Six chef's a cooking

If you expect more than a few French hens and a fruity partridge for your Christmas dinner check out these recipes from top Dubai chefs


On the first day of Christmas your true love gave to you… a slice of turkey and a clutch of sprouts. But surely there’s more to Christmas food than that? From Italy to India, the traditional festive feast is celebrated in all kinds of ways by all kinds of people. Since Dubai is a truly multi-cultural city, James Brennan put on his international party hat and asked some top chefs and restaurant bosses to reveal their respective Christmas-loving country’s favourite recipes and traditions.

1 Char-grilled kangaroo fillet with garlic and nutmeg infused potato dauphinoise

Priyanshu Malv


Yalumba, Le Méridien Dubai (04 282 4040)

300g potatoes
200g kangaroo fillet
100g carrots
80g broccoli
50g shallots
30g butter
20g chopped garlic
10g salt
5g white pepper
5g cracked black pepper
3g nutmeg powder
100ml cream
100ml milk
150ml demi glaze (brown sauce)
15ml port wine
30ml red wine

Season the kangaroo fillet with salt and cracked black pepper and char-grill it according to desired doneness. Wash, peel and thinly slice the potato. Mix together the cream, milk, garlic, salt, white pepper and nutmeg powder and reduce to half. Mix together the potato slices and cream mixture, and arrange in an ovenproof dish lined with butter and bake at 160°C for one hour. Cut it into the desired shape with a knife. Slice the shallots, and mix them with red and port wine, reduce it on heat by half, add demi glaze and further reduce till sauce consistency – season the port wine jus with salt and pepper according to taste and fine strain it. Cut the broccoli and carrots, blanch them in salted boiling water then place in iced water to stop further cooking and avoid discolouration. Sauté in butter and sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Arrange artistically on the plate and drizzle with port wine jus.

Yalumba Restaurant Manager Mario Mendis
‘In Australia, we go out in the back yard and have a barbecue – we invite all our friends and family over. We have meat, steaks, beer – stuff like that. We don’t have traditional drinks like they do in other countries – just beer. It’s really an excuse for a big party – and that’s an Australian tradition, for sure. We don’t actually eat much kangaroo and crocodile back home; we eat steaks, and fresh fish like salmon and red snapper. I doubt you’ll find kangaroo in the local supermarkets over here, so maybe stick with steak or chicken. For dessert we’ll have pavlova or sticky toffee pudding – they’re very Australian. Then we’ll play a game of cricket or rugby – but it’s got to be outdoors and there’s got to be a barbie with a big ‘eski’ [cool box] full of beer! We say “throw another snag on the barbie and hand me a six pack” – all Aussies know what that means.’ (The char-grilled kangaroo fillet will be available at Yalumba from New Year’s Eve)

2 Braised veal cheek tortellini with hen consommé (tortellini al guanciale brasato di vitello in brodo di gallina)

Andrea Strem


Carnevale, Jumeirah Beach Hotel (04 348 0000)

For the hen broth and consommé
600g fresh hen
80g carrots
80g green celery
80g white onion
40g parsley
10g bay leaf
10g black peppercorns
10g juniper

For the veal tortelini
200g veal cheek
120g vegetables mirepoix
150g fresh egg pasta dough
50g tomato paste
40g grated Parmesan cheese
100ml beef stock
Extra virgin olive oil
Maldon salt and white pepper

Hen Broth

Put the fresh hen, vegetables ‘mirepoix’, seasonings and cold water in a big pot. Add the bay leaf, fresh parsley, black peppercorns and juniper, and bring gently to a simmer, skimming as necessary. Boil on a low flame for two hours. Strain and degrease the broth. To keep the broth clear, first remove the hen meat and the vegetables before straining. Keep the hen meat and the vegetables on the side to finish the consommé.

Hen Consommé
Clean the meat from the bones of the hen, and then mince the meat together with the vegetables ‘mirepoix’. Add the egg white and some peppercorns. In a large pot, start to set up the consommé by adding the blended clarification ingredients to the cold hen broth. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until it begins to foam. As the consommé continues to simmer, the natural meat and eggs will co-agulate, forming the ‘raft’. Once the raft foams, stop stirring the consommé to allow the raft to come together. Carefully enlarge the opening in the raft, strain the consommé with a paper coffee filter or cheesecloth. Add seasoning.

Braised veal cheek
In a large casserole dish, braise the veal cheek with carrot, celery, onion, garlic, black peppercorns, juniper, tomato paste and beef stock. Add seasoning, and braise the meat for three hours on a low flame. Then remove the meat and the vegetables from the casserole, break the meat very finely with the hands, add the grated Parmesan cheese, minced vegetables, salt and pepper. Prepare the small tortellini and boil them in salted water for a couple of minutes.

To assemble
Place the tortellini in a deep plate; add the hen consommé and the vegetables ‘brunoise’ together with the hen meat. Garnish with chopped chives and extra virgin olive oil.

Chef Andrea:
‘This is a traditional dish in Italy on December 25, because on Christmas Eve we don’t eat any meat. On Christmas Day we meet all the family – grandmama, grandpapa, and everybody together. Grandmama or Mama will prepare the tortellini in a big ceramic pot in the middle of the table. It’s really traditional for us. We also have a small appetiser of parma ham, a little bit of classic mozzarella with tomato, then the tortellini soup, and then the main course of roast turkey with potatoes. For dessert we have Italian panettone. This is all from the north of Italy – in the south they eat fish, and maybe pork feet with mashed potatoes and lentils. We drink Prosecco, and then we start to play games. It’s a long day – and we eat all the way through it! It’s really fun – classic Italian.’

3 German roasted Christmas duck with red cabbage and homemade potato dumplings

Uwe Quosdorf


Hofbrauhas, JW Marriott Hotel (04 607 7977)

For the duck
1kg whole duck
260g red cabbage
200g potato dumpling
200g fresh orange
200g onion
90g carrots
8g salt
2g mugwort
75ml Brown sauce

For the red cabbage
250g red cabbage
30g red wine port
25g apple
20g onion
20g duck fat
10g cranberry jelly
10g red wine vinegar
10g sugar
5g black peppercorns
5g salt
1g bay leaves

For the potato dumplings
250g potatoes
30g cornflower
2g salt
1 egg yolk
1 Bretzel (or pretzel) German bread

Marinate the raw duck over night with oranges cut in half, nutmeg and root vegetables. Add salt to the duck, and then roast the whole duck with root vegetables for 65 minutes at 180°C. Make sure that the duck is tender.

Marinate the red cabbage with red wine, salt, pepper, vinegar, cranberry jelly and sugar over 12 hours. Sauté the onions in duck fat. Add the red cabbage and the marinade as well as some bay leaves, and then cook the mixture until the red cabbage is soft. Peel the apple, cut it into segments, and then cook it together with the red cabbage. It’s perfect when it has a nice sweet/sour flavour.

Take one pretzel, break it up and and mix it together with milk and the seasonings. Sauté the onion cubes and mix it into the dough. Roll out the Bretzel dough dumplings and poach them in hot water. Reheat some whipping cream and mix in some sweet mustard (for the sauce).

Chef Uwe:
‘In Germany people like to eat duck or goose at Christmas. They start to prepare it on Christmas Eve and they eat it on Christmas Day. That’s because the duck has to marinate, the flavours have to sink i n. We light candles on the first Sunday of advent, and a candle on the other three Sundays leading up to Christmas. We’ll get together with the family and drink punch or wine, while the children eat cookies together. We also have a Christmas market with stalls, candles, a huge Christmas tree and lots of glühwein (mulled wine) – then everybody feels like Christmas is here. But some people still have to rush to buy their presents – I am one of them, I am sorry! On Christmas day, some people eat rabbit or pheasant, but the duck is very traditional. Afterwards they eat stollen cake or cookies with cinnamon and sugar – the children help the mums and grandmas with the baking. Have a Merry Christmas – ho ho ho!’

4 Mini mince pies

Paul Lupton

United Kingdom

Rhodes Mezzanine, Grosvenor House (04 399 8888)

Puff pastry – rolled thinly (pre-rolled can also be used)
Egg yolk wash for brushing
Caster sugar to finish

Mince pies method
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 (200°C/ 400°F), though a convection oven will only need to be heated to 180°C (350°F). Cut the pastry into disks (approximately 8-9” in diameter), spooning a generous teaspoon of mincemeat towards one half. Egg wash the border and fold over with the remaining pastry, creating an ‘apple turnover’ shape. Press the egg-washed pastry edge together before trimming with a slightly smaller cutter to leave a neat finish. Chill before brushing with egg-wash on top and bake for 12-15 minutes (possibly 20 minutes) until golden brown and crispy. If using caster sugar, sprinkle the pies five minutes before the completion of cooking time. Note: The pies are best served warm simply by reheating in the oven.

Rhodes homemade mincemeat

(for approximately 2.75kg (6lb) of mincemeat)
450g Bramley apples, cored and finely chopped (no need to peel)
350g raisins
350g soft dark brown sugar
225g sultanas
225g currants
225g shredded suet
225g whole mixed candied peel, finely chopped
50g whole Almonds, cut into slivers
6 tablespoons brandy
4 teaspoons ground mixed spiced
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
nutmeg, grated
Grated rind and juice of 2 oranges
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons

Mix all the ingredients, except for the brandy, together in a large bowl very thoroughly. Cover with a cloth and leave for 12 hours. Pre-heat the oven to 120°C/225°F/Gas mark ¼ and put the mincemeat inside, loosely covered with foil, for three hours. This process slowly melts the suet, which coats the rest of the ingredients. Allow the mix to get cold, stir in the brandy and spoon the mixture into clean dry jars. Cover with waxed discs, then seal. Note: A good quality pre-prepared jar of mincemeat can be used. For a vegetarian alternative, use vegetarian suet, which is great way to appeal to all palates.

Chef Paul
‘Mince pies are the essence of a British Christmas. They take me back to my childhood. The traditional Christmas day in Britain means the whole family sits around the table and has a large Christmas meal. In the afternoon, we all sit back in the living room, and have a cup of tea and a plate of mince pies. Maybe we’ll watch the Queen’s speech on the telly, or Only Fools And Horses and maybe a James Bond movie later on. We usually do scones as petit fours at Mezzanine, but these small mince pies are to replace them over Christmas. If you can’t find Bramley apples over here, use Granny Smith’s instead.’

5 Puto Bumbong

Danny Blancaflor


Chikka Grill, Marco Polo Hotel (04 272 0000)

Serves 6-8 people
1 cup glutinous rice
2 teaspoon purple food color (yam)
2 cups water
Panutsa (pressed dried brown sugar)

Soak the glutinous rice in water overnight. Grind the soaked rice. Mix the food colouring while the glutinous rice is being ground. Wrap the ground glutinous rice in a piece of muslin cloth; place it in a strainer to drain excess liquid and squeeze. Once the ground rice has slightly dried, grate it to produce coarse grained rice flour. The rice flour for making puto bumbong is now ready to cook. Fill each bamboo tube (bumbong) with just enough glutinous rice and put them into the steamer full of boiling water. Steam the bamboo tubes for 10 minutes. Once cooked, shake out the contents of each bamboo tube or remove the cooked glutinous rice from the bumbong with the help of a knife. Spread butter on the puto bumbong and place a small piece of panutsa (pressed dried brown sugar) on top. Add a small amount of grated coconut before serving.

Chikka Grill Restaurant Manager, Eric Lapadar
‘This is a traditional dish at Christmas in the Philippines. It is associated with Simbang Gabi, the dawn mass, which happens on the nine days before Christmas. After mass, all the people either go to roadside stalls or small restaurants for the puto bumbong. It’s not the easiest thing to cook at home, so people have it outdoors or in restaurants. In our restaurant, we also serve ‘bibingka’, which is a Christmas cake unique to the Philippines, so we can feel like it’s a traditional Christmas.’

6 Turkey kebab with Brussels sprouts

Saurabh Malhotra


Options by Sanjeev Kapoor, Convention Tower (04 329 3293)

500g turkey breast
6-7 new potatoes
4 Brussels sprouts
1 green chili
1 whole carrot
100g cheese
100g yoghurt
75ml fresh cream
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
Chat masala to sprinkle
1 leaf chandi varq
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tablespoon cranberry sauce
½ teaspoon white pepper

Turkey marinade
Ginger and garlic paste
Cardoman powder
Indian cottage cheese
Fresh cream
Fresh yogurt

Melt the cheese and combine with yogurt, cream and chilli. Mix with the remaining ingredients and marinate the turkey in the fridge for two hours. Once fully marinated, cook the turkey in the tandoor for 10-15 minutes. Slice the carrots and blanch them with salt. Place the potatoes and Brussels sprouts on skewers and cook then in the tandoor. Baste occasionally until the potatoes are golden brown. Sautee all the vegetables with a knob of butter.

Serve piping hot, sprinkled with chat masala, topped with chandi warq and garnished with tandoori Brussels sprouts, tandoori potatoes and carrots. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with cranberry sauce for the final touch.

Chef Malhotra
‘Christmas is all about turkey, so I created a turkey dish with an Indian touch. I did a fusion dish. It’s an original creation; I haven’t copied it from anywhere else. Turkey is not traditionally Indian, we use more chicken, but I decided to make this to suit those with a turkey taste. There are so many states in India that every region eats something different at Christmas. This dish is ideally cooked in the tandoor but it can be cooked in a conventional oven also. Just put it on a baking tray with silver foil, cook it at 170°C and baste it occasionally. I also have more Christmas dishes on the menu at Options – including turkey chaat, turkey salamis and butter turkey. From soups to salads to main courses, I have a turkey dish for each!’

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