Antar da (my brother-in-law) has been the second Santa of sorts for me (to know about who my first Santa is/was, you have to wait till the last post of the series). Having spent over a decade studying and working in the States, Antar da is pretty conversant with traditional Christmas practices — so much so that he gets more excited by it than by Durga Pujo. He also has the habit of throwing lavish Christmas parties where he cooks every single dish from scratch — from the celebratory Roast to tiered cakes to tiny gingerbread men. Antar Da’s Christmas parties are to die for. In my years in Delhi, I ensured that I was there well ahead of time, well wrapped in my red “Santa” jacket to beat the winter chill. The first thing I’d do is enter the kitchen, cast a glance of all that was prepared or in the process of getting prepared and secretly fill up with greedy joy of a culinarily anticipatory evening.
The last Christmas party that I attended at their place was back in 2012. T had accompanied me and a few of Didi’s friends had come down as well. For days before the D-day, my then almost 2 year old nephew Boom had painstakingly decorated the Christmas Tree. We had got gifts for the Secret Santa game which were littered at the base of the sparkling tree. The lights were dim and only flickers of red, green and gold lit up the house in warm festivity. The Christmas carols playing in the background added to the fuzzy feeling. The kitchen smelled of freshly baked goodies and the table was laden with the grand Christmas paraphernalia. We stuffed ourselves to glory, played a few intense rounds of Citadel and as the day came to an end, I started counting days for the next Christmas gathering.
The next year, however, bore no such fruit as Antar da had been away teaching in the University of Berkeley and Didi and Boom joined him right at the time of Christmas. They spent Christmas in Times Square, New York, whereas I slogged in office. 🙁 This year the story is a bit different. Antar Da had been in Calcutta for a while now (he is leaving tomorrow and that too right at the time of Christmas), so I thought of putting up a small-scale pre-Christmas party before he left. Now making a roast for a culinary genius like him is quite scary as he’s been there done that so many times, and I had never roasted anything in my life before! I rummaged through my recipe folders in frantic search of easy roast recipes and finally bumped into this one, and bang, wasn’t it a super success?! Antar da loved it and so did everybody else. The sweet glaze of the mango coupled with the sharpness of the spices takes this simple roast chicken to a whole new level. I even shredded the spare roast chicken and made a fajita-like wrap with them the next day.
I made a Swedish Apple Cinnamon Cake as a fitting finish to the meal but to give your dessert more colour and vibrancy hop on to Manjari’s blog For the Love of Food and check out her luscious Strawberry Tart, all decked up in its red glory.
Recipe adapted from Rachel Khoo
Chicken, legs and thighs: 3 kg (10 pieces)
Mango-saffron chutney/jam: 300 gm (you can use mango chutney/jam and add a few
strands of saffron)
Olive/vegetable oil: 3-4 tbsp
Garam masala: 1.5 tsp
Cumin powder: 2 tsp
Cinnamon powder: 1 tsp
Ginger powder: 1.5 tsp
Salt, to taste
1. Mix together all the ingredients for marination and rub the chicken pieces well with the mixture. Refrigerate for 4 hours of overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the chicken with half of the marinade in a baking dish (2-3 at a time) and roast for 40 minutes, 20 minutes in each side or until the juices run clear. When you’re turning the pieces baste the chicken some more with the remaining marinade.
3. Serve with mixed vegetables and bread.
Kickstarting Christmas: Day 7