Editor’s note: The best holiday memories are of delicious meals with friends and family. ‘Tis the season to cook and eat together. If you need inspiration in the kitchen, here are three wonderful family recipes from the splainer team. Are you a devoted cook who isn’t afraid of a bit of mehnat in the quest for tradition? Try your hand with Rachel’s Khao Suey recipe. It’s the real deal brought along by her family from Burma when they immigrated to India. To satisfy your sweet tooth, Sara offers her mum’s recipe for boozy chocolate decadence. Meghna has your holiday binge snack sorted with her grandma’s super-addictive kal kals;)
The lead image: is a gorgeous example of Ukrainian folk art–where images are painted directly onto glass—by Elena Diadenko.
Rachel’s family’s Ohn No Khow Swe
When my family immigrated to India from Burma (now Myanmar), they could take very little with them. What did travel the seas was this Ohn No Khow Swe recipe that my family prepares on all special occasions—including Christmas. It’s a recipe that has traversed multiple generations of women in my family who have each made their own tweaks to turn it into what it is today. Fair warning: it is slightly labour intensive, but the end result is definitely worth it.
Ingredients (Serves 4-5)
Boiled noodles, preferably fresh egg noodles.
For the curry:
2 kg chicken
½ cup garlic
¼ cup oil
A 2 inch piece of ginger
2 medium onions plus 1 onion, fried
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 chicken stock cube
1 coconut or 4 cups of canned coconut milk
¼ cup gram flour
Salt to taste
4 boiled eggs, chopped
Coriander, for garnish
For the accompaniments:
4 to 5 green onions or scallions, chopped
1 bunch of coriander leaves, chopped
4 boiled eggs, chopped
1 onion, fried
Red chilli flakes
Fried noodles (take the fresh egg noodles and shallow fry them)
Garlic oil (add chopped garlic to oil and then heat it up till they become crispy)
Fish sauce (optional)
- Grind garlic and ginger into a paste. Grind the onions separately to form a smooth paste.
- Add oil to a large vessel and wait for it to heat up. On a medium flame, add the ginger-garlic paste and stir for about a minute.
- Add onion paste to the pot and fry till it starts to brown.
- Add turmeric and red chilli powder and stir for about two minutes, till the raw smell of the masala goes away.
- Then add the chicken to the masala, follow it with salt according to taste and sear for about five minutes.
- In the meantime, bring about 4 cups of water to a boil in a separate vessel. Once the chicken sears with the masala, add in the water and mix well. Throw in the stock cube at this point
- Increase the flame to high and let the curry come to a boil. Reduce heat to medium after the curry starts boiling and let it cook for about 30 minutes.
- While the curry cooks, extract the coconut milk if using a fresh coconut. Here’s a video on how to do that. You need to extract the milk twice—the first milk extracted will be thicker while the second will have a much watery consistency.
- Also, prepare the thickening agent: roast the gram flour in a dry pan till it's fragrant. Add the roasted flour to ½ cup of water and whisk well. Ensure there are no lumps.
- Coming back to the chicken after 30 minutes, add the second extraction of coconut milk and let it come to a boil. Add in the boiled eggs at this point.
- Then add the first extraction, mix well and let it boil for about 15 minutes on medium flame.
- If using canned milk, just put in all four cups in one go and let the curry boil for about 15 minutes.
- After that, add the prepared gram flour slurry and stir continuously till the curry thickens up.
- Switch off the flame after the curry reaches desired consistency. Add in the fried onions and coriander leaves.
- Plate it up by first adding noodles, then the broth and follow it up with the accompaniments in desired quantities. Don’t forget the all important lemon squeeze!
Sara’s mum’s rum & biscuit pudding
Both mum and my aunt have made this boozy decadence since I can remember, but neither remembers where and how they started making it. So I decided to look it up on the internet and found that this is possibly our family’s take on a Sri Lankan dessert. The iffy origin story aside, I can assure you that this pudding is super simple to whip up and is the best of both worlds: it’s boozy and sweet!
Ingredients (Serves 6-7)
1 tin of condensed milk
90 ml Dark rum (Preferably Old Monk)
1 litre whipping cream
For the chocolate sauce:
4 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp custard powder
1 tsp instant coffee powder
1 tsp butter
6 tsp sugar
½ cup water
- Whip milkmaid and dark rum together for 3-4 minutes.
- Dip the biscuits in this mixture and layer it on the bottom of your dish.
- Then alternate this with a layer of whipped cream, until you fill the dish to the top.
- For the chocolate sauce: Add the cocoa powder, custard powder, coffee powder, butter, sugar and water in a saucepan on low-heat and stir until it is the desired consistency.
- Pour this sauce over the top layer and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Meghna’s grandma's kal kal
My grandmother has been making kal kal—small, sweet deep fried treats—since she learnt how to make it from her mother. Every Christmas, she sets aside hours of a day to prepare these so we can package them up and share them with our loved ones. Of course, she makes some extra batches for us. But because they are so addictive to snack on and nearly impossible to put down, we’re always trying to convince her to make them all-year round.
Ingredients (Yields 600-700 grams)
For the dough:
4 cups flour (maida)
½ cup semolina (sooji)
1 cup (roughly) water
¼ cup oil
A pinch of salt
For the sugar coating:
1 cup sugar
¼-½ cup water
Kal kal paddle or gnocchi board (This one available on Amazon will work just fine)
- Mix together the flour, semolina and salt, then add the water and oil to form a dough.
- Knead the dough well till it is tight and let it rest for 30 minutes in a covered bowl.
- After it is done resting, knead it once more.
- Divide the dough into small balls, no more than 2 centimetres in diameter.
- If you have a kal kal paddle or gnocchi board, flatten the dough ball on its surface and roll it up along the indented lines. If you do not have the paddle, you can use the back of a fork to flatten the dough ball out and roll it up gently.
- Keep these prepared but uncooked kal kals covered with a clean cloth till you are able to fry them.
- Fry them on a medium-high heat till golden brown (we like ours on the darker side).
- Now heat the sugar and water together to make the sugar coating. Keep the heat on low to prevent it from burning.
- Once the sugar is dissolved completely, add the kal kals to this and mix well till they are all coated completely.
- Cool and serve!