Food Bytes: Your Guide To Christmas Sweets And Where To Find Them In Mumbai

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It’s that time of the year when my home has starts to resemble an Indianised version of Willy Wonka’s candy factory thanks to the industrial quantities of Christmas sweets that my mum churns out! While the fragrance of marzipan bubbling on the stove drives me crazy, the sight of blushing pink coconut ice makes me give up my pledge to stay off coconut-based sweets (which are my waterloo) this season after ODing on them at Diwali. And I’m sure that in homes across our city scenes like these are playing out almost every day and will play out till it is time to lay out the good old Christmas tree and walk down to the church for mid-night mass. But what about those who don’t know how to, or simply don’t have the time to rustle up treats for the Yuletide season? Why should they be left out of all the fun? So, here is a little primer—in no particular order—on what makes up the top ten (and a half!) Christmas goodies we can never do without. But more importantly at the end of the piece I have listed out people and places who make them with all the right doses of love and garnishes of care to ensure that your days to come are sweetened up! Rich Plum CakeRich Plum Cake No Christmas celebration can ever be complete without this dark, rich fruit cake. The plums, nuts and cherries that go into it are macerated in dark rum for months before they get mixed into a batter with secret spices like nutmeg and other wonders to produce a moist, dense knockout of a cake. Approximate cost Rs 800 a kilo. MarzipansMarzipan While the original French marzipan is made from almond meal, the desi one has been employing the use of cashew nuts to come up with a sweet that is truly the Queen of Christmas. It can be either moulded into cute fruit shapes or simply rolled out onto the top of a cake for that extra indulgent layer of goodness! Approximate cost Rs 1,000 a kilo. Milk CreamMilk Cream A truly laborious sweet to make, this one sees a liter of milk reduced to a quarter to which ground cashews and sugar are added. The skill in this one is that the whiteness of the milk has got to me maintained and even the slightest hints of beige are not acceptable. Approximate cost Rs 1,000 a kilo. Kul-KulsKul-Kuls As fun as these crunchy wonders are to make, they are equally fun to eat. Basically fried bits of rolled up milk and flour dough, kul-kuls are an addiction I need to seek help to get rid of. Approximate cost Rs 600 a kilo. Coconut CakeCoconut Cake Not for the calorie counting lot, this cake is a dense, moist confection of fresh and desiccated coconut melded with salted butter and other secret ingredients. Also called 'bhat cake' in Goa and delectable to the very last crumb! Approximate cost Rs 800 a kilo. Gauva Cheese A warning: no cheese goes into the making of this halwa-like sweet that is made from the pulp of guavas that are simmered with lime juice and sugar to reach a fudgy consistency. Translucent and jelly-like this is one sweet that is worth its weight in gold. Approximate cost Rs 600 a kilo. Walnut Fudge Luscious and dense with a lingering taste of chopped walnuts and condensed milk and treacle tempting your palate this is one knockout of a sweet that may not be very traditional, but one that has come to adorn the tables all across the city during this season Approximate cost Rs 800 a kilo. NankhatiesNankhaties Happily appropriated as a Christmas sweet, this totally Indian biscuit of the purest white colour is a crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth crowd pleaser that is more-ish to a fault. Originally a round button-like cookie, nankaties that are also called ‘snowballs’ can also be seen cut in shapes like stars and hearts. Approximate cost Rs 600 a kilo. Date RollsDate Rolls Take a plump date. Stuff it with a quarter of a walnut. Enrobe it in soft milk-flour dough and bake the little finger–sized cookie to a shimmering golden hue. Voila! You have a simple and yum date roll ready. Approximate cost Rs 600 a kilo. Coconut Ice and Cocoa Rocks While the former is a luridly pink coconut barfi-like sweet, the latter is a blob of freshly grated coconut coated in melted chocolate which you can call the original Bounty bar! Approximate cost for both Rs 600 a kilo. Where to get the above goodies: Ann Dias at Dadar (west). Call, 9869173268 for all kinds of delectable goodies that take the form of sweets and cakes. Betty Bayross at Santacruz. Call, 9870047712 for varieties of moist, yummy cakes. Vienna Bakery at Santacruz (east). Call, 022 26672811 for cakes, cookies and sweets. Hearsch Bakery at Bandra (west). Call, 022 26435361 for sweets and savouries. Gary's at Mazgaon. Call, 022 23741447, 9819751551 for cakes and divine rum balls. Venus Cake Shop at Malad (west). Call, 022 28805710 for cakes and other confectionery. A1 Bakery Bandra (west). Call, 022 26426211 for cakes and sweet buns. Pics Courtesy Raul Dias and www.imly.in

Raul Dias

Raul Dias
Lists travel, food and luxury as the tantalizing trifecta that defines him. When he’s not travelling, eating or getting pampered at a spa, you'll find him assaulting his notebook's keyboard with a feral vengeance, churning out what he hopes are intelligent, informative and entertaining stories.