Mathri

This had been long overdue. The draft for this post is from 2014 😂😂😂. Finally after five years I am penning this down. And the reason is that until now, neither had I stumbled across the perfect recipe nor had so much fun making these yummy snack. Yesterday both these factors came alive. And so I thought to pen down the story of these mathris.

So, first things first, for those of you who are not familiar with a mathri, it is a small deep fried crispy snack made out of whole purpose flour and some basic condiments. I believe that this is a popular tea time snack pan-India but the recipe starts to vary slightly as one moves from one state to the next. This is full of calories and fat, and hence is usually eaten in small quantities. Most popular way is to eat them as a tea time snack.

Then, about me. I come from a north Indian state called Uttar Pradesh (with quite a big part of my family from the adjacent state of Uttaranchal. Uttaranchal was earlier part of Uttar Pradesh). In my state, mostly mathris are made mixing all purpose flour and semolina with some condiments and clarified butter or ghee. I am married to a Punjabi guy. I have realised that in the state of Punjab, mathris are made purely out of whole purpose flour. So we tried the Punjabi version yesterday.

One of my neighbors and a good friend is also Punjabi. So I asked her to check with her mom on the recipe that she uses. In this age and time of whatsapp, she sent the query to her family group (which includes her brother, sisters and mom). And within minutes her brother responded. Mix a little flour with a little extra ghee and that’s it. 😂😂😂😂😂. We had such a hearty laughter on his response.

Finally we did got hold of the correct recipe from her mom. And gave it a go. The mathris turned out very nice and crisp.

Ingredients:

1. 500 ml all purpose flour (maida)

2. 110 ml molten ghee

3. 1.5 tsp salt

4. 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (methi)

5. Whole black pepper

6. Oil for deep frying

7. 6-7 tbsp luke warm water

Method:

Sieve the all purpose flour in a big bowl. Add the salt. Now take the fenugreek leaves and crush them between your palms. Add these to the flour and salt mix. Mix well. Now add the ghee (2 tbsp at a time) and mix well into the flour rubbing the flour between your fingers and thumb. For those of you who are into baking, this is kind of similar to the process used for making a cookie dough. The aim is to make sure that every grain of the flour is equally covered and mixed with the fat.

You could choose to add the whole ghee at once. My experience is that it helps to add a little at a time and mix thoroughly and then repeat. Once you have added all the ghee into the flour mix, you will find that the flour mixture looks even and uniform. (Tip: take a little flour mixture in your palm and squeeze it between your fingers and palm. It should hold its shape when you open your palm. At the same time, it should also easily crumble when you apply slight pressure. This suggests that the flour mix is ready. Don’t get bothered about this tip in case you do not get the hang of it. You can just follow the measurements and you will be fine).

Now is the time to convert this into a dough. Again, my suggestion is to add little (around 2 tbsp) water at a time and mix it into the flour mixture. Again rubbing between fingers and thumb. We do not knead mathri dough so much. Just mix water and bring the dough together. Normally 6-7 tbsp should be enough water for our dough. If you will add all the water at one go, then you will feel that the water is not enough. And adding more water would make the final product hard. So add little by little. Adding another 1-2 tbsp of water wouldn’t make a big difference though and you can add a little more water in case the dough does not come together.

The final result will be a dough ball, quite cracky (don’t know if that is a word 😂😂. I mean the dough would not look smooth like a pizza dough). Leave this standing, covered with a dry kitchen towel, for 30 min.

Post 30 min, it is time to roll the mathris and fry them. Pinch a little ball of dough from the bigger ball, and roll into a medium thickness (around 0.6 cm thick) mathri.

It is ok to have rough edges. The size of each mathri is approximately 1.5 to 2 inches diameter. Prick the mathri using a fork on both sides. This is done to make sure that the mathri wouldn’t puff up when fried. Finally place a whole black pepper in the centre and hit it with the head of your rolling pin so that it breaks a bit and also gets integrated into the poori. If you do not do this, there is a risk that the black pepper balls will loosen out of the mathri when the latter is fried. At the same time, sometimes the pepper ball can pop open in the hot oil, increasing the risk of oil splashing onto you. So to avoid that this “hitting with the roller pin head” step is done. No more science behind that.

This whole black pepper thing is optional and you can skip it if you like. Though this does give that extra taste to this snack.

Finally time to fry. Frying the mathris is an art in itself. It is important that the mathri get cooked all the way to the inside and yet must not be in the oil too long otherwise they will become very hard. Start with a medium-high oil. Add the mathri in it. As soon as you do that bubbles will start to form and the mathris will start to float a bit. At this stage lower the flame to medium-low and let the mathri cook and float all the way to the top. Gently turn them upside down without breaking them. Cook for another 2-3 min. Finally again increase the flame to medium-high and let the mathri get a slight brown colour. No need to make them totally brown. Take them out on a kitchen towel and leave for 20 min. Their colour will change to slightly more brown while they are cooling down on the kitchen towel.

Do the frying in small batches. If you would try to fry too many at the same go, then mathris might break in the oil. So patience is the key while frying.

(Tip: Almost all cooking ranges are different. To make sure that you get the best result, my suggestion is to fry 2-3 mathris first and let them cool down for 20 min. Then try to break them with your hand. It should be easy to break, flaky and well cooked all the way to the core. Then you are fine, and can continue to fry the mathri on your personalised setting. Good luck 🤗. In any case, the technique is still the same and if you follow my technique you will get a good result.)

Have fun and enjoy these with mango pickle and some indian tea. 🌸