Malaika Arora: 'As a good Catholic girl, I wait for Christmas with a heart brimming with excitement'

Malaika Arora: 'As a good Catholic girl, I wait for Christmas with a heart brimming with excitement'

For the actress-dancer, Christmas celebrations are full of traditions, family togetherness and of course, her mother’s feast that includes famous wine mutton and stew and appam

Dr Ramachandran SrinivasanUpdated: Saturday, December 23, 2023, 10:43 PM IST
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Malaika Arora, daughter of a Catholic mother and a Hindu father, has been celebrating Christmas for many years now. Christmas for her, like many others, brings in a lot of good cheer and of course food as well. “Whipped cream frosting spattered on my nose, is a testament to countless Christmases spent baking with Mom. Now, the scent of her gingerbread fills her house; that is the annual beacon that draws our whole family home for another festive feast,” says Malaika.

“Forget the traditional Christmas fare, my family feasts on appams and stew — a quirky twist that kicks off our annual festivities,” she adds. But the real attraction is her mom, Joyce’s, legendary wine mutton, marinated to perfection a day prior. The aroma of the mutton, when put on table, is a siren song calling the family to the table.

Malaika awaits the festival every year like a good Catholic. “Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without indulging in my sweet trinity — marzipan’s delicate almondy touch, Christmas cake’s boozy fruitcake symphony, and the pure, creamy bliss of pudding,” says the hot but humble star. “Two slices of the cake and my head starts humming carols, fuelled by the festive spirits within. But the true star of the show is our home-made stuffed turkey, its golden skin glistening under the lights, its aroma is a warm hug in itself. Cranberry sauce, tart and vibrant, paints the perfect counterpoint to the richness of the meat,” says Malaika nearly drooling as she talks. “Carving it is a family ritual my son, Arhaan, wouldn’t trade for the world. The glint in his eyes as he wields the knife, the triumphant grin as he presents the first slice — that’s the real magic of Christmas,” she adds.

It is not just the food, but the festivities, the family, the decoration, the gifts that have always been an inviting factor. “Every December, anticipation crackles in the air like the tiny sparks dancing on our Christmas lights. It’s that time again, the time when our home transforms into a wonderland of twinkling baubles, shimmering tinsel, and the sweet aroma of baking spices,” Malaika shares.

“As a good Catholic girl, I wait for Christmas with a heart brimming with excitement. It’s a tradition passed down from generations, a tapestry woven with twinkling lights, home-made sweets, and the joy of unwrapping gifts under the twinkling tree,” she reminisces.

“One of my fondest memories is helping Mom (Joyce Arora, the queen of Christmas cookies) whip up batches of delectable kalkals, their golden sweetness a promise of festive cheer. Guava cheese, its tangy bite a delightful contrast, and milk cream, smooth and creamy, were our Christmas culinary masterpieces. We’d work side-by-side, flour dusting our faces like happy snow, laughter bubbling like the simmering pots on the stove. Another thrill was midnight mass,” she remembers.

“My mom still follows the tradition of having a large, tastefully adorned Christmas tree. All of us partake in the decoration. Our entire family converges after the midnight mass and we have the traditional plum cake and wine. We are used to spending the night at mom’s home, waking up and opening the presents in the morning. Later in the day, we have a traditional Christmas lunch. Everyone looks forward to it because mom is a fabulous cook. My sister Amu (Amrita Arora) and I do not plan the food. Only mom does. From the stuffed turkey to the classic gravies, roast chicken, fish and meat and desserts, it is a real feast. Add to that everybody brings a special dish,” she says. “Christmas brings out the child in me,” she smiles gleefully.

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