You dont really have to look at the calendar to know that its that time of the year again when festivities pick up pace. With Diwali just gone by and Christmas still a month away,the gap is being filled up with a new occasion the Christmas cake mix ceremony. Packaged like an event in itself,hotels around town are already sending out invites for everyone to soak in the spirit,quite literally.
Hometel Chandigarh was the first one in town to introduce fruit mixing ceremony for cakes and puddings recently. The hotel played host to guests a few days ago,including special invitees for the day a group of Sisters from the Chandigarh chapter of Missionaries of Charity. Carrying forward the tradition of preparing a sumptuous mix of dry fruits and liquor,the guests as well as the staff slipped on gloves and aprons to toss-up the once-a-year recipe. Massive steel basins filled with fruit raisins,black currants,candied peel,candied cherries and tutti frutti were spread out,ready to be tossed up in wine,rum and whiskey. This ceremony is really special as its all about following tradition and bonhomie. It is considered to herald the start of good times and happiness, remarked the hotels general manager,Sabyasachi Chatterjee,as he encouraged everyone to give the mix a good stir.
According to a long standing Christmas tradition,ingredients for the Christmas cake and pudding are soaked in various spirits and liquor to impart flavour and left to mature upto Christmas. These are then used by the in-house bakeries to make cakes and puddings. The mix is a hearty one. We use black currant,raisins,red cherries,apricots,almonds,figs and dates,bottles of brandy,whiskey,beer and rum that are a must for the traditional marinade, informed Taj Chandigarhs general manager,Anil Malhotra,while he sprinkled spices over the delicious mix and doused it with liberal gushes of the liquor. Its a Christmas tradition where families take turns in stirring the mixture for good luck, mentioned a member of the staff as he helped advisor to the Chandigarh Administrator,K K Sharma and his wife give the mix a stir.
With two more hotels gearing up to invite guests for their annual mix,there are many residents too,who are getting ready with preparations. Among them is Harjyot Phoolka,a city-based chef,well-known for her continental catering. Preparation for my Christmas fare and cake starts early in the year, says Phoolka,who has always had jars with liquor-laced fruits and nuts stocked,so that she can use them liberally later.
Also holding a cake-mixing event at her home in Sector 36 is banker Neena Kumar. We have a lot many friends who celebrate Christmas and this year I decided to pitch in as well, says Kumar,who has arranged for a melting pot for the occasion. The whole process is considered to usher in good tidings and happiness. For me,its all about the camaraderie, says Kumar. The mix at most places will be kept aside for over a month and will be used to make the Christmas cakes in December. The wait is delicious.