When you think of Christmas, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s a cozy family gathering around a beautifully decorated tree, the sound of carolers singing familiar tunes, and the comforting aroma of roast turkey or ham wafting through the air. While these traditions are beloved staples of many Western cultures, Christmas is celebrated in diverse ways across the globe. In this blog post, we’ll take you on a culinary journey to explore some of the most unusual and delicious Christmas dishes from different corners of the world. Get ready to expand your holiday menu with these fascinating recipes!
1. Joulutorttu – Finland
In Finland, the Christmas season is a magical time filled with traditions, and one standout treat is the Joulutorttu or Christmas tart. These pastries are made from thin layers of puff pastry, folded to create a star shape, and filled with a sweet prune or apricot jam. Once baked to golden perfection, they are dusted with powdered sugar, resembling snow-covered stars. These delightful treats are not only visually appealing but also a delicious addition to any Christmas table.
- 1 package of frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
- 1 cup prune or apricot jam
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Roll out the puff pastry sheets and cut them into equal-sized squares.
- Make diagonal cuts from each corner of the square towards the center, leaving about an inch uncut in the middle.
- Place a small spoonful of jam in the center of each square.
- Fold every other corner of the pastry square towards the center, covering the jam.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.
- Let them cool slightly, then dust them with powdered sugar before serving.
2. Puto Bumbong – Philippines
In the Philippines, Christmas is celebrated with fervor, and a popular delicacy associated with the season is Puto Bumbong. These violet-colored rice cakes are traditionally steamed in bamboo tubes, which gives them their unique shape and flavor. They are served with butter, grated coconut, and muscovado sugar. The combination of flavors and textures in Puto Bumbong makes it a delightful treat during Filipino Christmas festivities.
Recipe: Puto Bumbong
- 1 cup glutinous rice
- 2-3 drops of purple food coloring
- Bamboo tubes or banana leaves for steaming
- Butter, grated coconut, and muscovado sugar for serving
- Wash the glutinous rice until the water runs clear, then soak it in water for about 4 hours.
- Drain the rice and mix in the purple food coloring.
- Fill each bamboo tube with the colored rice, leaving some space at the top.
- Steam the rice-filled bamboo tubes for 30-40 minutes.
- Once cooked, remove the rice from the bamboo tubes and serve with a generous topping of butter, grated coconut, and muscovado sugar.
3. Tamales – Mexico
In Mexico, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without the beloved tradition of making tamales. Tamales are corn masa dough filled with various ingredients such as meats, cheese, or chilies, wrapped in corn husks, and steamed to perfection. They are a labor of love, often prepared by families together during the holiday season. Each region of Mexico has its own special tamale recipe, making it a diverse and culturally rich Christmas dish.
- 2 cups masa harina
- 1 cup chicken or pork broth
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Salt to taste
- Corn husks, soaked in warm water to soften
- Filling of your choice (e.g., shredded chicken, cheese, salsa)
- In a large bowl, mix masa harina, baking powder, vegetable oil, and salt.
- Gradually add the chicken or pork broth, mixing until the dough is smooth and pliable.
- Take a corn husk and spread a spoonful of the masa dough onto it.
- Add your chosen filling in the center of the masa dough.
- Fold the sides of the corn husk over the filling and fold up the bottom.
- Steam the tamales for 1-1.5 hours or until the masa is cooked and firm.
- Serve your tamales hot with salsa or sauce of your choice.
4. Kūčios – Lithuania
Lithuania celebrates Christmas with a 12-dish feast known as Kūčios. One of the most unique dishes on the menu is Kūčiukai, tiny sweet pastries often made with poppy seeds. These bite-sized treats are crunchy and slightly sweet, symbolizing good luck and abundance for the upcoming year. They are traditionally served with poppy seed milk, another Christmas delicacy in Lithuania.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Poppy seeds for topping
- Honey for drizzling
- In a bowl, mix the warm water, sugar, and salt until dissolved.
- Gradually add the flour and knead until you have a smooth dough.
- Pinch off small pieces of dough and roll them into tiny balls.
- Place the dough balls on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F (180°C) for about 20 minutes or until they are golden brown.
- Once baked, sprinkle poppy seeds over the Kūčiukai and drizzle with honey.
5. Feuerzangenbowle – Germany
While Germany is famous for its Christmas markets and mulled wine, there’s another drink that takes center stage during the holiday season: Feuerzangenbowle, or “fire tongs punch.” This festive beverage involves igniting a sugarloaf soaked in rum and letting it slowly drip into a pot of mulled wine. It creates a spectacular and warming spectacle, perfect for gathering around with friends and family.
- 1 bottle of red wine
- 1 orange, sliced
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 5-6 cloves
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 sugarloaf
- 1 cup rum
- In a large pot, combine the red wine, orange slices, lemon slices, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. Heat until warm but not boiling.
- Place a heatproof rack over the pot and set the sugarloaf on top.
- Pour the rum over the sugarloaf.
- Ignite the rum with a long lighter or match, allowing it to slowly drip into the mulled wine.
- Once the sugarloaf has completely melted, stir the punch and serve in mugs.
This Christmas, why not add a touch of international flair to your festive menu by trying these unusual and delicious dishes from around the world? From the sweet and flaky Joulutorttu of Finland to the fiery spectacle of Feuerzangenbowle in Germany, these unique recipes will not only tantalize your taste buds but also introduce you to the diverse culinary traditions of the holiday season. So, gather your loved ones and embark on a culinary journey to create unforgettable memories this Christmas. Happy cooking and joyful feasting!
Remember, the best way to celebrate the holidays is by sharing love and food with friends and family, no matter where you are in the world. Cheers to a global Christmas celebration!