What Christmas/winter holiday(s) means to you depends on where you come from. I am a Calcuttan, therefore, to me the winter holidays mean local club picnics (with their typical hard boiled eggs, bananas and bread in brown-paper-bags-breakfast), crowding outside of Nahoum’s or Flurys to buy fruitakes, the ritualistic stroll around New Market area, pushing through the madding Park Street crowd to see the holiday lights, the subsequent wait outside of the historic Park Street restaurants (Oly Pub for me) with friends, the annual visit to the St. Paul’s Cathedral, the smell of orange peels, fried fish and cotton candies at the winter fairs, and boat rides on the Hoogly.
And then there is our Tenants’ grand Christmas dinner, which is my favorite not because of the lamb stew, or dal meat, or smoked haddock khichdi, or meat samosas, or slow cooked country chicken, or rose cookies, or the Indian version of the Portugese Filhoses Enroladas, or kulkuls, or their famous bread pudding. But because this dinner spread was what had inspired me at a very early age to not just eat food, but to appreciate its histories and traditions. Because this dinner spread is a perfect reminder of the multifariousness of Indian cuisine–Portuguese, French, Spanish, Persian, and English influences in one meal.
As a child I was never allowed this bread pudding because it had a rich rum sauce. But I always sneaked into the kitchen when no one was looking and tasted it anyway. Years later when I was officially served the bread pudding my father was surprised at my under-reaction. Conscious of how I almost gave my self away I had said “I taste alcohol, it is bitter”. But my dad was no fool. We all had laughed.
Bread Pudding with bourbon sauce recipe
Level: easy Preparation time: 5 mins Cooking time: 1 hr Serves: 6
2 cups milk
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 loaf stale white bread, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup slivered almonds (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease a 9″ loaf pan or baking tray with butter.
Whisk the milk, butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract in a bowl.
Add bread and let soak for 30 minutes.
Transfer to the prepared tray and bake for 45-60 mins, or until the top is slightly browned.
Bourbon sauce recipe
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup bourbon/dark rum (or more if you like)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
a pinch of salt
Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat.
Whisk in remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat until thickened, whisking continually, about 3 minutes.
To serve drizzle warm sauce over warm bread pudding.