a curried christmas


day nineteen :: guest post :: a curried christmas and tidings of great joy

LC makes hats (in which my baby looks adorable) and scarves and other pretty things.  She is also a beautiful writer; she is beautiful, she’s a writer, and her writing is beautiful.  She lives with her handsome bearded husband in Oklahoma and I have the privilege of calling her my friend.  You can find her here.

Grab a cup of tea and a cozy chair and enjoy her Christmas tale.  And then have her Curried Shepherd’s Pie!

A Curried Christmas

Zip back a few years and a few thousand miles from our home in Oklahoma~


It was a chilly, starry night. Fifty-five degrees in a cement house necessitates a fire. We enjoyed its warmth, accompanied by a twinkling Christmas tree, familiar tunes,and hot cocoa. Family gathered; expectant, merry. Huddled under blankets, yet somehow still able to play a card game. Elephant-shaped sugar cookies devoured after a dinner of spicy curry and rice eaten with our fingers. If you didn’t look beyond this sight, you might think that everyone around us was also anticipating the coming of December 25th. But alas, the world outside our home here in rural Bangladesh looked no different than any other chilly winter night.

There were no bows or lights adorning the local shops. There were no “Season’s Greetings” decking the halls of schools. No holiday vacations either. School and work continued as usual.

Yet this picture harkens back to what must have been a similar scene in the little town of Bethlehem—a chilly winter’s eve so long ago when God came to earth as a helpless babe born in a stable. Cows mooed and chewed in the mud-washed stable across the street from my house. The crowded bazaar, people bundled in hats and scarves, passing by unaware of that first noel. The local guards huddled around the fire to keep warm under the bright stars. Nothing out of the ordinary.

But we celebrated amidst the ordinary. We marveled at that ordinary night invaded by a miraculous event so long ago. It was an unusual Christmas, so far from home. But oh so full of joy.

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Today, back in ‘frigid’ 40-degree OK winter, the scene is a bit different. Trees and porches shimmer with colorful lights. Cars and trucks wear green wreaths and red bows. Days off work and school are just around the corner. Jingle bells ring everywhere. It’s merriment at every turn, and I love it!

But then again, it’s not so different. Bustling streets and highways with hurried and harried passersby. Life and traditions continue as usual. Yet, my to-do list just keeps growing as the day approaches. Yarn adorns my house, my fingers busily crocheting up until December 25th. A little weariness due to merriment is just part of the scene.

But the joy of the season is unbridled by busyness. It is unmoved by unaware passersby. Certainly, thankfully, this joy is not lessoned by failed expectations or forgotten presents. And that is the gift of Christmas. Joy unchanged by time or place.

Because Joy is a baby born in a stable.

So here’s to joy in ordinary days and seasonal traditions. Joy amidst the craziness,the merriment, and even the sadness. Tidings of great joy to you and yours!

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For more comfort and joy, here is a twist on an old tradition—Shepherd’s pie meets curry and sweet potatoes! Don’t knock it ‘til you try it. My handsome shepherd ate it up. So much for leftovers!!

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Curried Shepherd’s Pie

{adapted from Complete Curry Guide by Byron Ayanoglu and Jennifer MacKenzie}

350 degree oven
9 by 9 inch pan, greased
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
½ t garam masala
¼ t ground ginger
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of coriander
*adjust spices to your liking!
1 hot green or red chile, minced (or a pinch of red pepper flakes)
1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes, with juice
¼ cup golden raisins or chopped dried apricots
1-2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 T fresh cilantro
1 T butter, melted
handful of sliced almonds

1. Cook sweet potatoes til tender {Roast with skin on; peel and boil; microwave; etc. Whatever suits your fancy!}. Mash or blend in food processor with cinnamon, salt, egg, cilantro, and lemon juice. Set aside.
2. In a large skillet over high heat, brown ground beef, onions, garlic, and spices until beef is no longer pink and onions are softened (about 10 minutes). Add chili peppers and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
3. Add tomatoes, raisins, and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed (about 15 minutes).
4. Spread beef mixture in prepared pan. Spread sweet potato topping evenly over beef.
5. Drizzle melted butter and sprinkle with almonds.
6. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until meat is heated through and topping is slightly puffed and brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

*To make ahead, cool meat and topping completely. Assemble in baking dish without butter and almonds. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Drizzle with melted butter and bake for 1 hour, covering dish loosely with foil if topping begins to brown too much. Sprinkle almonds on top for the last 15 minutes.


One thought on “a curried christmas

  1. Pingback: merry christmas | chuck and welly

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