Monday, 4 April 2011


As the new year approaches, my grandmother and greataunt start stocking shelves with quick munches to serve with sweets, for all the people who drop by for wishes and blessings. There's the buzz of a hive in the house, with each room being stripped bare, one per day, and everything from bedclothes to curtains to rugs to furniture having the dust and grime spanked off them with scrubs and polish and soap-water. After-lunch and after-dinner hours are full of kneading and rolling, and stuffing and frying, and dipping in thick sugar syrup.

Well, they did do all that, but in the last century. My great aunt is eighty-one this year, my grandmother is no more, and the once-bustling place now houses two souls with their bags packed. Most faces from my childhood have already crossed the great divide, and the rest are either scattered all over or prefer lunch at Kabab Factory to ring in the new year. I would prefer it too, for cooking a five-course meal for two people simply doesn't have that old world bustle and charm, except I always go over to see my great aunt on new year's. And this time, I'm taking her something she taught me to make.

Flour, sunflower/canola oil, sugar, salt, jowan/ajwain/carom seeds, mouri/fennel/saunf.

How to:

Make a nice, stretchy dough. First mix in a pinch of salt and sugar to your tastes. Add half a teaspoon of carom seeds (jowan) for ever 100 gm of flour, and the same f mouri (fennel seeds). Carom imparts a tangy flavour with a sharp aftertaste, while fennel provides a sweet subtext. So vary quantities depending on which flavour you want to dominate -- I use just a pinch less of fennel.

Then add oil, roughly two teaspoons of oil per 150gms of flour (this is called moyaan). After the oil has been unevenly mixed in, add the water.

Make little balls (lechi) from this big lump, smooth them in between the palm of your hand, and roll them out till they're reasonably circular, and just above the stage of being translucently thin. Take a knife and make one cut, from edge to the centre.

Now start rolling the rolled-out dough on itself, starting from the cut and going around in a circle till it comes back to the cut. It'll take a slightly queer, if pretty, shape.

I might as well mention here that this step is not strictly necessary in making nimki. But this is how you make layered (lachchha) paratha at our place, and since my mother was in the kitchen when I was making this, she showed me how to get the layers in the layered paratha.

Now, flatten that strange flour cone. It'll now look like a seashell.

Sprinkle a little flour on it or rub the rolling board with a little oil, and roll this seashell out into the closest approximation of a circle.

 My first try went well. Definitely round.

The second was a bit heart-shapey. Still, I could always claim I meant to do it this way. Fashionable shape, hearts.

Especially since, once the top half is fried, it begins to look like peninsular Africa.

You'll notice how mercilessly each piece of dough has been slashed. Zorro is in the house (with a rusted three-inch blade).

Anyway, what you now need to do is to heat two cups of oil (or more, depending), turn down the heat to medium or low when it's hot, and fry batches of those little diamonds made by your swashbucking kitchen-knifery. Drain carefully, either at the side of the wok with a chyanta (the perforated spatulas, I don't know the English word) or on kitchen towels, and serve with a cup of non-fruity, non-herbal, honest-to-goodness Indian or Sri Lankan tea :-)


Dea-chan said...

Did I seriously not comment on this before? Whoops -- well, I love fried things and this looks tasty!

But I was really popping over to say this: remember how T made that fabulous meal and you were all like "oh honeychile, I'm thinking his food is better"? My most recent post is the menu that me and Maya have planned for the two boys. :-D

kaichu said...

I love you for this one and hate you too. You always seem to know just what I'm craving and post those.

Except, I am scared of making dough and associated fried doughy things like luchi, porota, nimki etc. Scared of making the actual dough that is, not frying it. So I never do. But salivate/hahakarofy whenever I read posts like these.


Also, the bit at the beginning. Such atmosphere, wimilet. Almost brought tears to my eyes, the following paragraph.

And I hope she *loved* them when you brought them over. Or haven't you yet?

Magically Bored said...

Homemade nimkis are the best. Can't stand the stuff in shops. My Dida makes awesome nimkis. Yum. :D