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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Iyengar Bakery Style Khara Biscuit ~ ICC

Srivalli chose Champa's Iyengar bakery style Khara biscuits or in short, savory shortbread cookies for this month's Indian Cooking Challenge. I wanted to do a happy jig since I don't know how many loads of good stuff I have consumed from these bakeries while growing up. Khara puff (Spicy vegetable puffs), benne biskathu (Butter biscuits), salt biscuits, rusk, dilpasand / chowka bun stuffed with a sweet coconut and dry fruit filling, the sticky, orange honey cake slices, sweet pastries, palya bun and all the good stuff I ate just passed by in front of my eyes like a motion picture. I know I am exaggerating but that's what happens when nostalgia kicks in. J
Iyengar bakeries need no introduction to South Indians. At least in the parts I grew up and familiar with, there was never any dearth of good Iyengar bakeries. Bakeries used to be tucked away in every nook and corner of the suburbs (not exaggeration), catering to the needs of hungry souls, especially popular with the evening crowd. I am sure these bakeries can evoke fond memories in each one of us. A bakery those days would just be called 'Iyengar bakery' or 'Bangalore Iyengar bakery' or something on  similar lines and the stuff available at these stores would be almost the same though they were never part of a franchise.  And especially they used to sell egg less goodies.
I am talking in the past tense since Bangalore, the city where I grew up looks like an unfamiliar zone to me now because of the tremendous changes the city has gone through. May be that is the case everywhere, with modernization engulfing even the remotest part of the country. No offense but I cringe to think about the eateries that sell pizzas / burgers / sandwiches taking over our culinary joints and becoming a fashion statement for the modern Indian youth. I really feel sad to see the new phase (at least in metro cities.) though I respect the 'globalization' effect. (I know this topic needs another post.)
I don't know how many laid back suburbs still exist at this point of time but they do remain evergreen in my memory. And here is a post to relive the past.
These biscuits are not to be confused with the American version that is served with gravy. They are equivalent to American 'cookies'. Khara biscuit literally means spicy cookies in Kannada and are quite unlike the sweet versions of the western world.

2 cups all purpose flour / maida (or 250 gms)
1/3 cup (or 5 TBSP + 1 tsp) softened butter 

4 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
6 Green chillies, chopped fine (or to taste.) / 1 Tbsp pepper powder

2 Tbsp minced cilantro
3 Tbsp Yogurt (See notes.)

* Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C). Grease the baking sheets and set aside.
Add flour and salt to a bowl and whisk together. If using pepper powder add that as well.
Cream the softened butter and sugar in another bowl. Add about 2 Tbsp yogurt and continue to beat. Next add the dry ingredients, chopped cilantro, chillies and 1Tbsp of yogurt. With out applying much pressure, work the dough with your hands. Add any extra yogurt if needed, to form a firm dough.
* Roll the dough into about 1/4" thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut into desired shapes.
* Place them on the prepared baking sheets and bake for about 20 minutes or until done. Rotate the trays halfway through. These cookie tops don't brown but the bottoms turn golden brown when done.
* Let cool and store in an airtight container. They get firmer once cooled and stay fresh for about 4 days. 

1. I had to use about 5 - 6 Tbsp of yogurt though the original recipe mentions to use 2 - 3 Tbsp.
2. I baked for 20 minutes and allowed them to cool. They were soft and I had to bake them again for another 10 -12 minutes to attain the desired texture.
3. Mint / curry leaves can be substituted for cilantro.
4. A tbsp of cumin / sesame seeds can be added for extra flavor.



Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said...

Wonderfully executed Suma :)

Champa said...

Among all the pictures, yours are the best that I have seen so far. You probably had to bake longer because you added more yogurt. I had a friend whose husband owned a bakery. She used to tell me how hard it used to shape them. Because they use a very tight and crumbly dough.

harini-jaya said...

Lovely pictures! We enjoyed eating these biscuits too.
You are right when you say that these biscuits evoked nostalgic memories!! I have been longing to reproduce the I.B goodies. I am sure this is the first step towards that!

Shanavi said...

I've also made this ..Yum kaara biscuit..Lovely pics

Mélange said...

The clicks are absolutely wonderful..Nice presentation Suma..

Gayathri Kumar said...

The cookies look absolutely delicious..

Aarthi said...

This looks so yummy and delicious..Will try this soon..Seems really simple..thanks for the recipe dear..Post more and keep blogging

PriyaVaasu said...

Looks yummy!!!!

Raji said...

Lovely pictures and presentation Suma..these look perfect.

Sreelu said...

delicious Suma

Hari Chandana said...

Super ga vunnayi.. love the cute basket :)
Indian Cuisine

Prathibha said...

I love them....looks yummy n nice..:)
all blogs r flooded wid them..

kaveri said...

Biscuits look yum!...Reading your post really brought back memories of having the puffs and buns from these bakeries..Me and brother use to love there sandwiches as well

Priya said...

Marvellous and prefectly baked khara biscuits Suma...