Rice flour never tasted so good before

Pahila diva aaj lage dari
Sukhache kiran yei ghari
Purna howot tumchya sarva ichha
Tumha sarvanna deepavali chya hardik shubhechya!


Today is Dhanatroyadashi, the first day of Diwali. The day on which families are supposed to buy gold. This morning, I dropped my gold off at school and then went with another kind of gold to the bank. At 8:40am, a really smartly dressed woman who walked into the bank with me told me they didn't open for another 20 minutes. Huh? And I thought my bank opened at 8am. I cursed my luck, tugged at my messy hair, rubbed my sleepy eyes and wandered off to Sam's Club to pick up meatballs, spaghetti and Bertolli's organic pasta sauce that I needed for the teachers lunch today. As soon as the bank opened, I was there. Maybe it's because dollars don't shine as bright as gold anymore but my check couldn't be cashed because it wasn't signed. I didn't notice it and obviously my client didn't either, an honest mistake! Is the universe trying to tell me something here, I wondered. I certainly hope it is not saying what I think it is!

I am a day ahead. That is what the universe was trying to tell me! Dhanatroydashi is tomorrow! Duh.


I made a batch of chaklis yesterday. It is high time this recipe made it to my blog from the back of Medha's lunch calendar where it was hastily scribbled during a long distance call almost four years ago. Pushpamaushi, my aunt, makes the best chaklis I have ever eaten. She always got them just right: crispy and crunchy, yet not the muruku kind of crunchy.

Chakli

  • 2 tbsp urad dal
  • 1/8 tsp methi seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • pimch asafetida
  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 1 and 3/8 cups maida or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ghee
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3/4 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1-2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 3/4 cup water or as needed
  • Oil to deep-fry

  1. Lightly toast the urad dal, methi seeds, cumin and asafetida. Allow to cool and then grind into a powder.


    From top left: Urad, methi, asafetida, cumin



  2. Mix this powder with the two flours and the rest of the dry ingredients. Then rub the ghee into this mix to get a crumb-like texture. Similar to what you do when trying to make pastry.

     
    Mound of crumbs


  3. Knead the flour using only as much water as required until it stops falling apart. The dough should be soft but not sticky.


     
    If your dough looks like this, it needs some more kneading.


  4. Line a cutting board with wax paper.
  5. Heat oil in a kadhai.
  6. Remember this kitchen tool from my heirloom post? It's called a chakli maker or a kitchen press. We need to use the disc with the star-shaped cutout.



    Star

    Fill the cylinder to about three quarters of its depth with the dough. Fit the lid and turn the handle to press the dough out through the star shaped cutout onto the wax paper.

  7. Shape the pressed dough into a spiral as it comes out. I prefer to make small chaklis as they are easier to handle and fry. Break off the end and press it lightly into the previous coil so that it doesn't come apart later.


     
    Shaping the chaklis


  8. Pick up the chakli with a turner and quickly slide it into the hot oil.


     
    Swimming, swimming, let's go swimming

    Chaklis will rise to the top initially and start sinking as they cook. Turn them over as they start to sink. And continue to fry on medium high heat until they are a reddish gold in color. If you don't fry them well, they will have a soft center and that will take away from the overall texture and flavor. But be careful that you don't fry them too much because rice flour does not taste very good when it begins to burn.

  9. Remove from the oil when done, about 2-3 minutes in all for a batch of 4 chaklis, and drain on paper towels.






  10. Allow to cool completely before eating and store in an air-tight container. Serve with tea or coffee or keep the container out on your kitchen counter and watch them disappear.

This recipe makes about 40-45 small chaklis.


Notes:
  • My aunt's recipe had a ratio of 2:1:1/2 for rice flour:maida:ghee. My dough seemed to be smooth enough but it started falling apart as I tried to make the coils. I kept adding an eighth cup of maida until it reached a consistency where it was possible to press the chaklis out smoothly. Once I had added 3/8 cups of maida, it seemed to be almost perfect. The more maida that is added, the crunchiness changes to a harder crunch than a khoosh-khooshith kind of melt in your mouth crunch. I am not sure if it is the altitude or the quality of the ingredients that makes a difference. Just remember that if the chakli can't be coiled around itself to make a spiral shape because it breaks easily, you need more maida in your dough.
  • Add more red chilli powder to make it more spicy.
  • If you don't have this kitchen tool, you can order it off the net or ask your local Indian grocery store if they carry it.
  • Medha likes to eat the uncooked dough. Does anyone see a pattern here? 

By popular demand - ok, only Anita - I am extending the deadline for IFR: Memories to October 31. So if you haven't written yet, put on your thinking caps and write your best post ever. The goal is to have a well-written post and not a post you churned out because you had to. There are some beautifully written and eloquent posts that have been submitted. I  am looking forward to yours!

Update: I am sending these chaklis to Meeta's Monthly Mingle, hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen. The theme is High Tea. Join us!

14 comments:

Jen Yu said...

This is a savory snack? Fascinating. I wish I could hover about in your kitchen while you cook. Mmmmm.

You wouldn't believe, but my dad mentioned Diwali to me. And then he told me he LOVES Bollywood movies! (!!!!)

!!!!

:)

xxoo

Sanghi said...

Wow.. delicious murukku. Love it! Excellent clicks.!

Aparna said...

A very Happy Diwali to you and family, especially that not-so-little bundle of gold. :)

This is a nice buttery, melty kind of crunch though I am partial to the "murukku" kind of crunch too.

Am staring my Diwali cooking today!

Purnima said...

Happy Diwali Manisha, n the chaklis sure look kush-kushit!!Am drooling over these, tks for the pictorial! :)

Abhi said...

Happy Diwali to all of you. Your chaklis look great. I remember having such chaklis with home-made butter (Loni) when in India. And of course, the kadbolis... We did make Murukkus (MTR Instant mix) and to jazz it up added some food color to different batches. Mohini loved that part, though the colors changed after being fried...

Jaya Wagle said...

Chakli does like good. Bought back memories of my dad pressing out the chakli and my mom frying it. I too don't like the murukku kinda crunchy. I prefer the khukhushit.
Thank you for the tip on shankarpale. I popped them in the oven when it was cooling down. It did crisp up.
Naralyachi vadi is up on the blog, though I have to warn you it is an instant version of my mom's arm aching but more delicious tasting recipe.

Jaya Wagle said...

Ok, I meant Chakli does look good. And that I like it. :)

Manisha said...

Happy Diwali to everyone!

Jen, I think it's hilarious that your Dad likes Bollywood movies! Medha loves them, too! Maybe we should have a Bollywood movie night so that we can ROTF together? I prefer old Hindi movies and some of the off-beat films to the stuff they churn out these days.

Sanghi, these are chaklis, different from murukkus, which I believe have a lot more urad dal? The press used is the same but the color, flavor, texture is very different.

Aparna, I love murukkus, too which I buy on a regular basis from the Indian store. I crave a good chakli but I have to make it to get it!

Purnima, they are very good! Could have been a little more tikhat as I used less chilli powder than I should have but that's OK!

Abhi, what fun! I told Medha about your murukku antics with Ms. Momo as she left for school this morning and she thought it was way cool! Rasachandrika has an involved recipe for chaklis - several different types of dals - and they use butter, too. Basically, any kind of shortening works and since ghee is solid at room temp for me, that's ideal - I don't have to plan in advance. :-D

Jaya, no worries, I get what you meant. So glad that your shankarpalya are crispy again! I love shortcuts that preserve the flavor of the original dish so I will look it up on your blog soon!

Anita said...

I made some today...but they didn't turn out too great. I wet the dough a tad too much and didn't have any more peeth so the project was doomed from the start. I think I will try your recipe next time - it is definitely simpler!

Thank you, for extending the deadline...I have a few ideas that have started to float. :)

Bollywood offerings are getting better lately - I really enjoyed Dev D; Delhi 6 and Kameeney were not bad either...

purplepaperplanes said...

Oh- Yum!!! I am craving some chakli. I thought I brought back a dough press thing this time from India. If I actually did- I definitely need to try making these chaklis.

And yay! for extended deadlines. I wanted to send something- but completely forgot about the deadline.

Lavanya

purplepaperplanes said...

These chaklis look a lot like mullu muruku (literally- murukus with thorns..lol). But I imagine they are less dense and a different kind of crunchy? It's been a while.

Oh and Happy Diwali!

Lavanya

Aparna said...

I'm happy you joined us for Tea. :)
I sent you a tweet saying I didn't get this, so please disregard that. :)

Shalini said...

So impressive....they look so professionally done!

Srivalli said...

They are so delicious!...