Venn Pongal and Thengai Chutney (Savoury Rice with Coconut Chutney)

January is the harvest time in Tamil Nadu. Pongal is the harvest festival and is the most important festival for Tamilians. It is celebrated on the first of the Tamil month Thai, which usually falls on January 14th or 15th. Pongal is the name of the dish made to celebrate the harvest and gets its name from the boiling over of the rice. Traditionally it is cooked in the front yard of the house on firewood, in a new mud pot. I modified the traditional recipe for those who do not have front yards, firewood, or mud pots.

venn pongal - kalas kalai

Venn Pongal and Thengai Chutney (Savoury Rice with Coconut Chutney)

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Mocha Brownies for New Year

A New Year is when we make resolutions to better ourselves, such as starting a diet. Before we deny ourselves delicious treats we should end the old year with one last hurrah – a decadent delight of calories and protein in the form of Mocha Brownies. The fragrance of the coffee in the brownies will make the entire neighbourhood come to your house on some excuse or the other 🙂

Mocha Brownies for New Year - Kalas Kalai

Mocha Brownies for New Year

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Steamed Chocolate Pudding for Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! I always wanted to have pudding for Christmas. Indians enjoy having a sweet as dessert after a fine meal, so I wanted it to be a chocolate pudding and it also had to be a steamed pudding because most Indians do not have a baking oven at home. I combined features from various recipes to arrive at an easy-to-make pudding in an Indian kitchen. I serve it with Vanilla Ice Cream or gelato, but you can use any flavour of your choice. Combined with ice cream, this makes an ideal dessert to end an Indian Christmas feast, because we have a fairly warm December. You can also pour chocolate sauce over the pudding if you do not want to serve the pudding with ice cream.

Steamed Chocolate Pudding for Christmas - Kalas Kalai

Steamed Chocolate Pudding for Christmas

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Thirunelveli Mutton Pulav with Inji Thuvaiyal (Ginger Chutney)

This recipe was a Christmas treat in my family when I was growing up in Thirunelveli, but my mother did not make it on Christmas as there was already so much work to be done. Instead she would make it between Christmas and New Year. I simplified this traditional recipe a lot, allowing me to easily make it on Christmas Day as the main dish in the feast. This is traditionally served with the hot and sweet Inji Thuvaiyal (recipe below) and Thayir Pachadi.

Thirunelveli Mutton Pulav - Kalas Kalai

Thirunelveli Mutton Pulav with Inji Thuvaiyal (Ginger Chutney)

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Thirunelveli Kari Vadai (Thirunelveli Mince Patties)

Christmas is the special time of year when people suddenly remember you and drop in hoping for a tasty bite or two 🙂 Carol singers may also pop by to delight you with their enthusiasm if not their talent 😀 This Kari Vadai is my grandmother’s recipe, which I used to enjoy in my Thirunelveli days; it is easy to make and a delight to consume – a guaranteed guest pleaser! It can be served as a snack or as an accompaniment to the Christmas feast along with onion rings and lemon wedges.

Kari Vadai - Kalas Kalai

Thirunelveli Kari Vadai (Thirunelveli Mince Patties)

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Kala’s Christmas Fruit Loaf (Easy-to-Make)

When I was a child, my father would bring home plum cake with royal icing, chocolate cake with butter cream icing, assorted cakes, and many more treats on Christmas Eve. I used to look forward to Christmas all through the year just for this. When I got married in 1969, I received a baking oven as a wedding gift which kickstarted my love affair with baking. I used to make an elaborate Christmas Fruit Cake where we would start chopping the fruits 4 days in advance to soak in rum. After several decades, I stopped making this because it was very tedious, rum became difficult to get because of government regulations, and my son does not touch fruit cakes 🙂 When a friend enquired about fruit cakes on Facebook, I decided to come up with an easy-to-make, no-fuss Christmas Fruit Loaf that would still match the flavour of the traditional fruit cake.

Kalas Christmas Fruit Loaf - Kalas Kalai

Kala’s Easy-to-Make Christmas Fruit Loaf

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Deepavalli Special – Kandhar Appam (Sweet Fritters)

Kandhar Appam is a festive sweet preparation. Though many claim that it originated in Chettinad, it is very popular in Thirunelveli district also. It is usually prepared during Deepavalli, the festival of light and sound that is enjoyed by anyone with a sweet tooth 🙂 Though the homemade sweets have been replaced by the commercial North Indian sweets oozing ghee, kandhar appam is still the reigning Tamil sweet during the festive season.

Kandhar Appam - Kalas Kalai

Kandhar Appam (Sweet Fritters)

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