Thursday, 26 December 2013

Masala Chips or is that Curried Crackers?

Masala Chips Curried Crackers

Making your own crackers sounds unnecessary in modern times, until you read the ingredients of your favourite snacks.  Trans-fats, preservatives, white flour, queer names you can’t even pronounce…

Making your own isn’t that difficult, in fact it’s fun if you’re creative.  This recipe makes crackers with Indian spices, but you can change them up and use whichever spices you most enjoy.  I’ll suggest some other combinations toward the bottom of this recipe.  I plan to make more to go with my famous red pepper dip for my sister’s birthday party, and I’ll update this post with those pictures, when that’s all done.

Meanwhile, the Indian version.  I got this idea from Viji’s food blog at  but I’ve taken liberties, as usual.  The chick pea flour adds to the protein levels and overall nutrition of these babies, and it’s tasty too.
Roast a few minutes, till fragrant.

This takes about an hour in total time, and makes about three cups, depending on size.  Heat oven to 400 F.  (Updated from 200 F after they didn't cook properly the next time I made them!  Mixed up Celcius and Fahrenheit!  So sorry!)

1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon fennel seed
¼ teaspoon fine fenugreek seed
¼ teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes (or to taste)
20 grates fresh black pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric powder

½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour plus extra for rolling out
½ cup chick pea flour
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup hot water  

2 tablespoons sesame seed
2 tablespoons nigella seed
sprinklings Kosher salt

First, dry roast the whole spices in a small pan on medium heat.  Within a couple of minutes they start to become fragrant, add the turmeric at that point, brush around a bit to mix them, and remove from heat.
Mix the salt, flours, oil and roasted spices.  Slowly add the water while stirring the dough.  I use my hand, moving in little circles.  Once it’s a soft dough, cover with a damp towel and set aside for fifteen minutes.  Meanwhile, get out cookie trays and line with parchment paper.

My one good cookie cutter...
After dough has rested, divide into two balls.  Cover the remaining ball while working the first ball.  Roll it out into an oblong, as thin as you dare go.  Be sure to have lots of flour underneath, so it doesn’t stick, and flip from time to time to make sure it will come off the counter easily.

Once it’s almost thin enough, sprinkle with the sesame and nigella, and then cautiously sprinkle salt crystals here and there, so that each cracker will have just a few.  Then continue to roll till it’s as thin as possible.

Viji used pretty cookie cutters, so I went on a hunt for mine.  Although mine go back thirty maybe forty years, every Christmas a few get left out somewhere, and are put back into different spots.  The result is that this year I found one good cookie cutter, and a bag of useless devices. 

When I gave up and started hand cutting...
Bravely I used my cookie cutters, keeping in mind that crackers have to be same sizes to cook evenly.  My first batch had no extra seeds on top, and were all gingerbread men shapes.  The next batch included the extra seeds on top, but were gingerbread shapes and diamonds, hand cut.  The next batch involved just a few stars until I got mad and made them all diamond shapes, hand cut.  

Use a thin spatula to lift each shape and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Leave a little space around each.  Bake at 200 F for about ten minutes.  They will puff up slightly, and should turn just a light golden tan.

Let cool slightly, then place on racks to cool completely. 

On Saturday I intend to make these with two cups of whole wheat, skipping the chick pea flour.  I’ll use cumin, fennel, chili flakes and smoked paprika for my spice blend. 

Toppings will still include sesame, nigella and Kosher salt, but I’ll make some with poppy seed and maybe a little grated Parmesan cheese as well.  I will take pics and update.  Should I bring my camera to the party?  

I piled these up only after they were completely cooled!

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