Holi – one of the most popular North Indian festivals is around the corner.Being bought up there I consider myself one of them and am proud to say that we have always an opportunity around the corner to celebrate – be it a small festival like Gudia – this might be unknown to people from maybe the Southern and Western States,where its a peculiar tradition of beating up a doll-like figurine and having sweets and savories afterwards,or the festival of Teej and Bhai Dooj (where again delicacies are made and consumed) to big festivals like Diwali and Holi.
Holi is a festival of colors – and people do not care – toxic or non-toxic they enjoy.Most of them drink “bhang” which is a kind of preparation made from the leaves and buds of the female Cannabis Plant!After playing with colors they eat delicious snacks like Gujia and drink Bhang Ki Thandai – made by mixing bhang with Thandai – a mix of almonds,spices,milk and sugar candy(mishri).
I have the two basic dishes to get started – Mathri and Shakarpare.They are all purpose flour crackers,one salted and the other coated with sugar.Both are equally delicious and are made in large quantities to entertain the ever growing guest crowd during Holi.The basic dough proportion remains the same except that for Mathri we add salt and ajwain(carraway seeds) and to Shakarpare we make the dough plain.
200 gms plain flour/all-purpose flour(maida)
Salt as required
50 ml oil/ghee
1/3 cup carraway seeds(ajwain)
Oil for frying
Water to knead
Sift flour and salt through a sieve.Be careful with the salt.Its better to add less than add more and spoil the taste!Mix in oil/ghee with fingertips and keep on mixing till the flour resembles coarse breadcrumbs,yet is soft to feel.The more the “breadcrumbs” the crisper the crackers will be.
Now add the water a little at a time.Here again we need to be very careful.We do not want a soft dough as for Paranthas..but we want a stiff dough which will have cracks on it.Do nout pour water into the dough.Wet your hands over your kitchen sink aand knead with the wet hands till you achieve the perfect “cracked yet soft” texture.Do not worry.It will turn out crisp Mathris.
You have to make these Mathris in approx 15 minutes you knead the dough as in course of time it loses warmth and might yield a very moist dough which we do not want.Exposure to cold will result in a dry dough.So ensure you have time for frying the crackers as well before you plan to make it.
For festivals I love “grooved” shapes over my crackers and in Holi especially Gujiyas.So this is a “roll tool” available in the market.Just roll it over the dough to achieve a perfect grooved edge.I Western Countries this may be available as a “Pie Cutter” or sometimes a “Pastry Cutter”.A very efficient,decorative tool!
Pastry Cutting Roll Tool from Anjali…
Take a ball of dough and roll out thinly on a smooth surface.Prick with a fork on both sides.With the cutter(or with a sharp knife) cut into desired shapes – squares,diamonds or even circles with a biscuit cutter.I love long and random shapes.So I used the cutter.Slide the cutter neatly over the dough to cut grooved pieces.I remove the sides as they do not look neat and re-roll them with the rest of the dough!I adopt a rustic way to shape the Mathris.
Heat oil in a pan on medium heat and fry the Mathris till they are crisp and golden-brown.Serve with any pickle or chutney or as a snack with tea or coffee.