in sambar, which is an Indian lentil stew. The sweet flesh of the pumpkin or butternut squash soaks up the spices from the sambar and kisses the stew with its sweetness. Ladle this over rice for the perfect hearty, vegan main that will also satisfy the meat-eaters.
Spinach Moong Dal
Spinach dal is that creamy, vibrant, emerald green lentil dish that is a way to sneak in your veggies! I love this rich dish that is like the traditional American creamed spinach but is creamy without being doused in cream.
Herbed Lamb Pilaf
This herbed lamb pilaf is a recipe by Nik Sharma that has roasted, fall apart meat and is a great rice dish to feed the masses. You can always substitute your red meat of choice like pork or beef but I the taste of lamb just reminds me of my childhood.
This dish is a stovetop Indian stuffing which is I also call Kothu Bread or bread upma. It is inspired by kothu parotta, a chopped bread and masala dish. This version uses ghee-roasted bread croutons that are tossed in an onion and tomato masala and coated in egg for a bright stuffing with Indian flavors.
Crispy Kale Chaat
Everyone is looking for a "green dish" for the holidays that can balance the richness from the other dishes. Well, this crispy kale chaat is that perfect green dish. It won't be set aside like other salads but cherished for its bright, tangy, and sweet flavors. This dish has kale that is baked until it is a crunchy vehicle to carry fresh veggies and sweet and spicy chutneys.
Masala Roasted Potatoes
The holidays wouldn't be complete without a potato dish. This is a bright and flavorful dish that coats baby potatoes in a rich masala for a flavorful potato that you can't resist getting seconds of.
Payasam (Indian Rice Pudding)
This Indian rice pudding that is scented with cardamom is such a great warm dessert to serve guests. It comes together in minutes with the use of condensed milk and can easily be reheated. You can top it off with traditional toppings like raisins or nuts or jazz it up for fall with spiced apples!
I don't know about you, but I love a warm dessert during the winters. This kesari is a warm ghee toasted semolina dessert also known as rava halwa and melts in your mouth upon arrival. It's a decadent dish that has pops of brightness and acidity for a dessert you can eats cups of.
The holidays is filled with long days of eating. When the time for dessert hits, I love serving a warm drink to accompany the sweets. Chai is the perfect warm drink to cozy up during the holidays. It is a cozy drink that evokes fall and is perfect even for the folks that don't have a sweet tooth.
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