Remember New Year’s Eve? After seven head-numbing cocktails and looking enviously at everyone else in their slim-fit jeans, you promised yourself that starting tomorrow you were never going to look at another potato chip as long as you lived. For real.
But now it’s halfway through January, you’re tired of eating those carrot sticks when the munchies hit, and each day it’s getting just a little harder to ignore that vending machine at work.
Well, says that little voice in your head, how bad could it be to have just one teeny packet of chips, just today?
Before you go scouring the bottom of your purse for change, sit back and take a deep breath. I have for you today a snack that will not only beat those cravings, but it’s delicious, wholegrain, almost fat-free and protein-rich too, all of which makes it the best food to eat on a diet ever. Masala Khakhras.
Khakhras are a very traditional food from India’s capital of savory snacks: Gujarat. Over the years, farsan, as these snacks are collectively known, have become popular nosh all around India and especially in Bombay which is home to a huge Gujarati population. When I was growing up in the city, us kids would wait eagerly every Thursday afternoon for the Farsanwalla to make the rounds of the neighborhood. He was a beautiful sight. On his head was a huge wicker basket filled with glass jars of every kind of farsan you could imagine: Yellow, crispy gathia, deep-fried chickpea nuggets. Squiggly, crunchy sev, another deep-fried, angel-hair-like treat that you might have eaten if you’ve ever had bhel. Chivda, a mix of flattened rice flakes, peanuts, coconut and spices. And so on.
Even if mom didn’t actually buy anything from the Farsanwalla (and my hygiene-conscious mom never did), it was heartening to know you were in the presence of treats as wondrous as these.
One of those wondrous treats, usually not deep fried, was Khakhra.
A Khakhra is, at its very basic, a very thinly rolled disc of wheat flour and spices. It is crispy, savory and incredibly fabulous, which makes it a perfect replacement for that crispy, savory and incredibly fabulous potato chip. The Masala Khakhra I have for you today is extra delicious and extra healthy, because I added to it some chickpea flour and other yummy ingredients, like chaat masala.
Making a khakhra is supremely easy, but you do need to exercise a tiny bit of technique when it comes to rolling out the dough– you need to make it super thin. Otherwise, you will have a roti rather than a khakhra on your hands, because it just won’t get very crispy. It will still be delicious, though.
Okay, okay, I know those hunger pangs are driving you crazy, so I’ll let you go now. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour or besan
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp ajwain seeds or carom seeds
- 1 tsp chaat masala (optional)
- 1/4 cup kasoori methi or dry fenugreek leaves
- 1 tsp oil
- Salt to taste
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and use enough water to knead into a fairly stiff dough.
- Let the dough stand for about 30 minutes so it relaxes.
- Take a ball of the dough, about 1 inch in diameter. Using a little oil on the surface of the platform, or a tiny bit of flour, roll the ball into a very thin disc, about 6 to 7 inches in diameter. The thinner you roll it, the crispier your khakhra will be.
- Heat a griddle and place the khakhra on it. When bubbles appear all over the khakhra, flip it and, using a clean, balled-up kitchen towel, press down on the bubbles, rotating the khakhra as you go.
- When golden-brown spots appear on both sides, remove and let it cool completely on a rack. The khakhra will firm up as it stands.