Celebrating Cultures, Promoting Integration
Ahh., the winter season is finally here, the season of hot chocolate and cosy nights spent under the sheets. But, the season needn’t be limited to just that for comfort! The winters also usher in the season of holidays with them, bringing in the festive joy all around the globe. At the centre of all the festivities and giggle are dishes that are the soul of the holiday season. So here are 10-holiday dishes that all immigrants miss from back home.
1. Peru – Spiced Hot Chocolate
Spiced hot chocolate is a Christmas tradition in Peru. Churches throughout the country take donations to make large quantities of it, and also accept donations on panettone, an Italian holiday bread. The bread and hot chocolate are served to those less fortunate in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
2. China- Jiaozi
Typically eaten on New Year’s Eve, This northern Chinese dish called “Jiaozi”, is derived from a word meaning “bidding farewell to the old and welcoming the new”. These dumplings consist of a vegetable or minced meat filling which is then warped in thin sheets of dough.
The dumplings are then steamed, pan-fried or boiled and served with a vinegar and sesame dip. Always made before midnight and eaten during the final hour of the new year’s night, some of the dumplings are secretly wrapped with yuan or ten cents coins, as a token of good fortune for the ones who eat them.
3. Ethiopia -Yebet Wot
Yebeg Wot is a traditional holiday dish served during the holiday season, the popular lamb stew cooked with onions, garlic, tomatoes, berbere spice mix, spices and, most importantly, kibbeh (Ethiopian Butter)
Traditionally served with injera, an Ethiopian flatbread, this lamb stew takes weeks of preparation as lambs headers feed their cattle carb-rich food in order to make the lamb fattier and ultimately more succulent.
4. Philippines – Bibingka
A common breakfast dish during the holiday season, Bibingka is not only à culinary delicacy but also an expression of the Philippines native spirituality, traditionally offered to deities to their pre-Christian festivals. Now the dish is traditionally served after Simbáng Gabi — a nine-day series of Filipino Catholic masses leading up to Christmas.
Made from rice flour, coconut milk, sugar and water, then wrapped and cooked in banana leaves. Garnishes like eggs, cheese and desiccated coconut are toppings of choice.
5. Puerto Rico – Pasteles
Pasteles are a classic Christmas dish in Puerto Rico, a traditional dish in several Latin American and Caribbean countries during the holidays. The dish resembles a tamale or a calzone depending upon the country you are in. Making pasteles is a cumbersome creation, the inner portion of the dish consists of a mix of ground pork and spice sauce, with the outer portion made of masa dough made of plantains, yauitía and spices.
Like tamales the mixture, once cooled, is placed in banana leaves, traditional Puertorican pasteles are boiled rather than steamed and served with hot sauce, rice and meats.
6. America- Pumpkin Pie
Arguably one of the most classic holiday dishes, pumpkin pie is as American as one can get, Thought to have been first made by the American settlers at Plymouth, the famous pumpkin pie was a part of the first cookbook ever written and published in America. The humble pumpkin pie is a dessert pie with a spiced, pumpkin-based custard filling that is baked in a pie crust. No American holiday dinner is complete without the pumpkin pie.
7. Israel – Latkes
These crispy- golden fried potato cakes are a traditional dish served during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, latkes are generally consumed on Hanukkah to commemorate the miracle of the oil lasting eight days in the story of the event Hanukkah commemorates,
Latkes are sometimes served with sweet toppings like sufganiyot or apple sauce and are made with ground potato, matzo meal or flour and a binding ingredient such as egg or applesauce, often flavoured with grated garlic or onion and seasoning.
8. Brazil – Farofa
The ever-popular farofa. This toasted cassava flour mixture is the pinnacle of all holiday meals. Most recipes will also contain varying amounts of smoked meat, spices and veggies. Most farofa has a smokey and salty taste and is served to accentuate the taste of the meats like turkey and beans during the holidays, the dish Is also used as stuffing.
The dish is made by toasting cassava flour with butter, or olive oil, onions, garlic, sausage, olives, bacon and hard-boiled eggs, until golden brown.
9. India – Gajar ka Halwa
Winter holidays in India equals Gajar Ka Halwa. Also known as gajorer halua, gajrela, gajar pak, and carrot halwa is a carrot-based sweet dessert pudding from the Indian subcontinent. This Indian dessert is a winter staple, any holidays and festivals are incomplete with gajar ka halwa which is a rather simple 3 ingredient recipe.
Made with grated carrots cooked with milk and sugar while stirring regularly. It is often served with a garnish of almonds, raisins and pistachios. The nuts and other items used are first sautéed in ghee, a type of clarified butter. Try adding the easy to make a dessert to your holiday cook list
10. Mexico- Tamales
Appearing around 1550s the Aztecs served the tamales, made with corn masa and stuffed with beef, pork, chicken and rajas tamales can even include sweet variations like fruit, cinnamon etc. They are then wrapped in a corn husk and steamed.
Traditionally, the women of the family gather together days in advance to make tamales for the festivities. Recipes are passed down through generations, with each family having their own ways of preparation and secret recipes.
Winter welcomes festivals all around the world, whether it be Dussehra, Hanukkah or New Year’s. Food is the soul of all our festivities, it tends to play a central role in all our celebrations, binding us together. With the holidays around the corner, there is always that one dish we all miss from back home, the one that takes you back, the one that reminds you of home no matter where you are