Move over, turkey and pudding! There’s a new Christmas feast in town!

Published: December 23, 2017
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Enjoy these delicious recipes and have a very Merry Christmas! PHOTO: ARHAMA SIDDIQA

Most of us are familiar with Christmas carols. We have either grown up listening to them live or on television. “Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa la la la la la la la!” is a tune not unknown to many of us, hence the beauty of globalisation.

The holidays are not only the perfect occasion to spend time with loved ones while eating your weight in cookies; they’re also the ideal opportunity to sing your heart out. And most of us are familiar with Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, an instant bestseller, published almost 173 years ago.

In a nutshell, Christmas is the season for joy and forgiveness. Dickens captures it beautifully when he said,

“I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all year.”

And as should we all.

This year, I came up with an easy yet scrumptious Christmas feast, especially for all those who’d rather spend the break around a warm fireplace (read: heaters). Impress yourself and your loved ones, or your guests if you’re hosting a Christmas gathering, with some juicy roast chicken and my aunt’s favourite upside-down pineapple cake.

Roast chicken:

Move over turkey. Your overgrown, dry dominion over Christmas dinner is at an end. Well, even though we don’t really cook turkey meat that often in Pakistan, I have seen this so often as a centerpiece in movies that I felt like saying it.

Knowing how to make roast chicken is just a really handy skill to have, and one which shouldn’t be stressful or tricky. I believe that every chef should have a delicious roast chicken recipe in his/her repertoire. Today, in the spirit of Christmas, I am sharing mine. Why chicken you may ask? Well, it’s got great flavour, the meat is easier to roast properly without drying out, and it still is a beautiful centerpiece for a Christmas, or any other, feast.

Serve the chicken on a bed of potatoes or rice (I air-fried my potatoes) and garnish it with green chillies, or any other vegetables of your choice.

Ingredients:

Full chicken – 1

Peri peri sauce medium – 5 tbsp

Ginger garlic paste – 2 tbsp

Soy sauce – 2 tsp

Worcester sauce – 2 tsp

Salt to taste

Lemon juice – 3 tbsp

Red chilli flakes – 1 tbsp

Pepper – 1 tsp

Vegetables of your choice – cut in cubes or as per your liking (I picked potatoes and green chillies, but you can pair it with your favourite veggies)

Method:

1. Marinate chicken for good three to four hours in all the spices and sauces mentioned above and bake it in the oven for one hour at 180 degrees in a roasting bag.

2. Place the roast chicken on a platter and place the roasted/air-fried veggies next to it.

Upside-down Pineapple Cake

The single most requested cake at our family and friend gatherings is my aunt’s upside-down pineapple cake. She’ll look for almost any excuse to make it, and we never get tired of it. So why not try this simple and appetising cake rather than the traditional bread pudding. This is the perfect finisher to a heavy meal. Couple it with vanilla ice cream and you have a winner.

Mind you,the height will not be the same as any other regular cake since baking soda is not part of the ingredients. Hence, it will come out sort of thin and flat, so do not be alarmed by its irregular appearance!

Ingredients:

Unsalted butter softened – 250g

Fine granulated sugar – 1 cup

Eggs – 4

All-purpose flour (sifted) – 2 cups

Baking powder – 2tbsp

Pineapple essence – 1tsp

Vanilla essence – 1tbsp

Brown sugar – ¾ cup

Cherries – as per your liking

Pineapple slices (drained) – 1 can

Method:

1. Preheat oven at 180 degrees.

2. Beat cream, butter and sugar together. The longer you beat it, the better it’ll be.

3. Add eggs one by one to the above mixture and beat.

4. Sieve flour with baking powder and add to the creamy mixture.

5. Mix in the essences. If the mixture looks too thick, add 2-3 tablespoons of pineapple juice from the can.

6. Grease a cake pan and arrange the pineapple slices with cherries in the pan.

7. Melt brown sugar with a few drops of water on the stove. Once melted, pour this caramel over the pineapple layer.

8. Pour the batter on top of the pineapples and bake for about 45 minutes, or till the cake test comes out clean.

9. Let it cool a bit before serving with some vanilla ice cream.

And voila, there you have it! The perfect, yet easy and delicious Christmas feast! Enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas!

All photos: Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

Arhama Siddiqa

The author is a LUMS and University of Warwick Alumnus and is currently a Research Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI). She calls herself a bibliophile,a dreamer and an avid foodie. She also has a food website at www.chakhoous.com

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Hamsid

    where were you all lost?Recommend

  • Hamsid

    I am not a beef person at all sadly so chicken it is =p
    I agree just the holiday season it is and pecan pie has started major cravings now!Recommend

  • Hamsid

    Through inheritance? I think thats a great idea handing down books because they stay with you forever, someone said ab toa e-books hoti hain but its not the same thing!
    Uncle Scrooge is a universal name! I am tempted to start reading all the classics now
    air fried in this machine I have – no oil required so healthy to boot and easily done!
    and about the chicken , if you foil it up properly , the steam makes it all soft- not dry at all , but yes skin locks in the flavours much better , but parents prefer it without skin hence …
    Christmas custard is a great idea , sadly- I blame my laziness here majorly among other events that occurred this blog was too hurried so not well executed at all =/ My apologies
    Please do tell us about the cakes! , insightful dialogue is NOT rambling =pRecommend

  • Patwari

    No. Did post comment. Saying the taller in the
    photograph looked like Deepika. Recommend

  • Patwari

    A beef lover here. Chuck roast, top sirloin, prime rib, strip steak,
    filet mignon, beef stroganoff, plain qeema, Beef Wellington and a
    multitudes of other beef cuts. Plus Chappali kababs. Give me beef.
    Chicken, can do once every two weeks. Preferably b-b-qued or tandoori.
    [Or Multani style chicken karhai. Cooked at a roadside restaurant. Near
    the Multan railway station, while on a road trip. Cook had 14 karhais in front
    of him! Cooking different meats, as ordered. Had a very long handled ladle.
    To reach every karhai.]
    Chicken Kiev is favorite chicken dish. And, rarely, lamb chops, cooked the
    French way, with mint jelly.
    Fish. No no. Double no. Allergic to it.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    And that never got posted =pRecommend

  • Hamsid

    You’r allergic to all kinds of fish? that can’t be so! fish if cooked right is amazing !
    your description of roadside restaurants has made me want to go to one NOW!
    chicken kiev.. you have basically added to the long list I will make IA !Recommend

  • Patwari

    Well, if, after eating fish, you break out in red blotches, on your
    skin, couple of hours later, each time, without fail,…then……
    Strangely enough, can eat shell fish, like shrimp, mussels, clams,
    oysters, crabs, lobsters, ONLY. Without starting to look like Spot,
    later.Recommend

  • Parvez

    You’re right….come to think of it I did read or see somewhere a gadget that cooks with hot air and if you say it works….then it works.
    I have a fair collect of classic books that I’ve never read Dickens, H.G.Wells, Maupassant, Shaw, Shakespeare, all the works of the old Philosophers and a lot more…. and all this from my grandfather.
    I just love Christmas cake and only today morning I picked up one without the icing and two Christmas puddings with custard on the side.
    But every Christmas I would go to my friends who made his own cakes and it was nothing like the stuff you get in even good cake shops, it was just far, far superior…..and he always said, it required a lot of work.
    On cooking chicken with the skin, yes I suppose the foil would help and I agree parents come first.
    To be honest end of year used be a fun time in Karachi right upto the mid 70’s….now its just like any other day…..unless you are on the private party circuit and I’m not.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Fish allergy is very real……my friend’s wife gets completely choked up if she eats any shell fish like prawns or crab but she’s good with ordinary fish…..so I suppose the two are not linked.Recommend

  • AJ

    I love your easy to make yet delicious recipes. After successful attempt of your apple crumble recipe (it’s a hit yayyy :) thank you ) I’m definitely going to try these two.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    no no I do know about fish allergy but allergic from all kinds was a new for me =/Recommend

  • Hamsid

    ahh I am sorry to hear that , amen for beef AND chickenRecommend

  • Hamsid

    I can see where your love for books and travelling I might add stems from ?
    define christmas cake please? is it like normal sponge cake?

    And its not just the year end, its all events- eid etc , its just not celebrated the same wayRecommend

  • Hamsid

    Oh I just googled one recipe , A LOT OF ingredients – sort of like a traditional fruit cake is that right?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Books……I’m an on-again-off-again reader and travel was due to my profession. In ’73 I had Christmas and New Year in a place called Luanda ( Angola ) …. and little did we know that a coup ( War of Angolan Independence ) was going on and we roamed around, went to a beautiful midnight church service and although soldiers with guns were all over the place, everyone was eating, drinking and having a good time.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Christmas cake is Christmas cake…..on the inside its dark brown and full of dry fruit and yummy stuff and traditionally the outer is covered with white sugar icing with Christmas decorations and Merry Christmas written on top….as I said before according to my friend a really good cake take a lot of preparation and effort.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    I am glad =)
    do try and let me know how they turn out !Recommend

  • Parvez

    A saw somewhere that its better to roast the chicken upright instead of flat. Try a Bundt cake baking pan …..stand the chicken upright using the central pipe of the pan inserted into the chicken cavity…..apparently it cooks well. I asked my wife if she has ever used this method and she said …NO. So if you try it do let us know and if it flops you know who to blame.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    that is SUCH a unique way of roasting a chicken , Parvez why don’t you try it as well !Recommend

  • Hamsid

    I think I have said it so many times , and I’ll say it yet again!
    please document your travels, people would love to hear them. And if I may ask what exactly was your profession?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Try, try and try again….. you may even succeed someday.Recommend

  • Parvez

    You keep writing these delightful food blogs and I’ll tell you a story from my travel days if it fits in…..I still do travel about once a year now but not professionally. Telling you would be no fun….you guess.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Madam….you have a long wait ahead of you.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    I am bad at guessing! But I’ll hedge you being either a journalist or an entrepreneur dealing with export goods primarily?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Ha, ha …… wrong on both counts. When you get it right, I promise to go in the kitchen and cook something …… ok, something easy.Recommend

  • Hamsid

    Hahah done deal! but this could take quite some time =/Recommend

  • AJ

    Thank you. This technique seems interesting and will probably work. I don’t have the required pan yet but I will buy it for the sake of a better roast. 😊Recommend

  • AJ

    I used your recipe (with a few changes) Happy with the result. Thanks. 😊 Haven’t used the bundt pan technique (no bundt pan yet). I am in search of methods to make the outer part crispy and moist from inside. Maybe if I had put in the oven for longer.Recommend