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Friday, September 13, 2019

Methi Khakhra

These 'not so perfectly shaped' khakhras hands down win 'the most time taking recipe' among the lot that I has ever tried cooking in my kitchen. Maybe because it was a regional preparation that I did not have any first hand reference to, I don't know. In the time I cooked these, I could have walked, to my local "Patel brothers' store, bought varieties of khakhra and came back home, twice. Even though the recipe tested my patience and time, the silver lining had been that the khakhras were thin and crisp. I think it is hard for beginners to replicate the machine made, commercially sold khakhras that come with a uniform hue through out.

Khakhras are thin, crisp crackers that are made with wheat flour, that are eaten along with tea in the mornings or as a snack both in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Khakhras are sold / made both in plain and flavorful versions like methi/fenugreek green, garlic, mint, and other innovative versions. The modern versions are made with other flours too. They were traditionally made with left over rotis. Or if starting from scratch, the dough prepared is the same as roti dough base, plain or flavors added and they are rolled super thin. They are lightly toasted once, allowed to cool down and again toasted until they turn crisp. It was mentioned in the recipe that I followed that all the lightly toasted rotis would be neatly stacked over one another on the tawa, pressing down applying pressure on the top one while the bottom ones gets crisp. The bottom one will get removed once it turns crisp and the process continues until all are turned into crisp khakhras. I don't think people nowadays have the patience to make these when they are easily available commercially. 

The concept of 'rotis to khakhras' has always been intriguing to me as a non-local and I have always wondered whether the commercially sold version can be replicated at home. If it can be then I marvel at the skilled expertise of those who can do so. We always keep stock of varieties of khakhras bought from store and so until now I never thought of going through the hassle of making them at home since they are easily accessible. While I was planning non fried and guilt-free Gujarati snacks for this week, I thought of giving them a try. The methi khakhras I tried were crispy and kinda tasted plain though they were fenugreek flavored. I know this was my first and last attempt at making khakhras but retrospectively the experience was not bad but it was time consuming and one needs to be in front of the stove constantly. Some of the tips I gathered along the way.

1. Roll the rotis very very thin. I could have easily rolled mine some more thinner but didn't realize at that time but my khakhras were thin anyway.
2. Cut the rolled out dough discs into perfect circles using a sharp rimmed plate. Everyone cannot roll uniformly sized, perfect circles. Mine looked fairly fine shaped when they were rotis but once they were toasted to khakhras, I could see the imperfect edges.
3. The locals use a khakhra press, a wooden disc with a handle to press the khakhras. In lieu of it, a potato masher / rolled kitchen towel works fine. I tried my athirasam / arisela press and after a while, it started to hurt holding the press in the same position. I used a rolled paper towel instead since I didn't want to stain my kitchen towel.
4. Khakhras are toasted on low flame. My first one took about 40 minutes to cook that way and there was not a single brown spot. And then I figured it out that khakhras can be made interchanging the heat setting from low to medium and vice versa, as required. I browned my last khakra at the center on purpose.
5. Use a tawa / low rimmed pan that is slightly concave which gives the khakhras their distinct shape. There is no need to worry if one doesn't own that kind of pan. Also place a pot or something on the khakhras when done to retain the depression at the center. (I did not do it. This is a tip from blogger friend, Vaishali which I noticed after I had made these.)
Recipe source: Here
Ingredients: (Yield - 6 khakra)
1/4 cup washed and roughly chopped fenugreek greens / methi
1 cup wheat flour / chapati atta + extra for dusting
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp. chili powder or green chili paste (adjust to taste)
2 tbsp. oil 
1 tsp. melted ghee / oil for greasing

* Add fenugreek greens, flour, salt, turmeric powder, chili powder / green chili paste and 2 tbsp. oil to a mixing bowl.
* Mix the ingredients well with hand and add water in slow increments and make a soft, pliable dough like chapati / roti dough.
* Allow the batter to rest for about 30 minutes. Add about 1/2 tsp. oil and knead the dough for a minute until smooth. Divide the dough into 6 to 8 equal sized balls.
* Flatten a ball while keeping the other balls covered.
* Roll each ball into a circle, as thin as possible. (I easily could have rolled them even thinner as the recipe needed but somehow I did not.) Use flour if needed for dusting. 
* Roll out all the balls into circles and keep them aside. Mine were not sticking to each other and so I piled them. One can always spread them individually on a wide plate to avoid sticking. 
* Heat lightly a tawa or a lightly concave pan. Don't make it too hot. Place a rolled out disc on it.
* Our purpose is here not to make a roti and so, when it starts to dry and just bubbles start to from, flip it.
* Cook the other side as well until bubbles starts to form. There is no need to cook until you see the spots. 
This is how we need it, lightly toasted without any spots. Finish toasting all the discs this way. This step doesn't take much time.
* Grease on both sides of the prepared rotis, with oil / ghee very lightly. Just very lightly. Let them cool.
* Now comes the part which demands some patience and time. Turning the rotis into crisp khakras. Start from a low flame and keep interchanging the heat between low and a little more higher setting as you keep cooking. Our goal here is not let the bubbles form and turn the soft roti real crisp. Place a partially cooked roti on the warm tawa and when ever you notice bubbles keep pressing them with a khakra press, kitchen towel or a potato masher, whatever works for you.
* Start pressing along the edges first and then keep going to center of the roti. Keep pressing down any bubble that starts to form.
* Flip and keep doing the same step as above.
* (In the middle of it, I realized a paper towel works best.) Pay attention to the heat and keep pressing until it turns crisp. (I took more than 30 minutes for the first one since I did it on the lowest flame possible on my gas stove, through out the process. When I got a hang of it, I realized I could increase the heat and can keep adjusting as needed. I made my first five khakhras patiently without a brown spot.)
* Repeat the process with the remaining rotis. Store them in an airtight container once they cool down.
* Serve them with tea and pickle / methia masala.

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Srivalli said...

I remember trying these for the ICC and it had turned out pretty well for my first try. I agree it's not something one would want to make at home again when the store bought ones are very good and effortless. However, I agree some dishes are meant to be just tried once and then we carry on. Your version looks pretty nicely done Suma. I know it is a lot of effort, but for the Mega BM theme, we always would want to try new ones right...

vaishali sabnani said...

Kudos ! Beautiful crisp khakhras ! Suma , making khakhras is tedious , and even I don’t make them , but you shall see a simpler method that my friend has taught me . Here we have special ladies who make khakhras on irder , which taste really good , better than the machine ones . Time and patience are very important and you have given your best !
Live the detailed notes .

Harini R said...

OMG! You really have a lot of patience to make kharkhras at home. I knew they were time consuming to make and never even researched them. They look perfectly made.

Amara’s cooking said...

Wow Suma!!!! These khakras need a lot of patience and you did an amazing job making them perfect. I've seen these being made by a friends mom in New Jersey. After seeing its tedious process, I didn't even dare.

sushma said...

Wow Khakras have turned out so well Suma. Very nice pick

Narmadha said...

you have made it so good and it looks so delicious.