Merry Christmas Everyone! Here’s to a sip into a hot Mulled Wine bellowing up some smokey dreams in the air, a sniff into the Christmas chill and freezing hands trembling with excitement inside the gloves… yes, it’s that time of the year when happiness is suspended in bubbles in the wine and stuck in the grease of the Turkey gravy. Well that was our life in flashback when we used to live in Germany 8 years back… when Christmas meant the magical Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas market around Romer in Frankfurt and the aroma of Glühwein hitting the nostrils at all hours… and a real Christmas tree! In Dubai terms, it means searching for the shopping mall that has put up the tallest Christmas tree and peeping into a hotel lobby which has the most gorgeously decked one. It also means that there is fake snow and snowflakes perking up some shopping mall around town (Dubai Marina Mall). We also have the ‘tallest gingerbread tower in Dubai’ – a 11.7m tall tower made by chefs working 432 hours at The Address Marina, using 180kg of flour, 90kg of honey, 570kg of icing sugar! No complaints at all, for December in Dubai is now unquestionably and undoubtedly Christmassy, as compared to a decade back. And I just tasted my first Mulled Wine of the season in a Christmas Market here… The Souk Festive Market at Madinat Jumeirah. The above picture is a testimony to it! Christmas also reminds me of my childhood in Kolkata, where we grew up celebrating all festivals from all religion. Christmas would mean special rum balls from the very famous Kolkata confectioners – Flury’s (revisted this place during my Kolkata visit this summer). My mother would dress me up in my special gown sewn just for Christmas and we would visit the special candle-lit midnight mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral – one of the oldest structures in Kolkata. Years later I felt the same excitement as I saw my first ‘real’ Christmas tree – a fir tree almost 100 ft long in the Christmas Market in Frankfurt. And sipped on my first Glühwein. I felt the same excitement when Glühwein transformed itself into Svařák on our visit to Prague during Christmas two years back (I have written about it in BBC GoodFood ME). Back at home, our Christmas dinners are complete with Turkey roast, bread pudding and Mulled Wine, the latter prepared sometimes in the traditional way or using a shortcut method with pre-packed mulled spices available in one of the city’s wine stores. Recipe of Mulled wine differs with countries, as well with families. Like a treasured heirloom, some recipes are passed on from one generation to another. Here’s the Czech recipe that I follow… and it can be easily replicated at home (oh forgive the streaks of flash in the home kitchen – it’s Christmas after all)!
Svařák or Czech Mulled Wine
Mulled wine is a usually made with red wine (Port and claret being the traditional choices) along with various mulling spices and raisins. It is a traditional drink during winter, especially around Christmas and is served hot or warm. Non-alcoholic mulled drink can also be made with hot apple cider and juices.
1 lt red wine (usually cheap ones)
10 pieces of whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 of lemon
1/2 of orange
4-7 teaspoons of sugar
- Pour wine into big pot, add cloves, cinnamon sticks, orange and/or lemon and heat up (do not boil).
- When hot add sugar (should be sweet enough for your taste) and serve.
*Note: The combination of spices varies, but it usually consists of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg; and less frequently star anise, peppercorn or cardamom. It also usually includes dried fruit (such as raisins, apples or orange rind). A “mulled” drink is a drink which has been prepared with these spices (usually through heating the drink in a pot with mulling spices and then strained.
Unblogging it all… Ishita
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