Give Christmas A Sicilian Spin With Hearty Tummala

Tummala (Sicily) (15) Families all seem to have their own Christmas classics — roast turkey, baked ham, crown roast or pork, or prime rib. Many Italian-Americans will have lasagna or a feast of seven fishes. One spectacular preparation for a change of pace is to follow some families and make the classic Sicilian Christmas tummàla.

Tummàla is a timbale of rice, a magnificent concoction of layers of baked rice, poached chicken, veal meatballs, hard-boiled eggs, cheeses and a cheesed omelet to create a golden mantle.

Although a Christmas specialty, Sicilian cooks prepare tummàla for all sorts of celebrations when a grand culinary gesture is warranted. It is considered a representative example of cucina arabo-sicula, a contemporary folkloric expression of a supposed Arab culinary sensibility found vestigially in the contemporary Sicilian kitchen, some 800 years after the last of the Arab-Sicilian population disappeared. At the very least, it is considered Arab-Sicilian because the Arabs introduced rice to the island in the ninth or 10th century.

The Italian translation of the Sicilian tummàla is timballo, leading one to believe that this dish is derived from the French timbale, a baking mold in the shape of a kettledrum, hence its name. READ MORE.


  1. Our Sicilian Christmas Rice family recipe originated in Agrigento. It has been an essential Christmas Day tradition for our family in the U.S. for over a century. Its Middle Eastern roots are readily apparent: The base is a simple chicken stock. Spices are limited to saffron, cinnamon and black pepper. The “filling” is small coarse-ground, thumb-size, beef-and-sausage meat roughly shaped nuggets that are cooked in the broth with the rice and spices. The resulting “soupy” mixture is then baked with an egg-and-cheese “omelet” topping.

Speak Your Mind


Site maintained by StudioSJS