How do you celebrate Christmas? What do you eat and drink? It depends on who you ask. In a festive mini-series, we quizzed seven foodie Londoners from various cultural backgrounds about their festive food, drink, customs and traditions. Here’s what they had to say…
Originally from Madgaon (Margao), Goa’s second largest city, Mathias Heredia now lives in Aldgate East. He’s the head chef at Cyrus Todiwala’s nearby Café Spice Namaste, where he’s worked for over 20 years. The restaurant has a few Goan dishes on the menu and more can be found at the group’s Goan-fusion restaurant Assado in Waterloo.
“I’m a Goan Christian, so going to the church at Christmas is compulsory. I’ll usually try to go on Christmas Eve, but if I’m working, then it will be on the morning of Christmas Day. We have the English Martyrs Catholic Church here in Aldgate East. We often go to my sister’s house to celebrate; and there’ll be friends around the table, too. We eat roast pork and pork sarpotel, in which the meat is parboiled, diced, sautéed and cooked in a spicy vinegar sauce. It’s eaten with a simple pulao rice and sanna — steamed spongy rice cakes a bit like idlis, which have a little toddy (palm liquor) added.
For dessert, we have kul kuls: sweet, crunchy Christmas pastries that are cut into different shapes and deep-fried. We also have neureos, another Christmas speciality that’s made by folding pastry into boat shapes, and stuffing them with a mixture of fresh coconut, jaggery and a bit of sugar. Another festive sweet is dodol, a pudding made from rice flour, coconut milk and coconut palm jaggery. It’s very soft, takes a long time to make, and is served cut into pieces. There are many other sweets, too, but these are the main ones. In Goa, we would drink cashew feni (a type of spirit), coconut feni and beers, but in London I’ll be drinking beers and whisky.”
Try it yourself: Goan eating and drinking in London
Waterloo’s Assado highlights the natural correlation and historic closeness of food from Goa, Portugal and Brazil by combining elements from each in bright-flavoured dishes.
Long-standing, family-run restaurant in Putney
Homely Goan cuisine in Norbury, along with a deli section of Goan goods to take away.
Marylebone’s Michelin-starred Trishna specialises in the coastal cuisine of south west India, including Goa. Highlights include a rich buttered crab dish.
Also in the series:
What’s A Russian Christmas In London Like?
What’s An Italian Christmas In London Like?
What’s An Ethiopian Christmas In London Like?
What’s A Spanish Christmas In London Like?
What’s A West-African-Greek-British Christmas In London Like?
What’s A German Christmas In London Like?