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Mexico City native and new American citizen Abraham Salum, chef and proprietor of Komali Restaurant in Uptown, just celebrated voting in a United States presidential election for the first time before delving into a busy holiday season combining the best of traditional U.S. and Mexican cuisine and customs. 

"Feliz Navidad" is widely recognized from the song popularized many years ago by Texas singer and songwriter Trini Lopez.  It is a time when many popular Mexican seasonal traditions are easily adapted to our Texas lifestyle.

While most of us, urged along by merchants eager to boost sales, begin celebrating Christmas immediately after Halloween, the Mexican Las Posadas begins Dec. 16 and ushers in nine days of candlelight processions and lively parties.

Unknown to most Americans are the Pastorelas (shepherd plays), dating back to the Mexican colonial period.  But El Nacimiento, the nativity scene that is a primary decoration in a traditional home, often is featured in a U.S. home alongside Santa Claus.

A highlight of the season is Noche Buena (Christmas Eve), made brilliant by the extensive use of La Flor de Noche Buena (Poinsettia) throughout the home, place of business or house of worship.

A little known fact is that the Poinsettia is named after Dr. Joel R. Poinsett, a U.S. diplomat who served as Minister to Mexico in the 1820s. After experimenting with various methods of propagation, he returned home to Charleston, South Carolina with enough cuttings to begin the cultivation of these stunning plants in our part of the world. 

Expect to find traditional contemporary Mexican cuisine at Abraham Salum's Komali during the Feliz Navidad season—from a simple fare of homemade tamales and atole (corn gruel), to other regional dishes like Bacalao (salt cod), Romeritos (wild greens in mole with shrimp cakes), turkey, roast pork and ponche (brandy-spiked punch with Mexican fruits).

Komali is located at 4152 Cole Avenue at Fitzhugh Avenue. Featuring menu items including award-winning brunches and specialty beverages, Komali was cited by Esquire Magazine food critic John Mariani as leading the new wave of authentic Mexican cuisine (not Tex Mex) in the U.S. Serving lunch and dinner, the restaurant is open Monday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.  Brunch is served Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  For reservations call 214-525-0200.   www.komalirestaurant.com

Komali will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 22, and will open at 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 23.  Look for a margarita special on Black Friday.  The restaurant also will be closed Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 24 and 25.           

Join in celebrating a Feliz Navidad by serving Christmas Punch at your holiday party!

Ponche Navideño (Christmas Punch) Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 10 quarts drinking water + 2 quarts hot water
  • 8-10 tejocotes (Mexican fruit found in specialty markets)
  • 2 tamarind pods
  • 6 guavas
  • 3 lbs sugar cane (substitute piloncillo if needed)
  • 1/2 lb prunes
  • 1 cup green apples, peeled and chopped
  • 2 pears, peeled and chopped
  • 4 large oranges (or 6 medium ones) juiced
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 8oz walnuts, chopped
  • 2 lbs piloncillo (Mexican raw sugar, sold in small cone-shaped pieces)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pint of brandy (optional) 

Preparation:

Soak the tamarind and the tejocotes in hot water for about an hour. Bring the 10 quarts of water to a boil in a very large pot, then reduce to a slow simmer.

Remove the tamarind and the tejocotes from the soaking water and discard the water. Remove the brittle shells from the tamarind, and squeeze out the seeds from the pulp. Cut the tejocotes into quarters, removing the skin. Add the tamarind pulp and the tejocotes to the simmering water.

Cut the guavas into quarters, and add them in. Chop or slice the sugar cane into chunks (remove the outer skin if it has it) and add them to the water. Add in the remaining ingredients and simmer for one hour. Remove cinnamon sticks before serving. Makes approximately 15 servings. Use a large ladle and serve each cup with the chunks of fruit.  

Optional:

Mix in 1-2 oz of brandy per serving. Or you can add the entire pint to the batch before serving.  
    

Komali
Contemporary Mexican Cuisine

4152 Cole Ave. #106
Dallas, TX 75204

www.komalirestaurant.com

Call to make a reservation at 214-525-0200
Click here to view the menu

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