I have just finished unpacking the last of bags from a month long trip to Delhi. The household is slowly settling to routine, the little one is back to her usual sleep schedule and yesterday I could manage a batch of these cookies while she napped.
Tea time in India is special, though not british like,but in its own way. From gossip sessions with the neighbor to prepping for exams the next day or just as a way to relax, the ubiquitous chai shadows each and every aspect of day today indian life. Something said to taste better with company, chai is usually served with piping hot fritters, indian trail mixes or cookies (better called biscuits).
I grew up sipping overly milky, cloyingly sweet and richly spiced chai, something which I kind of got addicted to over years. Morning tea was accompanied by rusks but in the evening, while everybody liked their chai with samosas,I dunk those salty-sweet jeera biscuits which mom got every now and then from a bakery near home.
Bakery biscuits back home are quite a thing, they taste different from the usual packaged cookies you get in the grocery stores, they look rustic, taste homely and make you feel gluttony. I guess thats the whole point there, its the non- consistent taste and look that makes them so special. Unlike fancy ingredients like chocolate chips or vanilla (yes), they are loaded with nuts, whole wheat flours and loads and loads of ghee.
I am not much of a cookie person but I m partial towards these. These biscuits are more salty than sweet (which is what I like about them),crumbly thanks to copious amount of butter and the warm,woody aroma of the cumin seeds scattered in the dough is what makes them so whimsical.
Honestly, I prefer these cookies slightly over baked, when they are more crunchy than crumbly but that's just me, the original ones which you get in India are chewy in the center even when baked through.It took me a quite a lot of attempts to scribble this recipe, hope you like it.
Jeera Biscuits - Eggless Cumin Cookies
- 1.5 cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup fine semolina
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 8 tablespoon unsalted butter cold, cut into cubes
- 3 tablespoon any neutral oil
- 3-5 tablespoon cold milk as needed, to bring together the dough
- In a bowl, sift the flour, semolina, sugar, salt, baking powder & soda together.
- Add the sifted flour mixture in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the cumin seeds & cold butter cubes. Pulse for a minute or so till the butter becomes pea sized.
- Remove the metal blade and fit the dough blade into the jar.Add the oil.
- Start the processor and add cold milk 1 tablespoon at a time till the dough just comes together.Stop.The dough might be slightly sticky but thats okay.
- Take out the dough and bring it together on a floured surface. Don't knead.
- Divide into two equal portions. Form logs with each portion. Wrap the logs in a parchment sheets or plastic cling films. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes till firm and ready to be cut into slices.
- Preheat oven to 325F/ 165C. Line cookies sheet with parchment/ wax paper. You might need 2 baking sheets or you can bake them in two batches.
- While the oven is preheating, take out the cold dough logs and using a sharp knife, cut cookies about ¼" thick. Try to cut as uniform size as possible. Do not cut very thick slices else cookies will be raw while baking.
- Arrange the cookies on the sheet about 2" apart. Bake in the preheated oven for 18-22 minutes till the cookie bases start turning brown and the top changes color. I personally like my cookies slightly overdone so I baked them for few extra minutes.
- Let cool on the sheet before storing them in air tight containers for up to 2 weeks. Serve with hot tea or coffee.