Wednesday, December 17, 2014


It isn't Christmas time without a family session of kulkul making. Kulkuls? What are they? These are small curlicues, fried and rolled in sugar syrup. Made to warm a true Goan's heart. Christmas in a Mac household is a veritable oil, flour and sugar explosion. Besides kulkuls, they make rose de coque, dodol, nankatais and of course, marzipan. Fried or baked, it doesn't matter. This December calorie laden feast is a sweet lover's delight. And a dieter's nightmare. 

I make this gnocchi shaped curls every year. And every year my ma in law tells me they are too soft. Too fat. Of course, she always says they taste good!! She speaks the truth. One year I fry them on a too high flame turning them dark brown. This year I fry them too fast, so they aren't quite crisp as they should be. Like Goldilocks, I am still test the waters. Making them is a family affair. I just love the convivial atmosphere, the banter and the arguments that hover like a blimp!! We chip away at the dough with divided tasks. I make balls, and the rest of them roll and curl.  My brother gives me a gnocchi maker which is the perfect tool for making kulkuls. In the past we have used combs (unused of course!) and forks. They use one gnocchi maker and forks, so we have an assortment of thin and thick curls. No matter. It's the taste that counts. Having merged two recipes, this dough comes together easily as a chewy sugar and coconut fritter.

Makes about 50 small curls

250 grams Flour
1 tablespoon Butter
1 Egg Yolk
A pinch of Salt
3 tablespoons Sugar
3/4 cup Coconut Milk
2 cups Canola oil to fry kulkuls

Sugar Syrup
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tablespoons Water

Mix flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor.

Add butter and pulse a few times. Flour should resemble small peas.

Add egg yolk and pulse a few times.

Add coconut milk and pulse again to combine. The dough should come together as a loose ball.

Empty dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead till smooth.

ALTERNATELY... Mix flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture with a knife or use your fingers. Add egg yolk and mix. Add coconut milk gradually and gather the dough together with your hands. Knead till smooth.

To make the kulkuls you can use a gnocchi maker, a fork or an unused comb with teeth close together.

Keep a sheetpan nearby to place the formed curls.

Pinch a piece of dough that is the size of a marble or a large pea. You will get a feel for it as you make them.

Press dough on device and flatten using your thumb. The dough should be like an elongated coin. Next roll the flattened dough away from you. The curl should overlap. Try to make these curls as tight as you can. 

Place formed curls on a sheet pan. 

Delicate gnocchi curls at the top--Fat fork curls at the bottom.

Heat 1 1/2-2 cups canola oil in a frying pan or deep pan. Test hot oil with a bit of dough. The dough should spring to the surface on contact with hot oil.

Fry 3-5 curls at a time, moving the curls constantly as they fry. You might have to lower the flame if they start turning dark brown. When done, the kulkuls should be golden brown. Drain kulkuls on paper towels. Keep aside while you make the sugar syrup.

Heat sugar and water in a pan over medium heat for 5 minutes till slightly thick.

Put fried kulkuls in a bowl and drizzle sugar syrup over them, stirring so syrup covers kulkuls. 

Cool and nibble. Or bite. Enjoy!!

I fry as they roll. I drizzle on the sugar syrup. The curls take on a frosted look as the syrup dries white and snow-like. Fat and thin kulkuls are spread so invitingly. Oohs and aahs resound as these frosty tidbits make their way into our salivating mouths. This labor intensive foray is a treat for all of us. Over the years I have attempted other Goan Christmas treats. This one stays strong. It speaks to me of family and togetherness, wrapped up in a tiny curl.