Holiday foods from around the world

market spices

With Christmas just around the corner, thoughts naturally turn to turkey. And while a traditional Christmas feast is a highlight of the season for those who celebrate the holiday, we thought we’d provide some multicultural inspiration to brighten up those dark days and liven up your palate. Here are five winter celebration dishes from around the world.

Rabanada – Brazil

A Latin take on French toast, Brazilians love to eat this sweet treat at Christmas, and you will, too. Crispy, sugary cinnamon coats the outside, while the centre is custard-soft. Unlike traditional French toast recipes, rabanada uses both milk and sweetened condensed milk to make the custard, which takes the edge off that eggy flavour some people (okay one Mosaic Times editor) hate. Once fried, the toast is immediately coated in a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Eat immediately – not that we could stop you if we tried.

Doro Wat – Ethiopia

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church observes Christmas on January 7, after a forty-day period of vegan fasting. The traditional dish served for the Christmas day feast is a special doro wat, a rich, meaty stew. Unlike the doro wat made during the rest of the year, the traditional Christmas one is made with rooster rather than hen, and the meat is cut into exactly twelve pieces to represent the twelve disciples. Twelve hard boiled eggs are also added, said to represent eternity. The sauce can take up to five hours to prepare and simmer, making this dish extra special, and worth the wait.

Tteokguk – South Korea

While only thirty per cent of South Koreans celebrate Christmas, Seollal, the Korean New Year in late January or early February is the country’s big winter celebration. This simple but delicious rice cake (tteok) soup (guk) has a clear broth with thinly sliced rice cakes, and slivered eggs, meat or seaweed for garnish. It is said to grant you good luck for the coming year, and is also a warm and filling dish, perfect for the remaining weeks of winter.

Murmura Laddu – India

These sweet, crispy puffed rice treats are served during the festival of Lohri in the Punjab region of India. Unlike the crispy cereal treats familiar to many anglo Canadians, murmura laddu use melted jaggery (a type of cane sugar produced by cane juice and date or palm sap) as a binder instead of marshmallows.

Pancit Malabon – Philippines

While not strictly a Christmas dish, these yellow noodles, flavoured with annatto seeds, often make an appearance as part of the Christmas spread. Mixed with shrimp, eggs and chicharón, a plate of pancit malabon will keep you full – at least until the Christmas ham is ready.


While this is a good start to highlighting the diversity of Canadians’ holiday treats, we know this isn’t an exhaustive list – of food or festivities. What holiday foods grace your table during the great Canadian winters?