Thursday, April 12, 2012

Baked Nimki - Crisp Savory Indian Crackers

Life is more chaotic than ever during the summer break , obviously not a time I look forward to.  I am certainly not one of those mothers who wait for school holidays so that the they can get a break from the usual rush which is part of school days.  I envy mothers whose kids actually help take care of the younger ones and run little errands for them as well.  In fact, I have a friend whose older daughter takes care of her younger one as she does her home-work - while my friend takes a siesta! Of course I keep telling her that her children are abnormal ;)  Normal are kids like mine who barely keep from tearing at each others' hair and don't even think about doing H.W unless I threaten an hour in the bathroom -  no (story) books.  

During the holidays,  I spend most of my energy for mundane cooking, work , resolving conflicts between the kids, occasionally taking them out for small outings in the evening and feeling guilty about not giving them more time and attention.  I tip my toque to mothers who efficiently manage all of these.  You will find me constantly looking heavenward (praying for patience and sanity mostly, other things will be a bonus!) and feeling bad for myself for not being regular with posts on the blog (now, that is a minor tragedy for a blogger!).  For the umpteenth time in the day I sigh and tell myself,  I am not cut out to be the best mother around.  Reality then knocks on the door loudly and priorities shift - thankfully only temporarily. 

Food, specially  munchies are such  temptation to bored kids and stressed mothers, don't you agree? When the ever-hungry kids demand snacks at very regular intervals, I put some  in bowls for them and before I know some end up in my mouth.  ( By the way do the needles of your weighing scales too zoom to the  right after these holidays? ) 

I love eating at homes of folk of a different culture as you invariably get to eat something new, relish it thoroughly and ask for the recipe.  I have eaten this ajwain flecked deep-fried crispy snack called Nimki at a friend's place and had a sudden urge to convert this recipe into Nimki.  Crispy, light and tasty, the results were not bad at all!  If you have not heard of nimki, its basically made out of flour, spices like kalonji, pepper, ajwain, some fat goes into the dough and then the cookies are deep-fried. But, let me warn you, these baked nimkis will not taste exactly the same as the deep-fried ones, but are definitely good.  A lighter version of  nimki , sans a whole lot more fat. You could play around with the spices here and create a different version - but then don't forget to share your recipe variation with me! 

 Here is how I did it.

Recipe adapted from `Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients ( to make about 25-30 bite sized nimkis , about 1  3/4 '' diameter approx)

All purpose flour  -  1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons / 115 grams
Salt  - scant (less than) 1/2 teaspoon
Baking powder  - 1/2 teaspoon
Ajwain (carom seeds)  - 1/2 teaspoon
Freshly crushed black pepper  - 1/2 teaspoon
Oil  -  2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons
Water  -  1/4 cup
Extra flour for dusting
Ghee or clarified butter - 1 teaspoon for cheating brushing on top (optional)
Procedure: Pre-heat oven to 230 degrees C  / 450 degrees F.  Lightly grease and line your baking trays or sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Mise en place.  Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt  and crushed crushed pepper into a large bowl. Mix in the ajwain.  Make a well in the center, add the oil and water.  Mix gently to bring the dough together to form a rough ball.  You may at first think that you have added too much liquid
but it will just  make a very soft, slightly oily dough.  Knead it very gently 4-5 times NOT minutes. Divide the dough into 2-3 portions. Flour the work surface very lightly. Take one portion of the dough, keep the other portions covered to prevent from drying out.

Gently, roll out each portion into a circle about 2mm thick. (I will roll it into a square next time as it will give me even pieces without any scarps) Lift the rolled dough gently and lightly flour the counter and the rolling pin as needed.  Dip a sharp round cookie cutter into some flour and cut out small rounds. You could also use a pizza cutter to cut into diamond shapes or squares. Transfer the cut pieces to the baking tray(s). I pricked some with a fork and some without.  Bake for 11-12 minutes or till very lightly golden around the edges and very light golden on top. Do not over-bake or let them brown a lot. Watch very carefully after 10 minutes as you would be baking these at a high temperature. Bake a test batch of 2-3 cookies to see how long it takes in your oven. Once baked and still hot, very lightly brush the cookies with ghee .  Allow the cookies to cool completely and store in an air-tight container.  Enjoy with your evening tea!  

Please note : Avoid adding more spices later after mixing the dough as over-mixing may result in less light cookies. You could use the left over scraps to re-roll and bake cookies, but they will not be as light, but still tasty.

Check another variation of the same recipe here


Hamaree Rasoi said...

Gosh !! after so many years I could found someone who threatens the child to lock inside the bathroom like me (for H.W) ! LOL These summer vacations are torture for me ;-)
But that doesn't make us bad mother dear...So chill
These baked nimkis are guilt free and very good tea time munchies...

Hamaree Rasoi

simran said...

i agree with you every step of the way!!!!so that makes you a normal mom!....nice idea to bake the nimkis...lovely pics.

Anonymous said...

Crunchy and yummy nimki...

Cuisine Delights
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Prema said...

wow delicious and flavourful recipe,luks so perfect.

Nivedita Thadani said...

the whole bowl is for me :-)))))
simply superb

Priyanka said...

You sound like my sister complaining about her kids tearing each others hair apart :)
We are waiting for them to reach Delhi so that they have company to enjoy their holidays and the hair is still intact when they join school next month.

The recipe sounds so much like 'mathri' we make at home. Will definitely give a try to the baked version...looks the same and is sooo much healthier. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Priya Suresh said...

Excellent nimki, feel like munching some..

Sayantani Mahapatra Mudi said...

my son just started school (mean big school) and am not sure how I should feel. am happy that now he would have his own world and am also excited that i will get a big chunk of time for myself. but when I just shared this with other mothers they looked at me in such a way as if i dont deserve be a mother at the first place.
I can totally think of your situation as spending the whole day and taking care of a baby all the times sometimes drives me crazy. I love him to death but some me time does not harm anybody I guess. perfect nimkis suma. bookmarked.
btw made no knead spicy buns and it was awesome. thanks for the recipe.

Unknown said...

Wow baked version is a lovely idea...looks yum

Sum said...

Very nice looking nimkis, Suma...

Archana said...

So glad to meet you again, as I am not the only person who lacks patience with my kids, Looks heavenward, threatens and in short hates vacations. Perfect. No bathrooms here though they will drain all thewater.

Love the nimki. Will make them soon as sanely possible after the vacations preferably to avoid all help.... :D

Zareena said...

Looks realy yummy. Nice clicks. Bookmarked.

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

Beautiful, I would love to taste.

Anonymous said...

Simple and looks tasty