Indian shortbread cookie
Acchha laga Bhabiji ? ” Did you like it Bhabiji “? Her anxious eyes looking at me for approval. “Munni” is the household help at my SIL”s place. She spoils us everytime I visit my SIL.
As I took a bite of the Thekua I was transported to my University days. Staying away from home the first time, Ma always worried about food. Not entirely convinced I got my favourite snacks, she used to send homemade treats for me, treats that had a longer shelf life. “Thekua” made frequent visits to my dormroom. My forever-hungry roommates cut Thekua’s life short.
Tackling the rogue aniseed from between my teeth, I nod my head. I was relishing the liquorice taste that filled my mouth. Satisfied that I like her creation, Munni moves on to her next chore, washing clothes, tending the garden, getting groceries. The helping hand in my Prairie kitchen does very well in doing dishes and clothes, Miss Whirlpool hasn’t tried her nuts-and-bolts in making Thekua though!
..The days have started getting shorter. There is a chill in the air. The blankets are left out on the sun, so they are more comfortable at night. This transition of seasons reminds me of ‘Chhath’ – a festival celebrated by some in India, traditionally in November. Our neighbour Renu, would always bring some treats for us, her long platts neatly tied with matching ribbons. We were half expecting her to do the same this year, as she always used to. Chhath is a festival where the devotees worship the sun, the god of energy and of life force. The rituals are rigorous. Devotees abstain from drinking water, offer prayers to the rising and setting sun, standing knee deep in water. Thekua is a revered offering during this festival.
All purpose flour (Maida) 2 Cups
Sugar 1 cup
Semolina 2 Tbsps
Baking soda a small pinch,
Aniseed 1 Tbsp,
Ghee 2 Tbsps
Mix the dry ingredients first ,mix in the ghee next, then add lukewarm water little by little, to make a dough. If the dough ends up being a bit sticky, sprinkle a bit flour to make it right. Divide the dough into 16 pieces. shape them in any way you like. Traditionally moulds are available, like the one I used here. I sat the dough ball in between two moulds ,to get two designs on either sides. Shallow fry them in oil.
Let it cool down completely. It hardens a bit. You can box it up for a cookie exchange or surprise your family.
1. For a healthier version, wholewheat can be used. Grated coconut, raisins can be added in the mix. Semolina can be found in Indian grocery stores.
2. Bhabiji is how an elder brother’s wife is addressed to.
3 .SIL: Sister in law.
4.Ghee is clarified butter, available in the world food section in most grocery stores.