Christmas Weekend

It was an unusual Christmas for us this year.  We were loaded up and ready to head east to spend time with family when illness hit.  Since this is a food blog, I’ll spare all the details.  So we returned home and unpacked everything that we had spent about 24 hours to pack.  Between sickness and two snow storms, we figured it was a sign that we should stay put for Christmas.  So, I was scrambling to come up with a Plan B.  I hate scrambling.  How do I entertain two kids under the age of four for the next two and a half weeks and what do I plan for our Christmas meal for just the four of us?

I was done with turkey after having it twice after Thanksgiving and I’m not a fan of ham. You know, all the nitrates.  My mom suggested I make an Indian dinner consisting of chicken biriyani (think an Indian meat and rice casserole), baingan bharta (roasted eggplant yumminess), raita, and papads.  Sometimes you just have to do what your mom says.  My mom makes a big Indian spread every year for Christmas Eve and we really missed it.  This meal was much easier than putting together a roast and all the trimmings and it’s really satisfying.  Of course, after I was done cooking, I felt chills and had to opt out of enjoying the meal.  Sigh.

For Christmas Eve day breakfast, we had these buttermilk waffles.  They are absolutely delicious.  And for Christmas Day breakfast, we had challah french toast.  Yum.

What did you have for your holiday spread?  I’ve got a ton of Sur La Table culinary goodies taking up major space in my basement so leave a comment and you could be entered to win a fun culinary prize!  Winners will be announced by next Sunday, January 8th.  Good luck!

Chicken Biriyani

Recipe Courtesy Of:  Mercy Samuel

  • 2-3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 small onions, sliced thin
  • 3 to 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cardamom pods
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green chili, seeds removed
  • 1  teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 4 lbs of boneless skinless chicken thighs (you can use bone-in legs and thighs but I prefer boneless)
  • 3 cups of basmati rice, washed
  • salt as desired

In a small food processor or blender, combine the ginger, garlic, green chili, cumin, cilantro and mint and pulse until it combines into a green paste.

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over a medium heat flame.  Add bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves until fragrant.  Next add the onions and saute.  When the onions turn golden, add the green paste and saute five minutes.  Add the turmeric, chili powder, salt and tomato paste.  Add the chicken pieces and saute for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, boil 8 cups of salted water in a large stock pot.  Once the water is boiling, add washed basmati rice into the pot.  Allow rice to boil over high heat for 7-10 minutes, until the rice is halfway cooked.  Strain.

In a lightly greased casserole dish, first layer the chicken and rice and alternate with rice on top.  Cover with aluminium foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

You can garnish the finished biriyani with a mixture of sautéed  onions, cashews and raisins.

Note: This can feed a crowd so adjust accordingly to meet your family’s needs.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Melissa says:

    Hey, don’t bad-mouth ham. 😉 Sounds wonderful, maybe I should try an Indian dish–maybe then I can get Peter to like Indian–it’s not his fav but I like it. Thanks for all the recipes, Sus, they are fantastic, and I can’t wait to try one this week. I’ll let you know all about it! 🙂


  2. Meg Larsen says:

    Way to be flexible! All your food sounds amazing. I’m a huge breakfast/brunch fan so I will definitely try out the waffles and French toast. My mom has pork tenderloin and cheesy potatoes every Christmas Eve and an angel food birthday cake with candles for Jesus. My mother-in-law had a nice lunch Christmas Day with Cornish game hens stuffed with wild rice. She had these near little Le Crouset souffle bowls which she made chocolate and lemon meringue souffles for dessert. It was fantastic and the best part, I didn’t have to cook very much! Although I do enjoy cooking, it was a nice treat!
    Always enjoy reading your posts and recipes. Thanks!


  3. Mercy Samuel says:

    I am glad you settled for good Indian food for Christmas day.


  4. Jill Schlottach says:

    We missed you but probably good to stat put. It’s not fun being sick and being away from home! We traveled so i didn’t really do any cooking other than making green beans almandine to take to my family’s on Christmas eve. It went with the ham;). But not just any ham-spiral sliced with a brown sugar glaze. Mmmmm


  5. Renee says:

    Looks yummy. We had some guest that don’t do pork and I don’t do turkey when I’m at church in the morning. So we went with apricot chicken, your wonderful herb potatoes (my go-to potato now), bread, and other fixings. I made a flourless chocolate cheescake torte for dessert. It was a yummy. Sorry your trip was cancelled.


  6. Rachel says:

    I’m always amazed at how many ingredients Indian dishes include! This recipe sounds so good, I hope to make it sometime this Winter.


  7. Nicole says:

    Sorry your Christmas didn’t turn out the way you planned Susy. Sounds like you made the best of it, though! Christmas morning breakfast was always a big deal in my family growing up. Last year I wanted to start a new tradition for Ben & I and decided to try making chocolate filled croissants – homemade croissant dough and all! They ended up being crispy, flat somethings 😦 I gave up on them and this year was going to go with cinnamon rolls, but ran out of time to make them and ended up having leftover homemade apple butterbraid. It was good, even left over, and may become the new tradition.


  8. Emilia says:

    This looks so delish Susy, plus your secret ingredient may be how special it is that you shared a family tradition at your family table this year! I am kicking myself for not poking my head out my front door on Christmas Eve to see if I could get just a whiff of the spread you were cookin up! Intrigued by your roasted eggplant yumminess, with a name like that what’s not to love! Well my holiday culinary adventures involved an embarrassing amount of consumed cookies and my mom’s stollen! Also learned that while a blast to dabble I think I would be better at hitting up my speed dial for the Med cafe than creating my own chix schwarma! 🙂


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