A month of joy and merriment is coming to an end with the New Year celebrations tonight. A feeling of nostalgia struck me when I thought about making a new year resolution. Every year we make a resolution to bring a change in ourselves that will last for a few weeks and then we are back to the old ways. On flipping the pages from memory I noticed that changing lifestyle has given a new twist to the Christmas celebrations. Read how to prepare nutritious and healthy honey-oat bread.
The arrival of Christmas season is heralded when people busily go shopping for nuts and fruits to be soaked in wine for atleast three weeks in advance before the preparation of the plum cakes. Few days before Christmas, people go to bakeries with all the ingredients and patiently watch as the batter is mixed and baked in the industrial oven. Normally every family bake fifty to sixty cakes and wrap with colorful papers to distribute to friends, neighbors, clients, colleagues and helpers. Friends reminds in advance about their share of Christmas cake.
How plum cake became the symbol of Christmas, like Santa Claus, I am sure. But every year, for the last few years during Christmas season, people consider it a ritual to bake plum cakes and, wear Santa caps and masks.
Two decade back my mother used to bake the cake at home. And the recipe was quite simple. Equal amount of all purpose flour, butter, sugar, eggs and a few nuts. Cake was one of the few snacks that mother prepared for Christmas along with Rose cookies, doughnuts, murukku,….. On Christmas days mummy packed all the delicacies in colourful boxes and we kids distributed the gifts to our neighbors and friends. Somehow all my childhood friends remember only the Christmas cakes.
My mother who made tasty cakes, never made cakes at home during her childhood Christmas. During her childhood the main Christmas delicacy was the appam (kallappam) a flat bread made of rice flour, ground coconut; and yeast (or toddy) for fermenting. Days before Christmas grandma reminded the coconut tree climber for some fresh toddy (yeast was not common in those day). She then soaked the raw rice, drained it. Family members and servants took turn to powder the rice with a mortar and pestle. During the Christmas season all the children and grand children The coconut is grated and ground and mixed with rice powder and toddy to make a smooth bath. It is left to ferment overnight. On Christmas day the batter is poured on hot tawa to prepare nice round rice cake. The appam was distributed with chicken curry to the neighbours and helpers family. Many guests come home to have appam and curry. All the children and grand children will gather at the ancestral home for Christmas.
Customs have changed in the last four decades. Tough we never took a new year resolution to change the style to celebrating Christmas, we have added many elements to the celebrations. We use yeast instead of toddy for appam. Wine is used in cakes. We distribute cakes instead of Greeting cards. Instead of inviting relatives home, we go out to celebrate Christmas. But the spirit of sharing during Christmas is still alive.
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