MAKING KALKALS AND ROSE COOKIES AT CHRISTMAS TIME IN KOLAR GOLD FIELDS
One of my strongest childhood memories of Christmas time in KGF is of us children sitting around the dining table making KalKals. We’d compete with each other to see who rolled the most kalkals. (Kalkals are made from sweetened dough and look like small shells which are later deep fried in oil and sometimes covered with icing sugar).
KALKALS or KULKULS are prepared all over India at Christmas time. A variant of ‘Filhoses Enroladas’ a Portuguese Christmas Sweet, Kalkals are delicious, crunchy inch-long curled or shell shaped sweetened fried treats. Sugar and flour are combined with eggs, milk and butter to a soft dough and then small marble sized balls of this dough are rolled on the tines of a fork or a comb to form a shell or a scroll, then deep fried in hot oil. The dough is sometimes rolled out and cut into different shapes such as hearts, spades, diamonds etc with cutters or a knife and then deep fried in hot oil. The Kalkals / Kulkuls are later frosted or coated in hot melted sugar syrup.
Making Kalkals is a time consuming process and thus requires many hands in its preparation. Hence a few days before Christmas, a separate day is designated as ‘Kalkal Day’ when every member of the family spends a few hours rolling out his/her portion of the kalkal dough. While one doesn’t know how the name ‘Kalkals / Kulkuls’ got its nomenclature it is probably because of the “curls” of this particular Christmas Sweet.
We children would wait for the Christmas holidays to begin so that we could all help our mum in the preparation of the Kulkuls, Rose Cookies, etc, We’d all sit around the dining table and each of us would take a lump of dough and spread it on a fork to make as many kulkuls as possible with it. These kulkuls were like small shells. To make other shapes, we would also roll out the dough and cut out various shapes like hearts, clubs, diamonds, etc with the cutters. It was fun competing with each other to see who made the most. My mum would start frying the kulkuls as soon as we completed a good number, and would keep frying till all the kulkuls were fried and a huge heap was kept on the table to cool. She’d then frost them when they were cold, by pouring hot sugar syrup on the kulkuls. We had a lot of fun helping to make the kulkuls, and sometimes even our non-Christian friends would join us and help us in this happy task. Of course, a good portion of the fried kulkuls would go into our mouths while helping to make them.
Rose Cookies are delicious fried Anglo-Indian Christmas Treats. Though named as Cookies, theyare not cookies in the strict sense as they not baked but deep fried in hot oil. Rose Cookies are also known as Rosette Cookies, Rosa Cookies, etc and are prepared with a sweetened batter consisting of Flour, Eggs, Vanilla Extract and Coconut milk. Believed to be another culinary legacy left by the Portuguese in India, they are known as Rose de Coque or Rose de Cookies in Portugual. (They are also known as Rosettes in Sweden and Norway). The crisp cookies are made by plunging a special hand-held ‘Rose Cookie Mould’ or ‘Rosette Iron’ lightly coated with a sweet batter into hot oil. The
Rose Cookie Mould or Rosette Iron is a long handled gadget with intricately designed iron moulds of different flowers such as roses and daisies. The Mould or Iron is heated to a very high temperature in oil, dipped into the batter, then immediately re-immersed in the hot oil to create a crisp shell around the hot metal. The mould or iron is shaken slightly, till the Rose Cookie gets separated from it. The delicate golden brown, light and crispy cookie thus separated from the mould /iron floats to the top and is taken out from the hot oil with a flat porous spoon. Though a time consuming and laborious process, Rose Cookies are incredibly delicious
Now a days, people prefer to buy the Rose Cookies, Kalkals and Cake from the local stores and bakeries. The old thrill of making them at home is now fading as families are getting smaller and people breaking away from tradition. These precious memories of Christmas in our childhood days in KGF will remain in forever.