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Sweet X'Mas home secrets

It’s Christmas time when you start smelling the sugar being browned for the cake. Jennifer Mullick shares sweet memories.

india Updated: Dec 22, 2008 20:32 IST
Jennifer Mullick

It’s Christmas time when you start smelling the sugar being browned for the X’mas cake, the candied peel getting choppe

d, the atta getting mauled and mauled for the famous kulkuls.

Ingredients getting measured and kept aside for the toffees, all this along with the nip in the air and Jim Reeves belting out I’m dreaming of a white Christmas, just seems perfect or so I make it sound.

Well, let me tell you it isn’t hunky dory at all. There is so much more (unspoken tales the children of the house know of) that goes into the perfect tray set out on the centre table on Christmas Day. To date, I shiver when my mom decides upon the day she is preparing coconut toffee.

Steal a lick

As poor unsuspecting kids, the excitement of toffee — the sugar being measured, the pink colour being added, stealing a lick — was so high but only if it turned out just like mummy wanted it (setting just right to cut to diamond shapes).

Bawling, I would go to dad. He’d say, “Bubba, how many times have I told you to stay out of the kitchen when your mother is making toffee.” Then comes the kulkul making day. More the pair of hands available, the better.

Only for guests

While rolling out maida balls on a fork or comb if you even dare to complain, you are threatened with, “You don’t make it, you don’t get to eat it.” If you even utter something like why does the shape have to be curly, wurly only, the sharp rebuke is wor

se than a rap on your knuckles. One good thing about kulkuls, you can indulge in them in fistfuls. Whereas those dreaded toffees, even if you reach out for another piece, you are told, “My dear, this is not rice and dal, it is meant for the guests.”

My mother makes a ‘date and walnut roll’. Seems very simple. Ask her for the recipe. And she doles it out easily. But being her daughter, only I know the trick behind it. I remember her Geman friend and her Eggnog. It used to be sheer torture gulping down half a glass of it after Midnight Mass. She thought the world of it. We didn’t.

Special recipe

Considering it was thrown away, she would tell us not to ask her for the recipe. It was a family secret which could only be handed down to her children. We’d dare not tell her the truth, mother loved her too much, even at the cost of her entire family having stomach rumbles the next day. She did leave mother the recipe in her will. I’ll surely make it some day when I find it. I am over all this now but longing for those days again. I do still play, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. Toffees come readymade and so do the kulkuls from mummy’s house.