Hindi Language Blog

Kuswar at Christmas Posted by on Dec 22, 2021 in Culture, Food

Tray of Sweets

Photo courtesy: Nicole Herbert Dean

At this time of the year, kitchens in India, are bustling हलचल centers of sweet-making activity called Kuswar. It is Christmas time and for the many Christians and Catholics who make up about 2.5 percent of the population आबादी, it is an exciting time of year. These communities समुदाय prepare food unlike the common food items one sees on menus in India or across the world.

Their recipes have origins and heritage विरासत in the British, Portuguese and Arabic influences. Chorizo – a sausage created by the Portuguese is flavored स्वादिष्ट with Indian peppers and Goan vinegar. Rice garnished सजाया with raisins and nuts as well as fried crispy onions is a recipe handed down from Arabs who traveled to the shores समुद्र का किनारा of the west coast of India.

So also, the sweets and desserts that Goans, Mangaloreans and East Indians eat is different from gulab jamuns or jalebis. Most of the sweets are homemade घर का बना. Only recently have stores started selling these delicacies commerciallyव्यावसायिक रूप से.

So, what are these sweets? When we talk about sweets, it refers to cookies, sweet coconut नारियल squares, cakes, marzipan बादाम का मीठा हलुआ treats and chocolate goodies. Many Indian Christians who have Portuguese, or Anglo heritage engage in the tradition of Kuswar. This includes the East Indians (natives of Maharashtra), Goans and Mangaloreans.

So, what is Kuswar?

It is a tradition of sweet-making among the Christian community. The 400 years of Portuguese rule and added 250 years of British rule brought some beneficial cultural food. Indians took those cultures and made it their own. So, the figgy pudding was transformed into the fruit cake. Snowball or Christmas cookies transformed into nankhatais. And of course add marzipan, milk toffee and date and walnut bars.

Preparations start at the beginning of december when families buy flour आटा, semolina सूजी, dried fruit सूखे फल and nuts काष्ठफल, sugar, butter or ghee. The local baniya or dry grocer is busy at this time filling in the orders for all these products. He would then send his staff in all directions to deliver the ingredients.

Kuswar making is usually in the evening after the work day is done. People gather around the kitchen table and begin rolling out the kulkuls or soaking the dry fruit in rum for the Christmas cake. Women sit around the table and make these sweets exchanging stories with wonderful Christmas music playing in the background.

A favorite is Kulkuls. Kulkuls look like little pasta shells except they are sweetened with semolina, vanilla essence and sugar – and deep fried. Another Portuguese legacy is nevryo  sweet puff pastries with a stuffing of coconut, raisins and brown sugar.

Recipe for Sweet puffs or Nevryo


  • 1 kg All purpose flour
  • 100 gm Cashew Nuts काजू
  • ½ cup Gingelly तिल
  • 100 gms of almonds बादाम, raisins किशमिश and pistachio पिस्ता each
  • 3 cups dessicated coconut
  • ½ tbsp of cardamom इलायची powder
  • ¼ tsp of nutmeg जायफल powder
  • 1 ½ cup of powdered sugar चीनी
  • 3 tbsp of butter मक्खन
  • Salt नमक to taste


Heatगरम करें the butter and fry the gingelly, raisins and other nuts until golden brown. Roast भूननाdesiccated coconut with no oil. Mix एक साथ मिलाओ coconut, nuts, cardamom powder, powdered sugar, salt and nutmeg powder, and mix properly. Mix flour with some water and salt, knead properly and make a hard dough. Roll out the dough into circles. Add the filling in the middle of each circle, moisten the edges, fold them and press. Deep fry गहरे तलना a few at a time in oil.


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About the Author: Nicole Herbert Dean

Language, Region and Culture Consultant to the Department of Defense and United States Military.