There are puddings and there are puddings. Then, there are Christmas puddings. And, finally, there are the Christmas puddings created by a particular lady with whom I claim familial proximity. It’s no mean coincidence that she is dear to me. She is a great cook, is Harjyot Phoolka.
Heavy with fruits and nuts, moist with brandy and dark with age—though it is quite impossible to devour huge portions of it (believe me, I’ve tried), every morsel you sink your teeth into, is intended to ferry you through the festive season in high ‘spirits’. Show me someone who disagrees and I’ll show you a deprived soul. At the very least, a soul deprived of the lip-smacking, stupor-inducing delights that this lady conjures up—within a short span of three months and three hours.
This rich, steamed dessert has its origins in England and is tradition bound to appear on the table on Christmas day. Sometimes, lit after being doused with more brandy, it arrives in a vapour of blue flames. This ritual has a curious tale attached to it. Right up to the last but one century, Christmas Eve was spent playing a parlour game called Snap-dragon. A basinful of brandy-soaked raisins was set aflame and placed in the centre of a table. You were then meant to salvage the raisins from the basin and pop them into your mouth, even at the risk of being scorched. I’m guessing the winner would have to be the one with the maximum blisters!
No marks for why that particular festivity was shelved.
I am mighty glad, though, that my favourite Christmas practice is well-maintained till date—brandy butter. It is prepared with unsalted butter, brown sugar, spices and, as the name suggests, brandy. Just one spoonful of this molten glee over your castor sugar-sprinkled portion takes you on a ride only Santa Claus could have promised.
I’m told these puddings have amazing lasting properties, allowing people to relish this treat through to the following Christmas as well. I have no practical experience of this because each time that I have cajoled, coaxed, blackmailed, threatened or sweet-talked a pudding out of my aunt, it has lasted only long enough for me to be able to describe the experience. Not an instant longer.
Still, you don’t have to take my word for it, simply order your own at +91 9876706064.
In the meantime, here’s wishing you all a very Mmmmmerry Christmmmmmas! Also hoping you will excuse me for writing with my mouth full…. 😉