A glimpse into the perfect Christmas banquet party

Ghada Abdel-Kader , Sunday 16 Dec 2018

Plan an impressive Christmas dinner with tips and recipes from Chef Ghada El-Tally

Ghada El-Tally   Photo: Kareem Nour
Ghada El-Tally Photo: Kareem Nour

Famous Jordanian-Egyptian Chef Ghada El-Tally is a well-known figure on the Arab cuisine scene. A professional cake decorator and designer, she has been in the culinary field for more than 12 years.  

El-Tally is a popular media chef whose first programme was on Ro'ya TV channel in Jordan.

Her famous Egyptian programme ‘Zaafran W Vanilla’ (Saffron and Vanilla) on CBC Sofra channel was the most highly rated cooking show. A publisher of two cook books, she studied for one year at the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts - Les Roches in Amman, Jordan.

El-Tally remembers the beginning, telling Ahram Online that “at one point in time, there was no special academy that offered classes for patisserie and cake decoration arts. I taught myself from books and the internet.” She later established her centre for culinary arts and cake decoration in Amman, Jordan.

El-Tally gives some tips to help readers plan and organise successful Christmas banquets or parties.

Tally stresses that a food menu should have a wide range of choices to satisfy all your guests’ tastes. She adds that the best way to make a menu is to take two or three days to write down all dishes and recipes that come to mind. After that, look through it and add or remove items. Then, create a final menu for all food and drinks.

She says that it is preferable for your menu to include meat, poultry and fish dishes as a main course. At least one dish of each kind.

El-Tally advises that the menu should include one or two kinds of appetizers, one of each of the following: soup, salad, vegetables, and two different kinds of juice.

Concerning dessert, she recommends either one big dish of dessert in a large serving bowl or having desserts (two or three recipes) on a menu.

“It is better to include one chocolate dessert recipe. Also, keep in mind that your guests will usually bring desserts as a gift.”  

If there are children among your guests, the hostess should set up a separate place for kids and someone to supervise them.

When arranging the setting of the dining table, it is preferable to keep the dining table empty and to put all tableware (plates, forks, knives, spoons, sporks, bowls, glasses or cups and napkins) on a side table.

If there is enough space for guests they can sit at the dining table. Otherwise, you can use the dining table as a food serving area. Food can be served buffet-style, allowing guests to serve themselves quickly and eat wherever they are comfortable. We can add smaller tables for your guests.

Chef El-Tally shared some of her delicious recipes for Christmas banquets with Ahram Online:

Leg of Lamb Recipe:

Leg of Lamb .Photo: Courtesy of Ghada El-Tally
Leg of Lamb .Photo: Courtesy of Ghada El-Tally


Leg or shoulder of lamb

1 onion

4 fresh garlic clove

1 cup yoghurt

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1 tsp spices

½ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp saffron (optional)

Pinch of nutmeg

Salt and pepper

Small piece of heated charcoal


In food processor, mix minced onion/garlic until it turns to paste

Add tomato paste, spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper blend them well in the food processor

Add the pomegranate and yoghurt over the mixture as a final step

With the tip of a sharp knife make deep cuts on both sides of the leg of lamb. Place it in oven pan

Using a brush, rub the lamb all over with the sauce and inside the cuts to enhance the flavour

Cover tightly with a double layer of tin foil to keep all the meat juices in 

Cook it at the highest temperature for 30 minutes

Lower the temperature to 180°C and leave it for 120-160 minutes until it is fully cooked

Uncover the lamb

Place glowing coal in small metallic dish

Drop a little oil on the coal to smoke directly over the lamb

Cover pan again quickly with layer of tin foil for a subtle smoked flavour

Red Velvet Cake Recipe

:  Red Velvet Cake.  Photo: Courtesy of Ghada El-Tally
Red Velvet Cake. Photo: Courtesy of Ghada El-Tally


2 ¼ cups flour

1½ cup sugar

Butter (125g) at room temperature

2 tbsp cocoa powder

2 eggs

½ tsp vanilla

 1cup fresh milk added ½ tsp vinegar

½ tsp salt

1½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp food color (red color)

3 tbsp water


Beat butter with sugar by using an electric mixer until it is smoothed

Then add eggs and vanilla one at a time to the mixture and beat well after every addition

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, food colour and cocoa powder, whisk to mix well

Add flour mixture gradually and beat until it is well-mixed

Pour the milk with vinegar and water to a mixture and whisk well to suspend

Grease cake pan with butter and flour

Put dough in a pan

Place pan in the oven

Bake cake at 180°C degrees for 35-40 minutes

Let it cool completely

Trim off the top  

Crumble by hand or in a blender

Leave cake crumbs aside

Cut the cake into equal layers

Spread whipped cream filling between the cake layers

Spread last layer of whipped cream to cake top or frost the whole cake by using whipped cream

Drizzle crumbs over the top as garnish

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