The Gymkhana Club in Delhi is a relic of the Raj. Here, they still like to adhere to old British traditions and Christmas Eve is celebrated with a meal ending with the traditional Christmas pudding. It is all quite rich, but then the diners move on after the meal to the most famous ballroom in all of Asia to dance their indulgences away, just as they did back in the time of the Raj. All the same, Indians always like to put a few touches to their renditions of British food.
Cranberry sauce is, of course, not really meant to be a sauce, but more of a jam. There are, in my view, two great aspects to cranberries: firstly, when ripe, their ruby red colour is so vibrant and Christmassy that just looking at them makes you happy; secondly, they are so very tart that they need no added pectin when made into a jam. This recipe throws in a bit of zing by adding ginger, spices and chilli flakes.
Here in the northern hemisphere, when the nights grow long and the irresistible smokiness of roasted chestnuts reappears on street corners, we know that winter is around the corner. That smell always takes me back to an elderly Gypsy lady I used to know. She spent her days in Madrid’s beautiful Retiro Park back in the 1970’s. In summer, she sold flowers and told fortunes. In the razor sharp cold of the Castilian winter, she spent her evenings bundled up and on her feet, making her living through roasted chestnuts that she sold to passers by.
Walking down the Champs-Elysées in Paris the other evening, that unmistakable winter scent of mulled wine came wafting my way. In the cold, night air, and even more than the bright lights that lit up the sky or the stalls selling gifts and trinkets, it came as a confirmation that Christmas is around the corner… Well, okay, a few weeks away, but still close enough to gather the spices for mulled wine.