- 17 Sep 2015
- Maria John
There’s nothing like the traditional Christmas cake, the making of which is no quick and easy task. Casino Hotel from CGH Earth had started their preparations in the month of February and the Cake mixing a few months afterwards. This cake-mixing ceremony spread the warmth of the festive season with a few of their patrons gathered on this occasion to part-take in the same. The mixing ceremony, a part of an age-old Christmas tradition, is of Anglo Saxon Culture and has been with us since the beginning of time. The Casino Hotel's Christmas cakes are always made in advance. Afghani black raisins handpicked during the initial part of the year are cleaned, washed and dried with utmost care; the fruits are then stewed for an approximate of 15 – 20 minutes with honey, lemon juice, lemon rind, candied lemon peel, and candied ginger peel. The stewing is done in a traditional 'Varp' measuring 122 cm dia and weighing 150 Kilos, ideal for stewing /slow cooking. This is how the fruit matures and develops the honeyed nectar or liqueur inside of the raisins that makes the cake plumy and juicy.
To celebrate over three decades of the Mattanchere Spice Cake which is always a Xmas staple for Kochiites, Casino Hotel decided to open the ceremony to its patrons for the first time. A huge stainless steal table revealed a mount of glistening black grapes and the air smelled of Xmas - fruits, wine and spices in a heady concoction. Chef Jose Varkey's energy was infectious as everyone donned the crisp white aprons and pulled over plastic sleeves over their elbows. Glass flasks of wine was poured over the mixture along with aromatic nutmeg powder. Everyone dug into the mixture and followed the chef's lead to mix the fruits. Just like ageing wine, the longer the fruits can be matured, explained Chef Jose Varkey, the more delicious the cake will be. Surprisingly mixing wasn't as easy as many thought. It was sticky, heavy and thankfully a sweet mess. The aroma of the wine and spices wafted up your nose as your hands worked to mix it all up. As patrons took turns to take part, the conversations flowed freely over the tea time spread. The staff soon took over and continued the age old tradition of making Xmas cakes.
The finest ingredients are put together in hygienic conditions at the hotel's central kitchen. What’s most interesting is that this moist and dense cake has a high ratio of fruit which means, no extra sugar is used in the making. It’s quite fascinating how Chef Jose Varkey talks about this creation and how the Matured Plum Cake has evolved over the years. Chef Jose has been with Casino Hotel for over 3 decades and his passion in even the minutest detail ensures that they achieve consistent quality and flavor, every time. He says that it is most satisfying to bake a batch of this rich plum cake. The kitchen buzzing with activity and the smells wafting around, all spell Christmas cheer. The Matured Plum Cake is a Casino Hotel tradition, one which has been handed over generations.