April 9, 2010
The thought of mathri transports me to the halls and laws on Sarojini Bhawan where my girlfriends and I spent many winter afternoons lounging about and feasting on the mathri and achaar sent by one sweet mom or another. That, along with Mahesh Ji’s chai, highly sweet and kadi, the kind I would not drink today, were the stuff our sun-touched days were made of. We all treasure those memories so much that even our e-group is called mathri-achaar!
Then, after I got married to this guy from Rajasthan, I got to taste the savory heaven that is MIL’s mathri. Whenever she is visiting, she makes a small batch, despite my loud protestations of not wanting to eat deep-fried foods, but then somehow, that small batch vanishes surprisingly fast at the hands of DH and yours truly. MIL only smiles knowingly.
So when Pink God posted a recipe from Nani ji for making mathri, I could not resist and wanted to make some too. But I also wanted the taste that MIL’s mathri has. So I called MIL and followed her recipe instead (which is fairly close to what Anjana posted with small differences)
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup maida (all purpose flour)
1/4 cup sooji (semolina)
1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
about a 1/4 cup warm water for dough
salt to taste
1/2 tsp ajwain (carom seeds)
Oil for frying
In a parat (wide, deep plate), mix all the flours, salt and ajwain.
Heat the ghee a little bit if it is solid and then add it to the parat.
Rub this mixture with your hands for a good ten to fifteen minutes. The fat should be very well incorporated with the flour. This step is very important as this is what makes the mathri khasta, or flakey.
Make dough with a small amount of lukewarm water. The dough should not be soft.
Divide the dough into small balls, and using your rolling pin (belan), roll out small roundels.
With a fork, pierce each roundel multiple times. This ensure that the mathris will not puff when you fry them in oil. I think if the dough is really tight, that should anyway not happen, but I did this step anyway.
Heat oil and reduce the heat to medium low. Fry the mathris in batches of 5 or 6. Do not overcrowd them in the pan. Also, frying on medium low is very important. You don’t want to fry the mathris on high heat as then they will quickly brown on the outside but will not be cooked from the inside.
For me each batch of mathri took about 8 to 10 minutes and my mathris did not change color too much. These were dark initially because of the partial use of whole wheat flour instead of maida. If you want to further darken them, then you could use Anjana’s technique of raising the temperature of the oil towards the end and then bringing it down before putting in the next batch. With my glass top cooking surface, I am not able to quickly change the temperature so I did not do that. I also liked the color that my mathris came out to be in any case so it worked out.
The resulting mathris were approved by DH who is a mathri purist and used to only like the ones that his Mom made. We enjoyed them with home made lemon and mango pickles. There is something about mathri-achaar, I tell ya…