Thursday, December 24, 2009

Recipe: Frozen Christmas pudding

Christmas finally seems to have arrived in Delhi. Street corner vendors wear Santa hats while smoking their beedis. INA Market is full of temporary Christmas bunting stalls and, out the back, live turkeys. A handful of restaurants are finally on board with this firangi festive thing and are emailing around special menus. Tinsel dangles like overgrown weeds throughout Select Citywalk. Shimla hotels are almost totally booked out with holidaymakers keen on a white Christmas. (I will be joining them, thankfully having secured a room even though I left it really late.)

In fact, it will be my very first white Christmas. In Australia, the mercury usually hovers somewhere between 30° and 35° (except for one memorable day three years ago when it was 9° and sleeting in Melbourne), and consequently, Australians have come up with a unique Christmas feast that climactically appropriate, yet still festive: seafood barbeque, lashings of beer, cold roasted meats, salads, finished with fresh fruit, pavlova, and, increasingly, an ice cream plum pudding. Nigella Lawson's Christmas book, released last year, includes a recipe for an Australian Christmas Pud, which is essentially bits of plum pudding broken up in chocolate ice cream. 

I made an ice cream pudding for an early Christmas dinner earlier this week; unfortunately my freezer chose that moment to have a teenage meltdown and refuse to function, and consequently I had to rename it Chilled Christmas Dessert Soup. It tasted fine, but I think it's far better actually frozen.

All ingredients are fantastically, easily available here. Plum cakes are at every corner grocery store; I got mine from Defence Colony Bakery and it was divinely rich and dense.

No photo, sadly, due to the molten mess. 

Frozen Christmas pudding
serves 6-10 

1 1/2 litres vanilla ice cream (Mother Dairy is great) 
1 small plum cake or plum pudding, cubed or crumbled
1-2 teaspoons rosewater (the Dabur brand usually used for face care is fine)
1 handful nuts (I like pistachios), chopped roughly
1 scant capful Old Monk rum 
a few squares of chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Soften ice cream, transfer to a big glass or plastic bowl, add all ingredients, stir like a madwoman, refreeze (stirring every so often to make sure it's mixed and pudding bits don't just sink to bottom). Add more cinnamon and nutmeg if it does not taste Christmassy enough.

Once frozen, invert onto a festive-looking platter: Gladwrap used to line the bowl prior to freezing might help with the inversion. Cut into slices to serve. Or scoop with a spoon. 

The rosewater is pivotal, the rum is not, just my nod to local tastes.

Optional extras/variations: mixed glace peel, raisins/sultanas soaked in rum or brandy, vanilla bean seeds, chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla, Turkish Delight.


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