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Monday, December 22, 2014


23rd December 2014

Bring on the batter   Bridget Kumar,Dec 23, 2014, DHNS:

I have always associated Christmas with the smells, sounds and sights of the season. It brings back the memories of my hometown — Kolar Gold Fields. 

The smell of the decorated pine Christmas tree in the sitting room, the enticing aroma of Christmas cakes being baked and the ‘kalkals’ and rose cookies being fried, the sight of all the Christmas decorations, buntings and the soothing sounds of Christmas carols — I have great memories of everything and all these are a part of the wonder of Christmas.

My mother would start the preparation of the traditional sweets and treats that are a part and parcel of Christmas a fortnight in advance. Kalkals, rose cookies, fruit cakes, coconut sweets, the Christmas pudding, bole cake, dodol, bebinca, marzipan, peanut fudge, cashewnut fudge and rice crispies were some of the goodies that were prepared in abundance by her. The delicious aroma of these goodies would drift through the house and neighbourhood.

I am sharing the recipes of two of my favourite Christmas delights — kalkals and Christmas cake.

 As kids, we would wait for the Christmas holidays to begin so that we could all help my mother in the preparation of sweets. We would 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 kalkals as possible with it. These kalkals were like small shells and we would also cut out various other shapes like hearts, clubs and diamonds with the help of cutters.

 It was fun competing with each other to see who made the most. As soon as we completed a good number my mother would start frying them till all were fried and a huge heap was kept in basins and trays on the table. Once cold, she would make the frosting by pouring hot sugar syrup on the kalkals. We had a lot of fun helping her and sometimes even our non-Christian friends would join the fun. Of course, a good portion of the fried kalkals would go into our mouths in the process!

The Christmas spirit would set in early thanks to the Christmas cake. The earlier it is prepared with your choice of liquor, the more delicious it turns out to be. Most Anglo-Indian families have their own recipe for Christmas cake, which is usually handed down through generations. Candied fruit, plums, currants, raisins and orange peels are dexterously cut and soaked in rum or brandy a few weeks in advance. Nuts are peeled and chopped and the whole family comes together to make the Christmas cakes.

In our family, different tasks would be allotted to each person — while one whipped up the eggs, another creamed the butter and sugar. A person with strong arms would do the final mixing and stirring. After the cake batter was poured into the tins, the real fun would begin with everyone fighting to lick the leftover batter in the mixing bowl and on the spoons and spatulas! 

Recipe for Kalkals
  (Serves six)

n Refined flour - 1 kg
n Eggs (beaten well) - 6
n Milk or thick coconut milk - 2 cups
n Salt - 1 teaspoon
n Sugar - 300 grams
n Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
n Oil for frying

Mix the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder together. Add the coconut milk and eggs and knead to a soft dough. Keep aside for an hour. Form kalkals by taking small lumps of the dough and roll on the back of a fork or a wooden kalkal mould, to form a scroll. Alternately, roll out the dough and cut into fancy shapes with kalkal or cookie cutters. Heat oil in a deep pan and fry as many kalkals as possible at a time. Keep aside.

To frost the kalkals, melt one cup of sugar with half cup of water and when the sugar syrup crystallises, pour over the kalkals and mix well. Store in air-tight boxes when cold.

Christmas cake 
Refined flour or plain flour - 500 grams
Dark brown sugar - 300 grams
Unsalted butter - 500 grams
Mixed dried fruits (black currants, raisins and sultanas chopped finely and soaked in rum or brandy before hand) - 500 grams
Chopped orange / lemon peel - 100 grams
Lemon or orange zest - 1 tablespoon
Salt - ¼ teaspoon
Nutmeg powder
- ½  teaspoon
Cinnamon powder - ½ teaspoon
Eggs (beaten) - 4
Milk (optional) - 4 tablespoons
Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
Vanilla essence/extract - 1 teaspoon
Black currant jam or orange marmalade - 2 tablespoons
Black treacle syrup or date syrup  (optional) - 2 tablespoons

Heat the oven to 150°C. Remove the chopped fruit from the rum, drain and keep aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder and salt together.

Dust the orange/lemon peel and the chopped soaked fruit with a little flour. Cream the butter and sugar well. Add the beaten eggs, treacle/date syrup, vanilla essence, orange/lemon zest and mix well.

Now add the black currant Jam/marmalade, orange/lemon peel and chopped fruit. Slowly, add the flour and mix gently till all the ingredients are combined well. If the mixture is too thick, add a little milk.

Pour into a greased and papered baking tin and bake in a slow oven for about one hour or more. Check if cooked by inserting a tooth pick. If the tooth pick comes out clean, your cake is ready.

Remove from the oven when done and set aside to cool. When the cake is completely cool, poke all over with tooth pick and drizzle brandy or rum.  Repeat once in every week or ten days if you are preparing in advance. Wrap in foil paper. This cake will last for months if stored in an air-tight container. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014


A nostalgic visit down Memory Lane by Patrick and Heather Taylor on 8th November 2011 after 55 years along with Bridget White-Kumar - 

A member of the Family who owned the British Mining Firm John Taylor and Sons makes a nostalgic trip to KGF after 55 years” ! It all began when Patrick Taylor’s elder sister Anthea “gave me this book on KGF as a Birthday gift. I read it and my itch to come to India intensified,” says Patrick Taylor, referring to the book written by Bridget White-Kumar entitled Kolar Gold Fields—Down Memory Lane.
 London based Patrick Taylor is the great grandson of Mr. John Taylor, the founder of ‘The John Taylor and Sons Company’, the British Mining firm which started the systematic mining of gold in the KGF area and ran the gold mines in KGF for 72 years from 1884. He is the son of Arthur Taylor, a Partner and the last General Manager of the KGF Mines when the Mines were handed over to the government of India in 1956. The Mining Firm of John Taylor and Sons has since been disbanded and is not in existence any more. Treading away from the family trade of mining, Patrick studied to be a Chartered Accountant and worked as one for several years before moving to Radio and Publishing. He now owns an adventure travel and tourism company as well. 

 I was pleasantly surprised to receive this email from Mr. Patrick Taylor from the UK, in October 2011.
“Dear Bridget
My name is Patrick Taylor. I am in the process of reading your fascinating book on the KGF. My father, Arthur, a partner in the firm of John Taylor & Sons, was in charge of the mines during my early childhood, when I lived on the KGF for 7 years before returning to England for my education. Now 63 years old, I have never returned to India but my wife and I are coming to the KGF in November. I would be most interested to meet you if that would be possible. I have many happy many memories of my early life in India and for me this trip will definitely be a trip down memory lane. It will be greatly enhanced if I can have the benefit of learning from your knowledge of the place that was the foundation of my life.
I look forward to hearing from you.
With best wishes
Yours sincerely
Patrick Taylor

I was only too happy to oblige and made arrangements for a day Trip to KGF with them on the 9th November 2011. Patrick and his wife Heather were in Bangalore on the 8th November and the next day I accompanied them on a trip ‘Down Memory Lane to KGF’.We started our trip with a visit to the new exploration site of the Australian Mining Company ‘Kolar Gold Company’ at Chickregunta (which is just outside KGF) near Kuppam in Andhra Pradesh. We were accompanied by Mr. Richard Johnson the Chief Operating Officer, Phillip Dingle (an old KGF boy   presently working as a mining consultant with the firm) and Mrs. Nickie Johnson.  Phillip and Mr. Richards made our trip to the new exploration site truly memorable. It was a fascinating opportunity of looking into the future and seeing a new Gold Mining area taking shape, while it was also a glimpse into the past, as to how the pioneers of our present day Kolar Gold Fields once explored and prospected for gold in a rocky barren area to what it finally evolved into!
After our visit to the new Site we then proceeded to KGF and visited various places around Champion Reefs, such as Our Lady of Victories Church, the Champion Reefs Post Office, the Champion Reefs Water Works and Reservoir, the Champion Reefs Work Shops, the Imperial Bakery and the KGF Mining Hospital now known as the BGML Hospital. Patrick was very sad to see the deplorable state of the Mining Hospital where he recalled being treated for various childhood illnesses and also to have his hand sutured when he cut it while banging on a glass door when he was around 6 years old. This hospital was once the Referral Centre for all Chest related diseases in the District and had eminent Doctors and Nurses on its rolls.
 Patrick was quite nostalgic when we visited the St Joseph’s Convent. The Nuns were so thrilled to have him visit them. They said the ‘son of the house has returned to visit them’. Incidentally, the Convent was earlier the residence of Mr. Arthur Taylor, the General of the John Taylor and Company and Patrick’s father. His old home as Patrick fondly remembers it, is still in the same beautiful condition today and lovingly maintained by the Sisters of St Joseph of Tarbes. The Nuns were kind enough to give him a tour of the entire house and Patrick told them a lot of stories connected with this house.
 Many will recall that  St Joseph’s Convent School was earlier functioning in the premises of St Mary’s Church compound (now Our Lady of Victories Church) in Champion Reefs. However, due to the massive Rock Burst of Earth Quake proportions in 1952, the St Mary’s Church, the Presbytery, the St. Joseph’s   Convent and the School Buildings all collapsed to the ground. All the buildings were completely destroyed. Mr. Morgan, The Chief Medical Officer of the Company Hospital, rushed to help the Sisters he arranged for their indefinite stay at the Bungalow of the General Manager of the Mines, Mr. Arthur Taylor in Champion Reefs, who was away in England on a holiday at the time. The nuns were given half of the main house as their temporary abode. Even though this bungalow was huge and quite spacious it was insufficient to accommodate the Convent and the school with so many students. So while half of the main house, the garage and servants quarters were made use of for the Convent, the classes were held under the trees and in temporary sheds.
When Mr. Arthur Taylor, returned to KGF from the UK he and his family shifted to another Bungalow near the Golf Course which now houses the Mining Offices. We then proceeded to visit the other Bungalow near the Golf Course where Patrick’s family shifted after their return from their holiday in the UK in 1952. He was however quite sad to see it in its present run down state even though the Mining Offices are housed in it. Never the less this house also evoked a lot of Nostalgia and he recalled many happy incidents of his short stay there before he left for the UK in a couple of years. “I have several photographs of the house that is now the Convent, but none from this house,” said Patrick after a brief walk-through.
St Michael’s and All Angel’s Church was also on his list of places to visit and he was very happy to visit the Church which he remembered attending Sunday Service. He spent sometime in the Church speaking to the Church Representatives Mr. Nathan and Mr. Moses who presented him with a copy of the Centenary Souvenir. The Old Pipe Organ that he remembered
The KGF Club was the highlight of his visit. Mr. Kotnise, the President and Mr. Nathan, Secretary of the KGF Club welcomed Mr. and Mrs. Taylor and interacted with them. Patrick was immensely pleased to see the photographs of his Great grandfather John Taylor and all his other Taylor Ancestors displayed on the walls of the Conference Room of the Club. “That’s my uncle,” or “that’s my cousin” he would mumble over his shoulder to his wife Heather. “You’ve kept these for all these years?” he asked the secretary of the KGF Club as he walked by a wall of framed photographs of all the partners and officers of the erstwhile John Taylor and Company. He and his wife stood under the photograph of his Great grandfather John Taylor in the Main Bar and clicked many   photographs. He was immensely pleased to meet Susai Raj, the old Bartender and Caretaker of the KGF Club. Susai Raj is now 88 years old but his memory was quite fresh when narrating various incidents connected with the Taylor Family.  Susai as his British bosses called him, is at home in the club. “I used to make the best cocktails, I still can,” he says his eyes gleaming as he remembered Cocktails and Dances evenings in this once prestigious club. “I went over to his house when his parents hosted evening parties, and he once fell   sick from eating too many cherries,” Susai tells Patrick’s wife Heather. Dressed for the occasion in formal pants and a shirt with a tie and tiepin, Susai was still adhering to the dress code that was in force when the “Dorais” spent evenings at the Club. “Children were strictly not allowed,” Susai further clarifies. 
 Patrick was pained to see the visible signs of deterioration in this once prestigious Club like the rest of KGF. The mounted Antlers and Horns still adorn the foyer of the club, but the beautiful garden surrounding the Club has disappeared. The grand Piano in the erstwhile ‘Ladies Bar’ now lies unused and in need of repairs. The brass door knobs and handles no longer shine and the beautiful crockery and cutlery with the Club’s monogram specially brought from Sheffield in the UK all those years ago have all disappeared and now replaced with ordinary ones. The Bar is also not so well stocked now and soft drinks are served in a bottle with a drinking straw and paper napkins. The snacks and short eats that the club was so famous for in the old days have been replaced with small packets of store bought nuts and fries.
 “My father was proud of what the family had done here in India. KGF was the first Town in India to get electricity almost 110 years ago and was also said to have been one of the first towns to get cemented roads. While I firmly believe that every country should run itself, on coming back here, I do feel a certain amount of sadness on seeing this town fading away,” said Patrick while we drove past the Old Colonial Bungalows that are almost in ruins and the Mineshafts that are now locked and closed to the public. That era is a beautiful blur in his mind.
 Soon it was time to leave KGF as the Taylor’s had to catch the early morning flight back to the United Kingdom. With heavy hearts they bid goodbye to KGF and promised to visit again sometime. “There is so much more to see, which means I have to come back soon,” Patrick said before leaving.
 I was immensely pleased that their visit to KGF went off well and all the arrangements made by me for their visit were appreciated by them.