For the uninitiated, I am doing a blogging marathon this month, based on Andhra cuisine, going in an alphabetical order. Today is the turn for alphabet 'F' and this is one of those tricky letters where you land up with zero recipes in Andhra cuisine. Zero recipes that is, if you are looking for recipes with regional names beginning with that alphabet as there is no 'F' sounding culinary terms in the local dialect.
When I sat down to plan my recipes for this month's marathon, I tackled the difficult alphabets first to make sure that there are indeed Andhra recipes that represented each alphabet. If not for the 'regional name' marathon rule, I would have not bothered with the usage of the English names for dishes. I have the option of using English names for only three dishes in this marathon and definitely there are more than three alphabets that need maneuvering because of lack of recipes with regional names.
Being a south Indian, the first 'F' dish that came to mind was filter coffee but I had to discard the idea immediately for two reasons. My husband who is the only coffee consumer in my home has switched over to tea recently and getting a bag of coffee powder for blog's sake made no sense. Besides, filter coffee is not unique to the state and is consumed all over south India.
Then I remembered seeing fine biscuits from Hyderabad some time back, here. The region also has two desserts starting with F which are popular in parts of India influenced by the Muslim reign. They are the 'falooda' and 'firni' aka phirni, for which I have already posted the recipes. Hyderabad is currently acting as the capital city for both Andhra pradesh and the newly formed state, Telangana. I visit the city during my India trips but mostly they are like and 'blink and miss' kind because of our tight schedules and are meant to visit siblings. We don't get to explore much of the city or the food. I have tasted other variety of Hyderabadi biscuits in my SIL's house but not these fine biscuits. These seem to be a part of Irani cafes there and these yummy, flaky biscuits are made with puff pastry sheets. They are like our version of palmiers and are supposedly as big as a hand. I made medium sized ones and the version I made had a balanced amount of sweetness. I did not have the crystalline sugar (which by the way is the common sugar in Indian kitchens) and used the regular sugar (which is almost powdery in U.S). And so one gets to see the white layer on the biscuits which I am sure not a part of the looks of the original version. However everyone at home enjoyed the biscuits. I used a ready made puff pastry sheet for convenience. The recipe below is for general guide lines and so no mention of quantities of ingredients.
1 Puff Pastry Sheet
Sugar for rolling the biscuits
All purpose flour for dusting
Milk for brushing
* Thaw the puff pastry according the package directions or for about 30 - 40 minutes.
* Keep a plate of sugar and a plate of flour handy.
* Roll the pastry sheet thinly, dusting the work surface with flour as needed.
* Gently brush the top with milk and sprinkle sugar. (I skipped the step since my daughter prefers subtly sweet stuff.)
* Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
* Starting from the wider side, roll it tightly. Roll the log a couple of times with your palms to make sure that it is not opening up.
* Cut them into one inch pieces.
(This size yields the actual palm sized biscuits sold at the bakeries and that's what is shown in the images. I realized in between that they are going to be big and instead cut into 1/2" pieces which yield two inches biscuits. 1/4" inch cuts should yield smaller sized biscuits if you are looking to portion control.)
* Again dust the work surface with flour. Gently press each cut portion into a disc and roll into thin ovals. Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle sugar. (I did it on both sides.)
* Arrange them on a greased or foil lined baking sheet until the tops start turning golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
So far on A - Z Andhra Cuisine,
A for Alasanda Vada
B for Bellam Garelu
C for Chiyali
D for Dondakaaya Kaarapu Kaaya
E for Endu Kobbari Podi