What to Cook for East Indian Dinners & Christmas?

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East Indian food is so delicious and tasty, once you’ve tried it, you’ll be craving for more. From appetizers or breads, to main courses or desserts, you’ll be left drooling!

Have you ever been in a situation where you are having guests over for dinner for an occasion and are not sure what to cook? Well, not in our home! If you know there’s an occasion coming up, dinner menus are decided well in advance and even the preparations begin days before the big occasion. Dessert prep might start weeks earlier.

Come Easter or Christmas or just a birthday celebration, there’s never just one of each dish, there’s always a range of options from appetizers, to main dishes and desserts too.

We, the East Indians of Bombay are known for our culture and food. East Indian food is both unique to the community and oh-so-flavourful.

If you’ve lived in or visited Mumbai at some time, you’ve of course tasted at least one East Indian dish, be it stuffed chicken, sorpotel, vindaloo, foogias, orias, or other traditional East Indian dishes.

Ever wonder what a traditional Christmas Dinner menu for East Indians is made of? Or what we cook and serve for Easter and other festive occasions or celebrations? What does an East Indian festive dinner party menu actually look like?

You don’t have to guess anymore! Here is a quick guide to the dishes we serve and relish for Christmas dinner, Easter lunch, anniversary celebrations, birthday parties, and also other festive occasions. Add them to your dinner party menu this year, and let us know how your guests like them!

Drinks, there’s always drinks first!

1. Homemade Fresh Grape Wine (Black or Green)

This homemade grape wine uses fresh either black or green grapes or a mix of the two. Easy to make at home for a cheap table wine.
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Two glasses with homemade grape wine.

2. Homemade Rose Petal Wine (Not Rose)

Homemade rose petal wine is a heady wine drink with the aroma of roses. After some experimentation, we made this earthy wine with dried rose petals, and it's perfect for celebrations or regular days in.
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Close up of rose wine served.

3. Spicy Homemade Ginger Wine

Homemade ginger wine is a light and refreshing drink for celebrations or regular days in. Using ginger root we make this spicy wine in 2 weeks and add a few optional ingredients for different flavors.
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Clear ginger wine in a glass next to a blue book.

4. Homemade Currant Wine or Raisin Wine

A traditional homemade currant wine made for Christmas, Easter and other festivities. Here's the recipe with a few personal tweaks.
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Currant wine is ready to drink - Pic by Abby from AbbysPlate

East Indian Appetizers Are Different!

5. How to boil Ox Tongue? | Beef Tongue | Bovine Tongue

Boiled bovine tongue tastes delicious and is easy-to-cook traditional East Indian snack served as a side, appetizer, or even in sandwiches. You won't even realize it's offal!
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Cut boiled ox tongue into slices.

6. Easy Boiled Grams – East Indian Chickpeas Snack

An easy snack or homemade appetizer, homemade boiled grams or spicy chickpeas are easy to make quickly. A musthave at every East Indian celebration.
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Boiled grams are a quick and easy snack.

7. East Indian Corned Tongue (Salted Ox Tongue)

The East Indian recipe for corned tongue or salted tongue takes a few days but is delicious and perfect for many dinners and sandwiches.
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Corned tongue slices on a bed of lettuce with a bowl of green chutney.

8. Potato Chops filled with Minced Meat

Ground or minced beef, lamb or chicken meat is seasoned with spices and cooked before being encased in a patty of mashed potato. For appetizers or as side dishes, these East Indian potato chops are just perfect!
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Two full and one half potato chop on a plate.

9. Canapes with Russian Salad

The East Indian version of the famous Olivier salad, it does not require too many ingredients. Refreshing and cooling, this summer salad is simply perfect! What doesn’t fit in the canapes can be later served as a salad with the main course.
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Russian salad next to it's ingredients.

Breads, Rice and More Breads!

10. Wedding Bread called Bhokache Varias/Orias/Wariyas

For breakfast, lunch, or dinner, these doughnut-shaped breads are just delicious. They're especially popular at East Indian weddings and special events.
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Varias pyramid served on a plate.

11. Indian Jeera Rice – Cumin Rice

Jeera rice is popular across India. Made by adding fried jeera or cumin to cooked rice, it's a cooling and tasty way to serve fluffy white rice or basmati rice!
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Black pot filled with jeera rice sprinkled with coriander.

12. Gluten Free Chitaps or Rice Crepes

East Indian chitaps are a light and fluffy rice crepe that goes well with anything. Abby modified the recipe to make it gluten free for her friends.
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East Indian gluten free rice crepes called chitaps folded in triangles on a black tray.

13. East Indian Colored Rice – Pink Green and White Rice

A more colorful version of the jeera rice or jeera fried rice, the East Indian tricolor rice is pink/red, green, and white in color. Fragrant and tasty, it's often eaten for festive occasions.
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Top view of East Indian green red and white rice in a platter.

14. Foogias: Soft Balloon Bread

Foogias are one of the many traditional East Indian varieties of bread. Round, soft and fluffy, they disappear almost as soon as they're placed on the table.
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Ready foogias served in a plate.

15. How to cook yellow (turmeric) rice perfectly?

Rice is a staple food all over India, and is eaten as a main dish with a variety of dals or curries. But yellow rice is tastier and healthier.
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Rice served with coriander and tomatoes.

16. Chicken Liver Stuffing – Giblet Pudding

The traditional East Indian stuffing for Christmas meals consist of a chicken liver and bread pudding that's stuffed into the chickens' cavity before roasting. Here's how to make this delicious homemade liver stuffing that's sometimes called a giblet stuffing.
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Chicken liver stuffing on a white plate.

17. Traditional East Indian Wedding Rice

East Indian Wedding rice is a delicious and tasty dish served at most East Indian weddings and speical functions.
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East Indian wedding rice in a white platter.

Mains Contain offal Too!

18. East Indian Stuffed Roast Chicken

Roast chicken can be stuffed with a tasty liver stuffing (giblet pudding). The glazed crispy chicken skin tastes as delicious as the juicy flesh; and carves out just perfectly!
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Stuffed roast chicken on a bed of liver pudding.

19. Sarpatel/Sorpotel/Sarapatel – Dry Version

Some people also make sarapatel. And really our East Indian version tastes ten times better than the Goan version of this age-old traditional Portuguese recipe. Wink wink! You can click here to see the step by step sorpotel recipe with pictures from my Uncle Jude in Perth, Australia.
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20. East Indian Beef Tongue Roast

The East Indian Beef Tongue Roast is a simple and easy-to-cook recipe using a handful of ingredients. All you need is an hour and a half!
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Beef tongue roast in a vessel with spices.

21. Spicy Pork Vindaloo – Indyal

The Spicy East Indian Vindaloo or Indyal dish has been influenced by the Portuguese Carne de Vinha D'Alhos dish.
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Pork Vindaloo in a pot.

22. East Indian Duck Moile Curry

Duck Moile is a traditional East Indian dish that is full of flavour. Tender and juicy slow-cooked meat is served with rice, foogias, hand breads, or chitaps, and a cooling salad for the perfect meal!
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East Indian Duck Moile in a bowl next to boiled rice and onion and lemon in bowls.

23. Spicy East Indian Pork Tamriad

Spicy East Indian Pork Tamriad Recipe made by Mumbai's East Indians is a cross between vindaloo and sorpotel.
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Close up image of pork tamriad in a kadai.

24. Easy Roast Chicken with Root Veggies

An easier version of the Sunday chicken dinner, the stovetop roast chicken with carrots and potatoes is simply perfect!
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Cook the chicken without stuffing and serve on a plate.

25. Pork Ukra – Pork Yellow Vindaloo Recipe

East Indian Pork Ukra dish made by us East Indians of Mumbai is what we call a yellow vindaloo. As tasty as traditional spicy vindaloo but yellow in color!
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East Indian pork ukra in a white dish surrounded by red chilies.

Pickles and salads make an appearance too

26. East Indian Wedding Pickle

Sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and tangy at the same time, the traditional East Indian wedding pickle takes a few weeks to prepare. This is our modified modern version of this mouth-watering raw papaya and carrot pickle.
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Wedding pickle in a glass bowl.

27. Onion Tomato Cucumber Salad – East Indian Simple Salad

A simple salad, this East Indian onion tomato cucumber salad is ready in minutes. Perfect for hot summer days, you'll always find this simple side salad at every East Indian meal.
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Onion tomato cucumber salad.

And Who Can Forget The Christmas Dessert Platter! Or the Sweets After a Filling Meal!

28. Bolings – Semolina Coconut Cookies

Bolings are a sweet coconut semolina cookie that is made around Christmas time in most East Indian Catholic households!
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Bolings are ready.

29. Dense Date and Walnut Cake

A delightful cake made of sweet pitted dates and crunchy walnut pieces, the East Indian Date and Walnut Cake is easy to make at home.
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Date and walnut cake on a black surface with some walnuts and dates.

30. Vanilla Cream Dessert – More than a Milk Fudge!

Vanilla Cream or Milk Cream is a East Indian dessert made for Christmas every year. It's more lighter than a fudge and melts in your mouth.
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Vanilla Cream on a red tablecloth with a Christmas drummer bear.

31. East Indian Borose (Semolina Coconut Cookies)

East Indian Borose is a delightfully sweet coconutty cookie made with semolina. This traditional East Indian cookie is perfect for tea or as a Christmas dessert!
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Serve East Indian borose on a plate with tea.

32. Carambolas: An East Indian Christmas Kulkul Sweet

Carambolas are a traditional East Indian dessert made around Christmas time. More commonly known as Kulkuls, this sugary frosted treat made by most East Indian Christian households are called carambolas when they're star fruit-shaped.
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Sweet carambola shells in a white bowl.

33. Moulded Milk and Cocoa Fudge – Walnut Fudge Recipe

The traditional recipe for the East Indian walnut fudge dessert made for Christmas using milk, sugar, and walnuts is gluten-free as well as vegetarian.
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7 pieces of walnut fudge on a white plate with circular designs.

34. East Indian Cashewnut Marzipan (Christmas Dessert)

The East Indian Cashewnut Marzipan is an East Indian Christmas dessert that's moulded into the shapes of Christmas ornaments or fruits and flowers.
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Colourful marzipan on a red tablecloth with a drummer bear.

35. East Indian Thalie Sweet

Thalie Sweet is a traditional East Indian coconut cake usually baked around Christmas Time or for celebrations. But they're perfect for tea time too!
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Diamond shaped Thalie sweet on a black tray.

36. Sojee Sweet – Sojee Halwa Pieces – Semolina Dessert

A simple dessert made of semolina, the sojee sweet is an adordable Christmas sweet. Traditionally colored green, you'll find it on every East Indian Christmas platter.
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Top view of sojee sweet with cashews on a black tray.

37. Date Rolls (Shortbread Cookies stuffed with Walnuts and Dates)

Traditional East Indian date rolls are delicious bites of dates and walnuts wrapped in buttery shortbread-like cookies.
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Date Rolls on a bkaing tray.

38. East Indian Coconut Cake

This traditional East Indian coconut cake is different from other homemade coconut cakes. Dense and moist, and traditionally made with fresh grated coconut, you can also use desiccated coconut. Every coconut cake slice is a delight to eat!
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A coconut cake log and a coconut cake slice on a black plate.

39. Goiabada – East Indian Guava Cheese Recipe

Guava Cheese or Goiabada is a tasty East Indian sweet dish prepared for Christmas time! Both chewy and fudgy, there's a mouthful of Guava in every bite.
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Goiabada on a black tray.

40. Dark Fruit Cake – Rich Fruit Cake

East Indian dark fruit cake is so rich and dense, you'll go back for seconds and thirds. Serve for Christmas lunch or dinner with some great homemade wine. Or serve for celebratoins and dinner parties!
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Cut the cake into slices and serve on plate.

41. Tartlets (Coconut Filled Dessert Baskets)

Light baskets of coconut in beautiful pinks and greens, these tartlets are an East Indian Christmas dessert that’s a must on every dessert platter.
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Top view of the East Indian coconut dessert called tartlets.

42. Bol de Coc – Bolos de Coco – East Indian Coconut Cake

Bol De Coc is a traditional East Indian cake with a delicious coconutty taste and a moist crumb, and is the perfect tea time snack!
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Delicious Bol de Coc

43. East Indian Glutenfree Coconut Cordial Dessert

Our granny’s recipe for East Indian Coconut Cordial is one of our favorite easy to make traditional Christmas recipes.
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Traditional East Indian Cordial - Pic by Abby from AbbysPlate

44. Light Fruit Cake – Mixed Fruit Cake – Tooti Frooti Cake

Light Fruit Cake or Tooti Frooti Cake is a delicious treat for Christmas or even at tea time. So yum and fruity, you won't be able to stop at just one piece of Mixed Fruit Cake.
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Serve Tooti frooti cake on a plate.

45. East Indian Nankhatai – Eggless Shortbread

Simple and easy to make, the eggless Indian Nankhatai is a perfect treat for Christmas time or any other time of the year!
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Homemade Nankhatai topped with tooti frooti on a black tray.

46. East Indian Bol Lucrecia | East Indian Coconut Pie

Bol Lucrecia is a traditional East Indian Coconut Pie dessert that is moist on the inside and crispy outside. You'll love it as much as you love coconuts.
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Bol Lucrecia on a white plate.

47. Cashew Rock or Almond Rock – East Indian Version

The easier counterpart to marzipan, cashew rock or almond rock is shaped like the Indian kaju katli, but a lot tastier.
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Top view of pink East Indian cashew rock.

What else does your family have on their East Indian Christmas dinner menu? Comment and let me know! And I’ll try to add it to this list soon!

If you want our traditional East Indian recipes on hand, the Abby's Plate Cookbook Series books are available online or in-store in most countries.

Latest Book:
East Indian Celebration
Festive Recipes from Abby's Plate


See the full list of books here!

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