A Week Of An Indian Christmas – Day #2 : Kulkuls/ Kalkals/ Kidyo (Sugar Glazed Deep-Fried Dough Curls)
After Nankhatais, it is the turn of Kulkuls (or Kalkals), also called Kidyo in Goa. Kulkuls are made by deep-frying inch long bits of sweet dough moulded/ shaped into small curls (like butter curls) which are often also coated with a sugar glaze which dries out. The kulkuls tend to resemble small worms, hence the name “Kidyo” in Konkani, the language spoken in Goa. If you do not to think of them as “wworms” you can think of them as shell shaped. I like to think that the name “Kulkul/ Kalkal comes from the rattling sound of these little treats jostling one another when they’re shaken in sugar syrup or maybe in the tin in which they would be stored.
Kulkuls are made during the Christmas in Goa and an important item in the Kuswar (a collection of Goan Christmas-time treats), and are distributed to neighbours. They’re also taken along to give away during "obligatory" visits to friends and family.
Many of the typically Christmas-time treats like the Nevri or the Chakli (posts to come in this series) are foods that are typically Indian and are prepared by various other communities are celebratory fare. Kulkuls however are typically prepared traditionally by the Christian community alone. Someone points out the Kulkuls are actually a variation of the Portuguese Filhoses Enroladas, which is a roll or curvy noodle shaped Christmas-time sweet that is deep-fried and sugar glazed. So it is possible that Kulkuls were brought to India by the Portuguese.
A slightly different version of this is made in Kerala for Christmas. They're called "Diamond Cuts (or just Cuts)" and are thin diamond shaped pieces of dough which are also glazed with sugar syrup, or just dusted with powdered sugar.
The dough recipe is a little different since no semolina is used. A somewhat soft pliable dough is made of all-pupose flour, water, a little salt, and an egg. The dough is then rolled out thin (about a 1/4" thick) and cut into 1" diamond shapes which are deep-fried and later glazed with sugar syrup.
In northern India, an eggless version of Diamond Cuts are made and the savoury version of this is called Namakpare (Namak meaning salt in Hindi) and a sweet version called Shakkarpare (Shakkar meaning sugar in Hindi). I have earlier posted a baked and savoury version of this
There are recipes which use only all-purpose flour and those that use a combination of all-purpose flour and a bit of semolina (rava). Semolina tends to add a bit of crunch, and I used it in my Kulkuls. You can also leave out the egg if you choose but it will make a difference to the texture. Kulkuls can be all crunchy or sometimes a bit crunchy and a little soft on the inside. It all depends on the recipe you use. These are crunchy on the outside and a little soft inside.
Kulkuls do not need to be glazed with sugar, so you can increase the sugar in the recipe given below and leave out the glaze for a less sweet treat. Alternatively, you can lightly dust them with powdered sugar as soon as they come out of the oil.
The smaller sized Kulkuls look nicer but require even more time to shape them than the slightly larger ones. Being time and labour intensive, this is one of those recipes you do not get your hands in the dough a day ahead. Think about a week or at least 3 days ahead!
Traditionally families (near and extended), friends and close neighbours would get roped into the act of rolling Kulkuls off the moulds a few days before Christmas. So this is one of those “family time together” kinds of activity where every extra pair of hands is a bonus. Of course, if you have a family whose idea of “family activity” means coming in at the end of everything and offers to be your taste testers, then you have a half-day or whole-day’s work ahead of you depending on the quantity you’re making. It’s unbelievable how much time you put into making a handful of these only to see a handful of it disappear into someone’s mouth in a minute!
Kulkuls/ Kidyo (Sugar Glazed Deep-Fried Dough Curls)
For the sugar glaze:
- The consistency of the dough is important – soft and pliable, otherwise shaping the Kulkuls can get difficult.
- Kulkuls puff up a bit during deep-frying, so make sure you use roughly pea-size balls of dough and flatten the dough well before rolling it up otherwise you would end up with rather big ones. Taste-wise it won’t matter bit but might look a little strange aesthetically, like bugs/ caterpillars rather than curls/ shell-like!
- For prettier looking Kulkuls, a fine toothed comb is the way to go. You get finer striations with a comb than with the tines of a fork.
- Remember to pinch and seal each Kulkul well after moulding or they will open up in the oil.
- The oil temperature is important. It should not be too hot.
- Do make sure you frequently agitate the Kulkuls in the oil while deep-frying to ensure uniform cooking and colour. You don’t want to end up with Kulkuls looking like they had a bad tan day – overdone on the top and pale on the underside!
- If you’re not going to glaze your Kulkuls, add a little more sugar to the dough. Kulkuls are traditionally sweet, but go ahead and make them spicy for a change by adding a bit of chilli powder/ crushed pepper to the dough and they make a great tea-time snack!
Other Posts In This Series: