Christmas with a Suriyani twist

Published Dec 15, 2013, 11:41 pm IST
Updated Feb 23, 2016, 2:43 pm IST
Traditional Syrian Christian dishes, predominant in Kerala’s centralTravancore region.

Christmas is a time of joy and jubilation and in Kerala, it is a time when Christians have a blast, especially at the dining table. They prepare a wonderful array of delicacies to mark the festival. The central Travancore regi­on of the state is famous for the traditional Syrian Christian dishes also known as Suriyani food. Duck and karimeen (black pearlspot) are essential to the feast that is dominated by non-vegetarian dishes. But you do have a good variety of vegetarian dishes, snacks and sweets as well.

Some of the most popular dishes include Kuttanadan duck roast, spicy plum pudding, appam and ishtoo, karimeen pollichathu, cutlets, sweets like churuttappam, paani and vathalappa, all washed down with home-made wine. Breakfast and lunch on Christ­mas are understandably elaborate, coming as they do after 25 days of Holy Lent.



Spicy Christmas pudding


  • Fresh bread crumbs 100 gm
  • Flour 125 gm
  • Margarine 250 gm
  • Sugar 230 gm
  • Carrot 50 gm
  • Apple 1
  • Baking powder 5 gm
  • Cinnamon powder 1/4 tsp
  • Cardamom powder 1/4 tsp
  • Clove powder 1/4 tsp
  • Black pepper powder 1/4 tsp
  • Vanilla essence 5 ml
  • Candied peels, currants,
  • raisins 650 gm
  • Wine 45 ml


  • Mix the dry fruits, spices and wine and keep aside.
  • Make the caramel syrup by melting 30 gm sugar till it becomes dark brown, add a little water, dilute and keep aside.
  • Cream the margarine and sugar. Add beaten eggs and essence. Combine the flour with baking powder along with bread crumbs.
  • Mix in the soaked fruits, spices and grated carrots and apples.
  • Add the caramel syrup, mix it well.
  • Pour the mixture in a buttered mould, cover it with silver foil and steam for 3-4 hours. Serve warm.


Vazhappoo (banana flower)?cutlets


  • Banana flower  2 cups (chopped)
  • Boiled mashed potato 1 cup
  • Chopped chilli 1 tsp
  • Chopped ginger 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves 1 sprig
  • Onion, chopped ½ cup
  • Chilli powder 1 tsp
  • Garam masala powder 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
  • Black pepper  1/2 tsp powder
  • Chopped coriander leaves 2 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Coconut oil 1 cup
  • Eggs 2
  • Bread crumbs 1 cup


  • Heat a little coconut oil, add curry leaves, chopped onion, chilli and ginger and sauté well.
  • Add all the spices with little water.
  • Wash the banana flower and cook it in the pan with enough water, remove and allow it to cool.
  • Mix well with mashed potato, chopped coriander and salt and give the desired shape.
  • Dip in the beaten egg and roll in bread crumbs. Deep fry in hot oil. Serve with coconut chutney.


Appam with ‘ishtoo’


For Appam

  • Uncooked rice 300 gm
  • Tender coconut water 1/2 cup
  • Thick coconut milk 200 ml
  • Yeast 1 tsp
  • Sugar 30 gm
  • Salt To taste
  • Coarse ground rice flour 1/4 cup
  • Water 1 cup

For Mutton Ishtoo (stew)

  • Mutton 500 gm
  • Potato (cubed) 100 gm
  • Sliced onion 100 gm
  • Thin coconut milk 200 ml
  • Thick coconut milk 100 ml
  • Ginger juliennes 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves 1 sprig
  • Cardamom powder a pinch
  • Green chilli, slitted 3-4
  • White pepper powder 1/2 tsp
  • Coconut oil 10 ml
  • Cardamom, cloves, Cinnamon, star anise 3 gm
  • Lemon juice 5 ml
  • Salt To taste

For appam

  • Soak the rice in water for two hours, grind it with coconut water and coconut milk.
  • Soak the yeast in a little warm water with sugar and keep it for 15 minutes. Add it to the batter.
  • In a separate pan, mix the coarsely-ground rice flour and water, cook it on a slow flame until you get a sticky cooked paste, cool it, add it to the batter with salt and mix well in a pouring consistency. Keep it overnight.
  • Heat a pan, pour one ladle of the appam mix and swirl the pan so that it spreads evenly, cover and cook for two-three minutes till the edges become golden brown and get cooked well. Serve with mutton ishtoo.

For stew:

  • Heat oil, add curry leaves, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and star anise, add sliced onion and ginger and sauté without changing colour. Add green chilli.
  • Wash and mix the mutton with lemon juice and salt.
  • Add the mutton and potatoes to the sautéed onion and fry well. Add the thin coconut milk and simmer for a while till the mutton is cooked and tender. Add cardamom powder and pepper powder. Add the thick coconut milk and check the salt. Heat it but do not boil, remove from fire and serve with appam.