Kala’s Christmas Fruit Cake

50 years ago I received a baking oven as a wedding gift. From then on I’ve been making a rich and large fruit cake for every Christmas, while of course complaining about the labour 🙂 Rum was available freely in liquor stores and I always used rum in my cakes. I had to stop making this fruit cake once the government ordered privately run liquor stores to shut. Now that the government is running sophisticated liquor stores in the fanciest of shopping malls, I was finally able to procure rum again and revive this family Christmas tradition 🙂

Kala's Christmas Fruit Cake 1 - Kalas Kalai

Kala’s Christmas Fruit Cake

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Prawn (Shrimp) Puffs

In India, we use the term prawn for shrimp also. While I was looking for something special to make for Christmas, I came across the recipe Idaho Tuna Puffs in The Family Circle’s Casserole Cookery Book. I decided to substitute prawns for tuna, as tuna is not easily available here, and to make it suitable for the Indian palate. I deleted the cheese from the ingredients because it didn’t contribute either to the flavour or the texture. I used silicon moulds to make these puffs. I used some of the dough to make small pies to give variety in shapes.

Prawn Puffs 1 - Kalas Kalai

Prawn (Shrimp) Puffs

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Viennese Shortbread Star Cookies

Today is Advent Sunday. It not only welcomes the birth of Christ but also the start of the festive feasting. I found this recipe for Viennese shortbread cookies in the All Colour Cookbook. When I tried this in my kitchen, I found that they were very light and crisp cookies, so easy to bite into and chew. The orange flavour from the rind was tantalizing, and the sprinkling of icing sugar made it a little sweeter. I dispensed with the butter cream filling to make it less calorific. The original was piped out through a flower nozzle but I rolled out the dough and used cookie cutters. My method yields around 50 cookies.

Viennese Shortbread Star Cookies - Kalas Kalai

Viennese Shortbread Star Cookies

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Kala’s Gulab Jamun with Milk Powder (Milk Powder Balls in Sugar Syrup)

Happy Deepavali everyone! This Gulab Jamun is a sweet from North India that is very popular during Deepavali. My father used to make gulab jamun, certainly with the help of my mother, using milk powder instead of koya (milk concentrated to a solid block). Though we didn’t know the correct procedure, we all enjoyed the adventure of making and eating it. I have standardised the recipe after reading many other methods of making it. I also make it with milk powder because koya is not easily available in Tamil Nadu. Serve it with vanilla ice cream for a glorious combination of flavours and taste!

 

Kalas Gulab Jamun with Milk Powder 1 - Kalas Kalai
Kala’s Gulab Jamun with Milk Powder – Serve with Vanilla Ice Cream!

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Baked Paarai Meen (Trevally Fillets)

Fish food doesn’t agree with some people, perhaps because we use a lot of spices in India. I was looking for a fish recipe that used Indian spices but was mild flavoured. I found one in The Cook’s Colour Treasury called hake gratin, which was baked with cheese. To make it suitable for our palate, I removed the cheese and substituted coriander leaves in place of parsley. I used trevally, which is an inexpensive fish in India and can be easily skinned and cut into fillets. The result was a melt-in-your-mouth baked fish with a flavour that no one can resist.

Baked Trevally Fillets - Kalas Kalai

Baked Paarai Meen (Trevally Fillets)

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Manappadu Mutton Paal Kuzhambu (Mutton in Coconut Milk Curry)

Manappadu is a fishing town in the deep south of Tamil Nadu with a predominantly Catholic population. My husband’s friend, Rex Rodrigo, hails from Manappadu and his grandfather started Thomas Rodrigo & Sons in Chennai to provide worship supplies for the Catholic community here and in Sri Lanka. When I got married, Rex invited us to his house for dinner, and his wife Germaine had prepared this fabulous mutton curry. I was stunned and delighted by its heavenly flavour and immediately got the recipe from her. It has been with me for 50 years and I have tried the same with beef, but I was not satisfied and prefer the mutton flavour.

Manappadu Mutton Paal Kuzhambu - Kalas Kalai

Easy to make Manappadu Mutton Paal Kuzhambu (Mutton in Coconut Milk Curry)

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Thirunelveli Lime Rice with Paruppu Thuvaiyal (Roasted Bengal Gram Dhal Chutney)

Thirunelveli Lime Rice is different from the typical Madras Lime Rice in that it is very mild, and fresh ingredients like onion, green chillies, and coriander leaves are used, and it is also served with Paruppu Thuvaiyal. The acid in the lime juice changes the anthocyanin pigment in the onion to a beautiful reddish pink colour and makes the texture crisp. This makes it a most attractive dish.

Thirunelveli Lime Rice with Paruppu Thuvaiyal - Kalas Kalai

Thirunelveli Lime Rice with Paruppu Thuvaiyal (Roasted Bengal Gram Dhal Chutney)

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