Add twists to holiday favourites | Daily News

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Add twists to holiday favourites

The world is embracing a different way of celebrating Christmas, with more opting to stay at home and host high-end dinners amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of dining out at upscale restaurants, people can now enjoy fancy cuisine at home. Take some cues from Dhayanie Williams aka Dee - Food Ambassador, Media Personality, and Season 11 MasterChef Australia Contestant. She is well know for whipping up scrumptious dishes in her Youtube channel series ‘Dee-Licious’.

Growing up in Sri Lanka, Christmas for Dhayanie is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus with immediate family, extended family, and neighbors. As a child she loved to go home from boarding school during Christmas holidays as her mum would have so many different sweets, cakes and Christmas goodies made up.

“I loved decorating the Christmas tree and decorating the house, it brought me so much joy! On Christmas eve it is a tradition to go to neighbours’ houses and handover a plate of Christmas goodies. As a family we all attend Christmas midnight mass and wore new clothes. On Christmas day my Mum would make Milk Rice and Lunu Miris as a traditional breakfast and other goodies. Then she followed it by a special lunch and dinner. After lunch we all have a nap then play some games and watch movies. It is the most fun time of the whole year,” she recalled some of the treasured memories from her childhood.

Now in Australia Dhayanie has been celebrating Christmas with her in-laws. It is similar to what she does in Sri Lanka. Instead of her mum making everything, she take turns with her mother-in-law in making Christmas dinner. They will alternate every second year. There is lots of food, cocktails, present, games etc.

“Food plays a big part on Christmas. People around the world will often have 3-4 course meal, buffet style, cocktail style (finger food) to name a few on Christmas day. Food brings everyone together and most of the time Christmas is celebrated by non-believers too. It brings a community together to celebrate hope, joy, love, and peace. In the western world they traditionally have ham, turkey, roast lamb and roast vegetables. Growing up in Sri Lanka my mum would make yellow rice, mutton curry, beans curry, potato fry and eggplant moju,” she said.

Asked if there are some food which we cannot do without and Dhayanie notes that Breudher, Love Cake, Christmas Cake, Eggnog, Yule Llog, Panettone, Stollen Bread, Gingerbread cookies, and short bread cookies are essential items in the festive menu.

“Some may make it couple of times of the year when they crave for this kind of food like me but sometimes ingredients that are used for some special Christmas dishes are only available during December,” she pointed out.

The coronavirus pandemic has effected many occasions around the world - not only Christmas. Online Christmas shopping became even more popular as people were less reluctant to be among crowded supermarkets. Also, the pandemic had put a stop to travelling to see the families and going for holidays during this season.

Restaurants, catering organizations and homebased food businesses are very cautions in handling food. Small things like washing and sanitizing hands, wearing masks, sanitizing the premises and QR code scanning, these things had to be taken even more seriously to stop spreading the virus to others. Also, limiting the numbers on Christmas gatherings especially when the event is held indoors, these are some of the best practices that we can follow to help the communities,” she explained.

She says that though families are hosting small scale Christmas meals this year, she would advice them to make the traditional Christmas dishes.

“I normally check with the invitees to see what they would like to eat and design the menu according to their preference. It is always best to have some canapes or finger foods to start the lunch or dinner along with wines, cocktails and mocktails. Then it is better to serve the mains either a buffet style or plated dish. I personally prefer buffet style. It is easy because you can spread all the dishes and the guests can help themselves. It is always better to have one type of seafood dish, a meat, or a chicken dish along with couple of sides (salads and vegetables) sauces and pickles. If it is a Sri Lankan style feast, you can arrange a similar format as well. But it is always better to have some varieties for special dietary guests, so no one is left out. Then you can either serve the dessert buffet style or plated. I prefer to have it plated because after canapes, drinks, and mains your guests are loaded with food. Make sure to offer them breaks in between meals. Finish off with a cup of coffee or tea of their preference,” she advised.

Dhayanie believes that sometimes it is ok to tweak traditional recipes with a modern twist if it represents the old dish with more flavour and enhances the presentation.

“When you live overseas some of the Sri Lankan ingredients are hard to find. Therefore I try different substitutes and use the closest flavour that I can get to the original dish. For example, when making Christmas cake in Sri Lanka, we use dates as the main fruit instead of raisins, as the cost of raisins is higher than dates. But the taste of the cake is similar. Recently I have created different flavoured Breudhers that I sell to the public, which are; Ceylon Cinnamon flavoured and Nutella infused Breudhers.

There is a demand for it and customers love the different flavours. The traditional Breudher contains sultanas. However, there are customers that are willing to try different flavours,” she said.

The festive season calls for rich and indulgent foods but if you are someone who is health conscious or have special dietary requirements, there are plenty of recipes on the internet and there are bloggers on social media who create recipes for people who are vegan/vegetarian, gluten intolerant and celiac disease. So, if you prefer to avoid or reduce sugar and high carbohydrates there are substitutes available. For example, instead of using refined white sugar, you can use Rapadura Sugar for your cooking needs,” Dhayanie said adding that housewives can replicate some dishes like stuffed turkey and make stuffed pumpkin if you are a vegetarian.

“There are so many different simple dishes and drinks that we can make at home. If there are any fruits like mangos, watermelon, or pineapple these can be made into fresh drinks or smoothies for guests. It is a great way to use fruits like berries, mangoes, pineapple in mocktail with some fizzy drinks, lime, and some mint. The same fruits can be added onto the cocktail with your favorite alcohol. These drinks go well with your main dishes, as well as canapes. Fruit punch is very popular during Christmas season. Add your favorite fruits into orange juice or mango juice with some fresh mint,” she said.

It is always good to make something very easy with limited ingredients if an unexpected guest turns up.

“We all will have some onions and tomatoes in the house all the time. Onion Baji will be a great snack or a canape for guests. Another great snack can be Aloo Bonda. Potatoes are an essential ingredient in most households, so it can be made easily. Also, another way to impress your guests can be lightly battered vegetable fries (popcorn cauliflower, fried oyster mushrooms, fried broccoli) or the famous Sri Lankan snacks like fish cutlets, pan rolls or fish patties. These can be done ahead and frozen for a couple of months. On the other hand, you can have some crackers, dips, and some cured meats handy during this season and it goes along way and your guests will love these nibbles with some alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages too,” Dhayanie said adding that another favourite quick fix is Bruschetta – tomatoes, onions, and basil mixed with salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar and served on a grilled piece of bread.

Spiced fried chicken wings with some BBQ sauce or tomato sauce is a popular crowd pleaser. Spice it with any kind of spices that you have in the pantry then give a quick egg wash and into breadcrumbs and deep fried. This is super simple bursting with flavours.

Dhayanie has come a long way from the time she first came into the limelight. She has released her own product range titled ‘Dee-Licious Signature Spices’ which includes Sri Lankan spices and a flavoured nut range that includes Kaju Baduma. She was a judge and mentor for the Sri Lankan cooking show ‘Supreme Chef Season 2’ in 2020.

She also released her first series of ‘My Culinary and Travel Adventure of Sri Lanka’ on my YouTube Channel where she collaborated with Jetwing Hotels.

Joining hands with Drool Experiences and Foodie Trails, Dhayanie she conducts cooking classes online and in person. She is also a food columnist for Living Magazine Sri Lanka and works as a Ambassador for Maggi Sri Lanka.

“We need to remember the true meaning of Christmas which is to help people who are less fortunate, orphans, people who are sick and people who cannot celebrate this amazing occasion.

Let this Christmas bring us all happiness, hope, love, and peace. Spend this great time with family and friends. And of course, don’t forget to feast!” she concluded with a smile.



1 cup of cooked wild rice (use any rice that is available to you)
½ cup of grated carrots
½ red onion chopped
1 clove of garlic grated
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp roasted curry powder
1 tsp roasted chilli powder
¼ cup roasted salted peanuts
¼ cup sultanas
3 tbs of butter (vegan friendly)
Chervil or coriander leaves for garnish


Cook the rice according to the directions on the packet.
Heat the frying pan and add 1 tbs butter and fry the sultanas for about 2 minutes. This will plump up the sultanas.
In the same pan, add the 2 tbs butter and a splash of olive oil, add the chopped onions. Fry the onions until it is soft. Then add the grated garlic and ginger to the frying pan, cook further 2 minutes.
Add the carrots to the pan and cook until the carrots are soft. Then add salt, curry powder and smoked paprika, mix everything together and cook for another 2 minutes.
Then add the cooked wild rice to the pan, stir everything together and re-heat the rice for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the salted peanuts, fried sultanas and spring onions and mix everything together.
Garnish with some coriander leaves and serve warm with your favourite main dish.



Basic Dough
400g plain flour
7.5g dried yeast
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
145ml warm water
145ml milk


In a bowl mix warm water and sugar, once the sugar is dissolved, add the yeast and gently stir and set aside for 10 minutes.
The yeast should begin to form a creamy foam on the surface of the water. Foam means yeast is alive and ready.
Place the flour and salt in a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, then mix the dried ingredients together.
Start adding the active yeast mixture to the flour mixture and start making the dough, while the dough is coming together, slowly add the milk every couple of minutes until the dough is formed.
When you push the dough with your fingers and if the dough springs back that means the dough is ready for resting. At this stage the dough shouldn’t be too wet or dry. It needs to be in a consistency where it is easy to take it off from the stand mixer.
Place it in a glass bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave it in a warm place for an hour to proof.
Once the dough has been rested for an hour, it should have doubled in size and ready to make the Breudher.

Breudher Batter
450g dough
115g sugar
115g butter
115g sultanas
10 egg yolks
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tbs milk

Brush the Bundt cake tin with enough butter and scatter some sultanas on the bottom of the cake tin.
Place the egg yolks in the stand mixer with the whisk attachment, and start whisking the egg yolks, while the egg yolks are getting whisked, break the dough into small pieces and start adding one piece at a time.
Whisk until you have gone through the whole dough and the egg yolk mixture is thick and glossy.
Then add the butter and whisk for another 10 minutes, then add the sugar and whisk for a further 10 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and add half of the sultans into the batter and fold the batter for 5 minutes until everything is well incorporated. Then mix the baking soda with milk and add onto the batter and mix for about 2 minutes.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin, cover with a tea towel, and leave it in a warm place to proof for a second time.
Pre heat the Fan forced oven to 140 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes
Now the batter should have doubled in size, if you see any big air bubbles in the batter, tap the cake tin on top of a tea towel to get rid of any air bubbles.
Dust the remaining sultanas with some plain flour and place on top of the batter. This helps the sultanas to not sink to the bottom.
Bake the Breudher for an hour at 140 degrees Celsius, I have placed the Breudher in the 3rd tray section of the oven.
Once the Breudher is cooked halfway (30 minutes), cover the top with a baking paper to prevent it from burning on the top.
Insert a skewer and check whether the Breudher is cooked all the way through. Then remove from the oven.
Leave it to cool for about 15 minutes.
Then turn the Breudher on a serving platter. Serve with some butter / jams / Edam cheese on the side.



200g baby carrots
250g unsalted butter (Vegan Friendly)
¼ wholegrain mustard
1 tbs Maple Syrup
2 tbs Tarragon
65g chopped dried figs
1 tsp smoke paprika
Salt to taste


Wash and clean the carrots, place it in a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. Place the unsalted butter, wholegrain mustard, honey, smoked paprika, salt, thyme and chopped figs in a bowl. Mix well to combine. Place the mixture in a baking paper and shape into a log. Roll and enclose, twisting the ends to seal and refrigerate for 2 hours or 24 hours. Remove the carrots from the oven, slice 4-5 pieces of the flavoured butter and place it onto the warm carrots and serve.


Blackberries, Coconut and Hazelnuts Meringue Stack

5 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
80g desiccated coconut
330g caster sugar
90g roasted skinless hazelnuts chopped roughly
250g blackberries or blueberries
3 tsp icing sugar
3 tbs toasted coconut pieces

Hazelnut Praline
110g caster sugar
2 tbs water
45g roasted skinless hazelnuts

Mascarpone Cream
2 egg yolks
55g caster sugar
2 tsp Lemon zest (any citrus is fine)
500g mascarpone


Pre heat the oven to 120 degrees Celsius. Make 18cm circle on 4 pieces of baking paper, turn the baking paper marked side down on 4 baking trays.
Beat egg whites & cream of tartar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Slowly add the caster sugar 2tbs at a time, beating after each addition until the sugar is dissolved.
Once the mixture is glossy and firm add the desiccated coconut and chopped hazelnut to the mixture and gently fold everything together.
Spread the mixture evenly among the circles. Bake for an hour or until firm to touch, turn the oven off, leave the oven door ajar and let it cool in the oven overnight or at least 6-8 hours.
Meanwhile to make the hazelnut praline, combine sugar and water in a small saucepan, stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to boil, until the mixture is golden colour. Remove from the heat, stir in the hazelnuts, then pour over a baking paper and let it cool and set. Break the praline into pieces.
To make the mascarpone cream, beat the egg yolks, sugar, and lemon zest with an electric beater until thick and pale. Add the Mascarpone and beat until it is combined or folded until it is combined. Do not over beat as Mascarpone can split. Refrigerate until required.
Remove the meringue stack from the oven and peel off the baking paper, place one meringue layer on a serving plate or a cake stand, spread with mascarpone cream, scatter some praline pieces, place berries and toasted coconut pieces. Repeat layering all 4 Meringue stacks. Finish with another layer of mascarpone cream, blackberries, praline, coconut pieces, edible leaves, and flowers. Dust with sifted icing sugar.



250g Fresh or frozen Raspberries
1 cup of Caster Sugar
4 cups of water
2 tbs Lemon Juice
1.5 Litre sparkling water
Extra Raspberries & Thyme


Combine the raspberries and sugar in medium saucepan with the water. Bring to boil, simmer gently over a low heat for 30 minutes or until reduced to 3 ½ cups. Remove from heat and add lemon juice cool and strain the juice into a large jug and refrigerate for 3 hours or until cold.
Just before serving, add the sparkling mineral water and taste and adjust the flavour according to how much sparkling water that you require.
Serve the lemonade with extra raspberries, ice, and some thyme.



2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp crème fraiche
2 tbsp vodka
3 tsp tomato sauce
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp Tabasco
1 tsp chopped fresh dill
1 cos lettuce, shredded thinly
1 avocado, diced
250g cooked Prawns
Lemon juice or lime juice
Salt & black pepper
Sprig of dill for garnish


To make the sauce, mix the mayonnaise, crème fraiche, vodka, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and tabasco together. Then add the chopped dill and mix well and refrigerate until required.
Mix the shredded lettuce and avocado together, set aside until required Dice some of the prawns and season the cooked prawns with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Leave some prawns without dicing for presentation.
Layer the prawn cocktail in your favourite cocktail glass, layer salad mix on the bottom and then add sauce, then add diced prawns, add some cracked black pepper or pink peppercorn on top, use some whole prawns on the top.
Garnish with dill and serve immediately. 

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