Friday, August 27, 2010

Sweet sand

Whether it is someone's birthday, a death anniversary or a religious holiday, people in my part of India - Bombay - distribute 'prasad' or offering for the occasion after a ceremony of singing holy songs. The treats vary from fresh fruits, samosas to cardamom cookies (naankhatai), but the most common is Satnaryanaan kutti wrapped in newspaper.

I grew up pretty ignorant of the religious aspect of this and other things, but the idea of offering food as a remembrance is brilliant because there is so much power in food. To this day if I concentrate diligently, I can still resurrect my grandmother's mango pickle on my tongue.

This kutti is really very interesting and delightful to eat. From a western perspective, it seems very strange to eat something that one would call an 'incomplete' dish - one would want to bind it and form it into something. But this is crumble-like, sandy, nutty and textured from peanuts, fragrant from cardamom, and just sweet. I think it can be described as a free-form cookie.

It is traditionally made from whole wheat flour, but it tastes just as good with spelt flour, which is easier to digest and nutritious. (My theory is that we eat too much wheat and need to consume less of it.) It also has a very tiny amount of butter, so I really don't think there's need for guilt here.

It is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee, and takes less than 5 minutes to make. This sweet treat is by far the fastest way to satisfaction.

Serves simply one

1/4 cup spelt flour or whole wheat flour
2 tsp salted butter
1 cardamom pod, slightly crushed
1/2 tbs sugar
1 tbs chopped unsalted peanuts

In a pan on medium heat, melt butter with cardamom and nuts for about 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the flour and sugar and stir until the flour is toasted and it is sweetly fragrant from the cardamom - about 2 - 3 minutes. When it turns to a light golden, turn off heat and serve in a bowl.

Eat with a spoon and accompanied with a cup of tea or coffee.

** If you would like to double it, do so, but continue on with just one cardamom pod, since cardamom is quite robust and carries a long way.

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