|Consoad: Bolcoke, marzipan, rose cookies, kulkuls… The tray of Christmas goodies shared by the Anglo-Indian neighborhood in Kerala’s Fort Kochi|
Faylene and Godfrey Lobo’s home in Vypin is Christmas-ready, effectively virtually. The Christmas tree must wait till the painters are finished with the upkeep. It is normally as much as coincide with Advent. Faylene has nevertheless began work on the confections and savouries that will probably be a part of the consoad. While in Portugal it refers to Christmas Eve dinner; in Fort Kochi and Vypin, nevertheless, it’s the tray of selfmade goodies that was despatched to family and friends, normally on Christmas Eve. Faylene hails from Vypin which, as soon as upon a time, had a sizeable Anglo-Indian [primarily Luso-Indian or of Portuguese ancestry] neighborhood.
For the 60-year-old work begins within the first week of December when she begins making every merchandise that goes into the consoad. The entire level is making every little thing at dwelling and sharing, “it’s a time of giving and reconciliation, of maintaining the spirit of Christmas alive.” She sees 20-odd days of labor — making every merchandise — at dwelling as carrying ahead a Christmas custom handed down from her mom and mother-in-law.
A tray fantastically organized with deep-fried, sugar-coated swirly kulkul, diamond cuts, the curiously-named coconut and semolina confection ‘matrimony’, achappam’s cousin rose cookies (or rosettes), fried doughnuts, marzipan, banana chips (often known as patticums), Kochi’s model of bebinca, slices of plum cake together with different eats lined with a fragile lace doily or crocheted material was despatched to houses of household, associates and neighbours, a few of who could be from different communities. Many candy, some savoury — the consoad appears to symbolise life with its joys and sorrows.
Labour of affection
Listening to Faylene it’s evident that, for her, making ready the consoad is a labour of affection. Every 12 months she has been dwelling she has ensured that the consoad goes out from her home. They needed to give it a miss final 12 months as they had been travelling. “There have been years once I despatched out 22 trays. It has now come all the way down to 10-12; many from the neighborhood have migrated. There are only a few of us left now,” she says. Changing occasions and life, together with COVID-19 have ensured that there are only a few individuals who ship out these.
Trinkets in a Christmas pudding
Godfrey Lobo remembers an aunt who would disguise trinkets within the conventional Christmas pudding for the youngsters to seek out. “Buried in every slice could be a tiny sliver trinket, which we children could be excited to seek out. And if certainly one of us didn’t discover something, she would slip one into our palms in order that no youngster went dwelling upset.”
Denzel Bayer, vp of the All India Anglo-Indian Association, remembers saucers/half plates loaded with these going out from his dwelling. “A home assist could be despatched to present these, she could be given a bakshish and typically, a return consoad. Not many individuals do it now,” he says. If there was a younger youngster at dwelling, they might additionally tag alongside. There was no normal listing of things for the consoad, solely that it was all selfmade. Influences meld within the consoad — Portuguese, Dutch, English and naturally, the native.
Versions of consoad exist throughout areas in India colonised by the Portuguese. In Goa, it is named consoada shared with grieving households that might not have fun Christmas. Consoad derives from the Portuguese phrase consolar, which suggests to console. In the Konkan area, it goes by kuswar or koswad, a spinoff of consoad, which had 22 gadgets reminiscent of chakli and laddoos too.
The idea and elements of the consoad have been tailored to the area it belongs to. For occasion, the Fort Kochi-Vypin model makes use of coconut, jaggery, spices, rice flour, and nendran pazham (the Kerala plantain) in lots of snacks. The bebinca made right here differs from the layered Goan model which is product of custard of egg yolks, coconut milk, flour, sugar and spices. Not solely does the Kerala model use rice flour, boiled and mashed nendran pazham with entire eggs, however it additionally will not be layered. It is extra just like the Kerala halwa.
Gurugram-based sexagenarian Crescentia Scolt Fernandes, who hails from Kochi, remembers what her older sister informed her about muffins and bebinca being baked at dwelling by their grandmother greater than 80 years in the past. “The utensil could be positioned in an uruli stuffed with sand, then positioned on a wood-fired conventional range. Heat could be given from the highest as effectively. She used to pour the cake batter into egg shells positioned within the sand the place they might bake slowly. Like tiny cupcakes!” Now a house chef who specialises in Goan delicacies, Crescentia used to run a preferred Goan restaurant Bernardo’s in Delhi.
A slice of Kerala, soaked in jaggery
Nendran pazham or Kerala plantain sliced length-wise in spiced jaggery syrup is a particular made solely in Kerala. Faylene says. “The Kerala plantain is out there solely right here, maybe that’s the reason.” Lightly steamed plantain in skinny, spiced (star anise, cinnamon, clove) jaggery syrup is a dish attributed to the Dutch, she says. It is just like the nendranpazham nurukku, product of jaggery and Kerala plantain.
She speaks of bolcoke, a cake made throughout Christmas. Semolina and coconut had been the first substances making it a considerably crumbly affair. Over time improvisation contains including flour to the combination, “I’ve tweaked the proportion of semolina and flour to get the fitting consistency,” says Crescentia. It is known as baath in Goa.
Bolcoke because the Goan bolo de coco is known as in Fort Kochi is certainly crumbly, not like a daily cake, it’s textured. It is a part of Faylene’s consoad tray, which may have round 20 gadgets, together with two sorts of Christmas cake. This 12 months’s addition is angel wings, a candy, crisp pastry of twisted ribbons. She has added Goan specials reminiscent of perada, a guava cheese, which we don’t discover in Kerala. She is but to start out on the coconut-based sweets, which she is going to make nearer to Christmas. This 12 months she has accepted just a few orders for consoad, which suggests she will probably be making bigger portions.
The consoads coming in are additionally fewer. The work of placing collectively a consoad will not be simple, with out assist it’s much more troublesome. “And clearly individuals don’t wish to ship store-bought goodies,” says Godfrey, who retired from the service provider navy and is now entrusted with the obligation of delivering the consoad.
Migration has left fewer individuals in the neighborhood to share the consoad with, however it’s a custom that Faylene is assured will stay on. Her daughters-in-law have each learnt from her and have been making and sharing consoad, she is optimistic that the custom is not going to die, but!