Six festive recipes from around the world

Buche de Noel. Courtesy Bistro des Arts
Buche de Noel. Courtesy Bistro des Arts


British-inspired: smoked salmon and apple salad with horseradish cream

Smoked salmon with apple and rocket salad and horseradish cream. Photo by Scott Price
Smoked salmon with apple and rocket salad and horseradish cream. Photo by Scott Price

Serves 6

Preparation time 10 minutes


100g crème fraîche

2tbsp horseradish cream

Juice and zest of half a lemon, plus extra to garnish

500g smoked salmon

2 green apples

150g rocket leaves

2tbsp fennel seeds, toasted


Put the crème fraîche, horseradish cream and lemon juice and zest in a bowl, and whisk together. Season with plenty of black pepper. Set aside.

Slice the apples as thinly as you can and place in a bowl of iced water to crisp up.

Arrange the apple slices in circles on serving plates. Place a small handful of salad leaves in the middle and add the smoked salmon slices. Drizzle with the horseradish cream (or serve on the side), scatter over the toasted fennel seeds and dust with lemon zest.

Courtesy Emily Price


Lebanese-inspired: seven-spiced stuffed turkey breast with date syrup

Judy Karim’s seven-spiced stuffed turkey breast with date syrup. Courtesy Judy Karim
Judy Karim’s seven-spiced stuffed turkey breast with date syrup. Courtesy Judy Karim

Serves 4 (easily doubled)

Preparation time 20 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes


800g turkey breast, flattened

4 tbsp Arabic seven-spice

400g cooked freekeh

6 tbsp raisins

200g dates, pitted and chopped

400ml water


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Wrap the turkey breasts in cling film, place on a cutting board and use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound them to a thickness of around 1cm.

Remove the cling film, place the turkey breasts skin side down and season the meat all over with salt and the Arabic seven-spice. Spread one-third of the cooked freekeh over the turkey breasts, add the raisins and roll up tightly, so that the meat encases the stuffing. Secure with kitchen twine or string, adding toothpicks to fasten if needed. Transfer to the oven and cook for 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Put the dates and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and blitz in a hand blender until you have a smooth, thick sauce (add more water if needed). To serve, arrange the remaining freekeh on a platter and sit the turkey breast on top. Offer the date sauce on the side.

Courtesy Judy Karim


Persian-inspired: shirin polo

Shirin Polo extracted from Pomegranates and Roses_ My Persian Family Recipes by Ariana Bundy
Shirin Polo extracted from Pomegranates and Roses_ My Persian Family Recipes by Ariana Bundy

Serves 8-10

Preparation time 60 minutes

Cook time 2 hours

Ingredients for the rice dish

800g rice, washed until the water runs clear

Peel of 2 large oranges or 150g ready-prepared peel

10 medium-sized carrots, cut into julienne strips

50g butter

250g sugar

50ml rose water

11/2tbsp cinnamon

Ingredients for the taadig (crusty part at the bottom)

50g to 75g melted butter, ghee or safflower oil, plus 1tbsp extra for topping

11/2tbsp natural yogurt

1/4tsp saffron threads, pounded

To serve

1 generous spoon of slivered almonds

1 generous spoon of slivered pistachios


Cook the rice, drain and cool.

Place the orange peel in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and boil for about 2 to 3 minutes, then discard the water. Do this three times to remove the bitterness.

Put 500ml water in a pan and add the orange peel, carrots, butter and sugar. Bring to the boil and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the rose water and set aside.

For the taadig, add melted butter, ghee or oil to a heavy non-stick pan and heat briskly with the yogurt, saffron, 2 to 3 ­ladles of rice and 75ml water. Stir well and spread the mixture over the base and start layering the rice and carrot mixture on top. Start with a layer of rice. Then add a layer of the carrot and orange peel mixture, and sprinkle with 1 tsp cinnamon. Repeat the layers, making the rice into a pyramid shape.

Poke 4 or 5 deep holes into the rice with a chopstick or the handle of a spoon, making sure it hits the bottom of the pot, then cover. Let the rice cook on a high heat for 5 to 7 minutes then remove the lid and add 125ml water and 1 tablespoon butter, oil or ghee.

Wrap the lid in a clean tea towel or 2 to 3 sheets of kitchen paper. Cover the pan, making sure the tea towel or kitchen paper is wrapped up around the handle so that it doesn’t catch fire. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting. Allow to cook for 50 to 60 minutes undisturbed.

In order for the almonds not to be too hard, you can steam them on top of the rice. Add them about 5 or 7 minutes before you’re about to take the rice off the heat. You can also put them in a china ramekin and place it on the mound of rice. Pistachios don’t need this treatment as they have a more delicate texture and are best when they are a little crunchy. Serve the rice on a platter.

Courtesy Ariana Bundy


French-inspired: bûche de Noël

Buche de Noel. Courtesy Bistro des Arts
Buche de Noel. Courtesy Bistro des Arts

Serves 6-8

Preparation time 1 hour

Cook time 30 minutes

Ingredients for the sponge

30g butter, melted

50g flour

50g almond powder

100g sugar

2 eggs

Small pinch of salt

Ingredients for the syrup

100ml water

50g sugar

Ingredients for the chestnut-cream filling

200ml whipping cream

200g chestnut cream (buy this readymade)

Ingredients for the chocolate topping

150g dark chocolate, melted

3tbsp mascarpone

3tbsp double cream

Icing sugar, to decorate


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Separate the egg yolks and whites, setting the whites aside for later.

Put the yolks in a mixing bowl, add the sugar and beat with an electric whisk until the mixture has doubled in volume. Add the flour, almond powder, salt and melted butter, and continue to whisk until the mix is smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric whisk until soft peaks form, then gently fold into the egg yolks and flour. Pour the mixture into a large rectangular baking tray, spreading out to a thickness of 3mm. Smooth the surface with a spatula and cook for 15 minutes.

Whisk the whipping cream to soft peaks, then transfer to the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Put the water and sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and set aside. Turn the sponge out onto a clean damp tea towel, leaving the baking paper on. Roll up into a cylinder shape and leave for 5 minutes.

Unroll the sponge, remove the baking paper and brush the sponge all over with the sugar syrup. Roll up again. Remove the whipped cream from the fridge and mix in the chestnut cream until smooth.

Unroll the sponge again, spread with a 5mm-thick layer of the chestnut cream. Roll up once more and transfer to the fridge for 20 minutes.

Mix the mascarpone cheese, double cream and melted chocolate together until smooth. Remove the sponge from the fridge and cover completely with the chocolate-cream mixture. Use a fork to scratch the surface to give the cake a tree bark effect. Dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Courtesy Stephane Cedelle


Italian-inspired: struffoli


Serves 8 to 10

Preparation time 30 minutes, plus resting

Cook time 20 minutes


2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting

1 large lemon, zested (approx 2 tsp)

½ orange, zested (approx 2 tsps)

3 tbsp sugar

½ tsp fine salt

¼ tsp baking powder

30g butter, diced and at room temperature

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Canola oil, for frying

1½ cups hazelnuts, toasted

Sugar sprinkles, for decoration

Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

Ingredients for the syrup

1 cup honey

½ cup sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice


To make the dough, pulse the flour, lemon zest, orange zest, sugar, salt and baking powder together in the bowl of a food processor.

Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the eggs and vanilla.

Pulse until the mixture forms a ball. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough into four equal-sized pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece to a thickness of approximately 0.6cm, and then cut into 1cm pieces.

Roll each piece of dough into a small ball, about the size of a hazelnut.

Fill a heavy-based saucepan three-quarters full with canola oil, set over a medium heat and heat until a small piece of bread turns golden brown – about 3 minutes.

Cook the balls of dough in batches for 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain any excess oil on a plate lined with kitchen paper.

To make the syrup, put the honey, sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan and set over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and heat for 3 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved.

Remove from the heat and add the fried dough balls and the hazelnuts, stirring to coat. Leave for 2 minutes.

Place a lightly oiled water glass in the middle of a large plate. Arrange the struffoli and hazelnuts around the glass to form a wreath shape.

Drizzle with honey syrup and leave it to set for two hours.

Dust with sugar sprinkles and icing sugar and remove the water glass just before serving.

Courtesy Luigi Vesper


Indian-inspired: spiced apple and ginger chutney

Maunika Gowardhan's spiced apple and ginger chutney. Courtesy Maunika Gowardhan
Maunika Gowardhan's spiced apple and ginger chutney. Courtesy Maunika Gowardhan

Makes 600g

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes


2 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp fennel seeds

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

3 tbsp grated ginger

1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder

190g soft brown sugar

4 tbsp white balsamic vinegar

850g cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into cubes

Pinch of salt


Put the cumin and fennel seeds in a small frying pan and dry roast over a low heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Grind to a coarse powder and set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the ground cumin and fennel seeds and sizzle for a minute. Add the sliced onion and fry for 5 to 7 minutes until softened and starting to colour. Add the ginger, chilli powder, sugar, vinegar, chopped apple and salt. Mix well, making sure the apple is well coated with the spices.

Simmer the mix over a low heat for an hour, stirring after 30 minutes. The chutney is ready when it is thick, syrupy and caramelised.

Leave to cool completely, then divide between sterilised jars. Once opened, refrigerate and use within two weeks.

Courtesy Maunika Gowardhan

Read more: UAE residents and chefs tells us about their festive treats

Updated: December 17, 2017 01:18 PM


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