A mainstay in the sargi thaali and Diwali mithai, mathri (Indian equivalent of a salty cracker) is nothing but a deep-fried savoury flaky biscuit. Mathri is a versatile side-kick to both kadak chai and coffee. The invention of this traditional Rajasthani snack came about from the need to have foods that would stay edible for days without the need for being re-heated. Mathris can today be stored in air-tight containers for days at an end, if one doesn’t polish them off before!
Typically made with maida and semolina, and water, other ingredients such as cumin seeds, carom seeds, black peppercorns and ghee also find their way into the preparation of the firm dough. While the proportions of the spices may vary, the secret to making mathris lie in the kneading of its dough and how they’re fried. The end result being crisp, melt-in-the-mouth biscuits ready to be dunked in a hot cup of tea or coffee.
On account of being deep-fried in oil, mathris are often despised by the health-conscious. However, there are baked versions to remedy the situation. Besides, other alterations such as replacing maida with whole wheat flour or the addition of other ingredients such as methi, and palak can help add a heathy twist to mathri.
If you’re feeling a bit more experimental, you can substitute desi spices with herbs like basil, parsley and oregano. And if you’re looking for a fuller meal, you could simply pair these crackers with some tangy achaar—mango or lime pickles are the favoured partners in crime—or simply enjoy with hummus, chutneys or dips. You could also convert these traditional biscuits into canapes with toppings of choice or simply place another biscuit to make a cracker of a sandwich!
Here’s a step-by-step video by chef Ranveer Brar to help you master the mathri recipe:
For more on the mysteries of the Baniya community tune into the third season of LF’s Northern Flavours Shubh Vivah with chef Ajay Chopra, every Monday and Tuesday 2:00 pm onwards, only on LF.
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