Published on: December 24, 2011 – 02:17

By Mini Ribeiro
Christmas lunch promises to be an elaborate affair with a delicious spread. And wines almost always are an intrinsic part of such an occasion. So the right wines must complement the meal if you want to do justice to both.

Red and white, you may have a mix of both, but remember to team it with the correct meats or seafood. Only then the palate is ready to be delighted even more
Surely most of us are set to enjoy your Christmas lunch with some great wines today. I too have selected my wines already. What is an elaborate Christmas family lunch without the right kind of wines to go along? Food and wine get along famously as they complement and contrast each other. We Goans love our Port wines and I am no exception, but trust me, try some other wines this afternoon and your Christmas will be memorable.
Since roast turkey is must on every Christmas lunch menu, try a Bordeaux red. It goes well with turkey, which is a delicate meat. This red, maybe powerful but does not overshadow the flavour of Turkey. Even Pinot Noir is a good choice. Many feel a light red such as Zinfandel too would work well with Turkey. But I think this dark and intense, fruity Zinfandel is best enjoyed with mince pies. Some relish this with dark chocolate too. To each his own I guess.
If you are eating roast beef, lamb or duck, include the powerful Cabernet Sauvignon, as it brings out the taste of these. Delicately flavoured wines like Italian whites and Muscadet, pair well with shellfish and seafood. A useful tip, as most Goans may want to eat seafood today apart from sorpotel of course. Gobelsburger Riesling Urgestein, with its mineral, floral, fruity aromas, coupled with intense acidity on the palate, will complement the sweet preparations, such as the braised apple, that accompany pork chops. If you’re into continental fare, opt for a Gobelsburger Zweigelt. This wine should be sipped with a Cannelloni of Trio mushroom with saffron sauce and asparagus nibs, tomato confit. The elegance of this wine with its dense flavour of cherries and spices combines perfectly with the mushroom cannelloni and Zweigelt being lighter, the tomato confit’s sweetness will get enhanced, offering a contrast to the palate.
Moët and Chandon Rosé Impérial, with the rich, harmonious diversity of three grape varietals, is distinguished by its radiant colour and flamboyant flavour. If an Indian meal is what you are planning to enjoy today, then make sure you have this. Tandoori cuisine using red meat or meaty fish can nicely pair with this wine. Also Braised Lamb Leg, Goan Pork and Liver, Kerala lamb curry, lamb kebabs, Hyderabadi mutton biryani/nizami pulao and spicy meatballs can be relished with this.
Finish your meal with a Chenin Blanc or a Schloss Gobelsburg Eiswein as you bite into the sinful Christmas pudding. There couldn’t be a better way to celebrate Christmas. And if you’re not celebrating Christmas at home but going to a hotel for lunch. Well then too, the choices are many.
All it takes is a little initiation or knowledge to enter the seemingly complex world of wines. It’s almost like getting into any other acquired taste, like music. So take the plunge today on Christmas with your new-found interest and you will soon be a connoisseur yourself.
(Writer is a food Columnist)

TEAM HERALD teamherald@ herald- goa. com

PANJIM: Traveling to Goa for year end- New Year revelries is sure to blow a hole in the pockets of merrymakers seeking to welcome 2012 in Goa.

Air and bus fares have skyrocketed to ridiculous sums. For instance, Mumbai- Goa and Pune- Goa bus fare has shot up by almost four times, and same is the case with airfare as everybody wants to get their share of fun and frolic in Goa this year end.

While Volvo bus fare for Mumbai — Goa route at normal times is between Rs 500 and Rs 600, however on Monday it went up to Rs 2000. One way ticket from Pune- Goa has gone up to Rs 2300, travel fares are expected to be at the zenith during the week or so.

A travel agent informed that rates have gone up also because of the mega Sunburn music festival which is slated to commence Tuesday.

Escalation in air fare on all routes leading to Goa, has been quite extraordinary.

On Monday, a one way ticket from Mumbai- Goa had crossed Rs 10000 mark.

A steep rise in fare during festive season has been witnessed during last few years. But during the last two years fares have gone up ridiculously.

When contacted Swapnil Naik, Director of Tourism, said according to his information, at least, until last week rise in travel fare was less than that of last year.

When asked, if this level of escalation in travel fares, hurt tourist interest of Goa in the long run, he said that now there is flow of tourists until second week of New year, when travel rates drops to normal.

“ Tourists have been adjusting their arrival,” Naik added.

When contacted Arun Dessai, Director of Transport said they have absolutely no control on hikes, effected in bus fares during peak season. “ It is a contract between the customer and the bus owner/ agent and we can’t do any thing even when rise effected in bus fare is four- five times more.” However, he pointed out that this is not applicable to government undertakings and they are allowed to charge seasonal and non seasonal rates. So while private bus owners mint money during peak season , KTC and MSRTC can’t take such liberty, and charge more than what is permitted.

Air and bus fares have skyrocketed to ridiculous sums. For instance, Mumbai- Goa and Pune- Goa bus fare has shot up by almost four times, and same is the case with airfare as everybody wants to get their share of fun and frolic in Goa this year end.

draining the pocket

Christmas the Goan way
Published on: December 24, 2011 – 02:15

By Maria Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues
In Goa, the Catholic community celebrates the birth of Christ with great pomp. Christianity was brought to this tiny hamlet by the Portuguese, who converted the native Hindus and Muslims of Goa.

However, they were not successful in converting the entire population, even after having offered incentives -monetary and otherwise – and having ruled over Goa for 450 years. Consequently, Goa never had more than 40 per cent of Catholic population during the long span of four and half century of Portuguese domination. But, they have left indelible influence in our socio-religious and cultural life, and Christmas celebration is one of them, though with a very Goan touch.
Christmas was a time for the family to get together and celebrate. Old and young would all join in the celebration. Preparations for X’mas would start well in advance. The young lasses would look out for the latest arrivals and the tailors would be kept be kept busy making the dresses as per the fashion in vogue. The youngsters were occupied with making decorative items for X’mas tree, the star and the crib. The house would wear a festive look, with the star lit and the lights put in the verandah of the house and around the crib.
The women were kept busy preparing an assortment of goodies. This array of sweetmeats and other items prepared for Christmas is in Portuguese called consuada and in Konkani cunsoar. However, it is interesting to note that the Portuguese use the word in different connotation. Consuada for them is the supper the family has on the eve of Christmas, at midnight mass or after the midnight mass. The Christmas supper is very significant because all the family members join in this meal, and those who do not live in the same house village or city, come home on this occasion. This traditional supper is called the ceia de natal consists of bacalhau cozido com batatas, overtemperados com alhos, azeite e vinagre acompanhado de couve cozida. (Boiled dry cold fish with potatoes and eggs, to which garlic, olive oil and vinegar is added to taste, along with boiled kale)
Although many food habits have directly influenced the Goans, and those in contact with the Portuguese have a penchant for bacalhau. This traditional supper did not come to Goa, and if at all it came, it did not stay.
Very few Goans families observe this tradition of Christmas supper, and the main meal is Christmas lunch when all the family members join to celebrate the birth of Christ the King.
For Goans consuada would invariably include the neureos and voddes, a must in every house (Unless mourning the death of a close relative, who departed not more than a year ago) along with mandares, dodol, cormolans, teias de aranha, pinaca, doce de grao. Babinca, rebucados de caremal, fruit cake were additional items for the more sophisticated, which also include doces cristiali zados and marzipans.
Preparing the consuada was a ritual to the house wife, and some of them were prepared well in advance. Many family members also joined in the preparation. As a child my favourite pick was the rebucados de caramel, which was toffee of hardened sugar caramel, wrapped in colourful papers. Sometime the paper would stick to the toffee and it was troublesome to remove it. Frutas cristalizadas are crystallized fruits.
The consuada prepared, the crib and the star lit, the family is now ready for the Christmas mass. The Missa de Galo ie the midnight mass is the main event of celebrations. The mass starts a little before midnight, so that at midnight the priest can intone the Gloria in Excelsis Deo. At this moment the church bell rings joyously to announce the birth of Christ the king. Burning of crackers accompany the bells to make the moment more festive. After the mass, relatives and friends wished one another Boas Festas.
The main meal on Christmas Day usually consisted of chicken, pork sorpatel or cabidel, voddes and arroz refogado. Sannas could also be added, though not usually a practice on this day. The more sophisticated families had a more elaborate menu, which include the turkey.
Friends and relatives visit one another during the festive seasons, which end with the feast of Three Kings, on January 6. In Daman there is a tradition of visiting in group, in the evening during the festive season, the Catholic houses, in adoration of the infant Jesus. (The same way we take “Our Lady” from house to house in Goa). These visits are called louvores (to praise the Lord) and prayers are recited. After the prayers vale nascido (beans) are served to those present.
Another tradition was that during the X’mas season the kumbhars (potters) would exchange their ware for voddes. Money was sent in the past, and the living standards were low for most of the people and therefore the barter system existed in Goa. I was told that children could buy with the kumbhars the earthern toys, like budkules, mitheiro for as much as 3 to 4 voddes.
Life has changed today and traditions occupy the back seat, in a society where everybody seems to be busy, and rushing to reach their destination. Let us hope people will make some time and observe the Christmas festival in a traditional Goan way.

PANAJI: The connoisseurs of alcohol who shun Fenny from their menu for its strong odour may soon have a reason to raise a toast as researchers are not only burning the midnight oil to produce the quintessential Goan brew sans smell but also to grant it an exotic status.

Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), a Union government initiative, has been working closely with the Fenny producers here to prepare a new odourless concoction which could find more social acceptability than its present avatar.

Fenny, which is usually brewed from cashew or coconut, has already attained Geographical Indication (GI) status following a protracted struggle by its ardent supporters.

The high grade fenny has 42 per cent alcohol content.

ICAR Director Narendra Pratap Singh said the scientists have been working methods to make this drink more socially acceptable, without tempering with its originality.

“We are not touching its flavour. We want to make it more acceptable,” he said.

Senior ICAR scientists S B Barbuddhe and A R Desai are studying the entire process of manufacturing the brew, which has given them required clues to remove strong smell from this country-made liquor.

While Fenny sans odour may not augur well for die-hard freaks, the experts feel that this scientific innovation will certainly help the drink get more acceptance amongst tourists.

ICAR team has discerned that Fenny types depend upon the technique employed for distillation and natural flora which causes its fermentation.

The research has also suggested that the method of extracting juice from Cashew Apple is unhygienic, which needs to be standardised.

“Use of tin or iron containers for storing the juice during fermentation process causes blackening of the juice which may affect the flavor of the finished product,” a senior scientist said.

Mechanisation of juice extract has also been proposed as one of the ways to do away with the strong odour.

As per state estimates, there are nearly 2000 Fenny-makers involved in this seasonal business across the state.

The Perfect Christmas Turkey
Published on: December 22, 2011 – 02:27

By Mini Ribeiro
What is a Christmas without the traditional roast turkey with all its trimmings? Goans look forward to their Turkey on Christmas and many order it in advance. Cooking the perfect Christmas turkey is a precise and time-consuming operation.

But before that, selecting the right one and brining it before roasting it to enhance the flavour and leaving it moist is equally important. Enjoy it with cranberry compote and wine
Roasted turkey on Christmas is a British tradition; but many in India also follow it. I am not a great one for turkey, but ventured into trying one last Christmas in Goa at a friend’s place. She had a marvellous recipe. Not too many breadcrumbs, but lots of tasty ingredients from sausage meat to streaky bacon, orange, apple, lemon, onion, garlic, celery, apple juice, chicken seasoning and a few chopped chestnuts. She had painstakingly stuffed both ends. It was delicious. And I succumbed.
Turkey is popular in Goa as part of an elaborate Christmas meal and definitely has a strong seasonal association. It is not commonly seen on hotel menus throughout the year and is overshadowed by other meats, but is a must-have on Christmas. “Apart from local guests, we have a lot of guests coming from England, Germany and France for whom Christmas is never complete without a turkey,” reveals Shimmjit Bhaskaran, Sous Chef, The Zuri Whitesands, Goa. Other than Five Star hotels, many local caterers and housewives take orders in advance to supply Roast Turkey on Christmas.
Selecting the right turkey is critical. “A fresh healthy turkey weighing around 8-11kgs should be selected. One should always check and get a turkey usually under 12-15 months as an over 12-month turkey is very difficult to roast,” explains Chef Bhaskaran.
Sangeet Kundancherry, Sous Chef, The Park, Candolim Beach, says, “Few things that are quintessential for enjoying a roast turkey for Christmas dinner include: brine – it is the pickling liquor that is used to keep the turkey soft and tender after it is roasted, marinade – is the mixture of ingredients for giving the final taste and texture to the turkey after it is roasted, Stuffing – the mixture of ingredients that is stuffed inside the turkey, accompaniments – the side dishes that are served along with turkey.”
Putting the bird in brine for 4 to 8 hours is indeed helpful. You’ll be surprised how good and moist it turns out.
Chef Bhaskaran agrees, “It is best cooked when it is first braised in stock water with mirepoix (sautéed chopped vegetables to add flavour to sauces), along with marination of salt, pepper and fresh rosemary herb for 10 minutes and then again marinated with mirepoix, olive oil, orange juice, rosemary, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, white wine and brandy and kept to rest for the whole night and on Christmas eve, it is roasted in the oven for at least one hour or till it is 90 per cent done. Finally, it is put for barbeque grilling where it is fully done and the same is carved and served.”
So enjoy your Christmas lunch with a Roast turkey. Don’t forget to pair it with cranberry sauce, or roast potatoes or maple glazed baby carrots. A glass of Pinot Noir if you enjoy red wine or the white wine, Pinot Gris to go with it, will enhance the gourmet experience. Bon appetit!
(Mini Ribeiro is Food Writer & Columnist)
Classic Roast Turkey recipe
by Sangeet Kundancherry,
Sous Chef, The Park on Candolim
A 6.5 kilogram turkey, which is kept for 24 hrs in brine; 175 grams (g) of butter (this will need to be adjusted if you have a different sized turkey); 3.5 litres (ltr) of stuffing (this will need to be adjusted if you have a different sized turkey); 4 cups of water or turkey stock; salt, ground pepper, 5 chopped carrots, 500g of frozen, mixed vegetables, 500g of chopped mushrooms, 3 large, chopped onions, 3 large, chopped bell peppers
Method: Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 220°C. Remove the giblets from the middle of the turkey. Add the bread stuffing. You should put two thirds in the neck end between the neck and skin and then tuck the neck flap against the back of the bird, securing it with a skewer. Then, flip the turkey over and tuck in the wings. Then put the remaining third of stuffing in the body cavity. When stuffing the turkey, ensure you do not pack it in too tightly. Once the turkey is fully stuffed, you will need to tie the legs together using some heavy duty kitchen twine. Put the marination on the turkey before it is roasted. Place the turkey in a roasting tin.
Place any remaining stuffing in an oven proof bowl and cover this with foil. Spread 175g of softened butter over the turkey’s skin. Add the carrot, mushroom, onion and pepper to the roasting tin. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the buttered turkey and vegetables. Pour two cups of water or turkey stock into the roasting tin. Place the turkey in the pre-heated oven for 40 minutes. Remove the turkey and baste it with the juices at the bottom of the roasting tin. Reduce the oven temperature to170°C and place the turkey back in the oven to cook for a further 3½ hours.
Every 30 minutes remove the turkey from the oven and baste it with the juices at the bottom of the roasting tin. Increase the temperature of the oven to 200°C and cook the turkey and stuffing for a further 30 minutes. Remove the turkey and pierce the thigh to see if the juices run clear. Keep testing for readiness every 10 minutes. Once the juices do run clear, insert your meat thermometer into the turkey along the breast bone and check that the temperature is between 71°Cand 74°C. Then insert your meat thermometer into the turkey leg and check that the temperature is 180°F (82°C). Once the turkey is ready cover it and the vegetables in foil and leave them to stand for 45 minutes.
Place the bowl of remaining stuffing into the oven and cook for 20 minutes at gas mark 4, 180°C and then 20 minutes at 200°C. Then remove the stuffing and check that the top is golden brown. If not put the bowl of stuffing back in the oven and keep testing for readiness every 5 minutes. Once ready take the stuffing out of the oven, remove the foil and add the stuffing from inside the turkey to the bowl. Carve the turkey and serve with a portion of vegetables from the roasting tin, some gravy and some stuffing.
Turkey marinade
3 tablespoons of garlic paste, 2 teaspoons of black pepper, 2 teaspoons of salt, Worcestershire sauce 30 ml, Juice of one large lime, 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder, ½ teaspoon of clove and cardamom powder, 2 teaspoon of dry rosemary, 4 to5 tablespoons of honey for glazing
Clean a turkey that weighs about four kilos, but make sure the skin doesn’t split. Remove the neck right down to the wishbone. Put all ingredients in a marinating pan (except the honey). Rub the marinade inside the cavity, over the skin and over the turkey’s breast and thighs. Then stuff the turkey. Tie the bottom cavity and legs together with a cotton thread. Leave it for eight hours but turn it over after every hour. Set oven to 200 degrees, put a sheet of foil on the baking pan and oil it. Place the turkey on its back, drizzle with oil and put in the oven to bake for 3.5 hours. Drizzle with its own juice every 20 minutes. After 1.5 hours, cover the leg and breast with foil. After 3.5 hours remove turkey and glaze it with honey.
Port gravy
Heat one tablespoon of oil in a saucepan. Stir in two tablespoons of flour over low heat until it’s well browned. Remove from the fire and gradually stir in 100ml of the reserve vegetable stock (from the stuffing) and juices from the pan. Add 120 ml of port and two tablespoons of sugar. Stir over low heat until it boils and thickens.
Chef’s tip: While purchasing the turkey ask for a male turkey instead of female as the former tends to be tenderer and hence easier to cook than female turkey.