These Savory Flaky Snacks Hold a Special Place During Diwali

These Savory Flaky Snacks Hold a Special Place During Diwali

Mathri is a delicious golden-brown, deep-fried savory snack, boasting subtle notes of fenugreek and carom (ajwain) seeds. Resembling the flakiness of puff pastry, a hallmark of quality mathri is the delicate cascade of flakes that shatters in your mouth upon each bite. The inclusion of ghee imparts both flakiness and a rich, delectable flavor to the mathri.

Food That Can Travel

While mathri hold a special place during Diwali, they are also a staple for various other occasions and are a must-have before embarking on journeys. If you've ever met a Gujarati, you're aware that we never venture far without our food. 

When we travel abroad, we always bring along our own provisions, as many of us adhere to a vegetarian diet, and finding suitable options can be a challenge. Mathri ranks among the top choices in our travel provisions because it is satiating, easy to eat, has a long shelf life, and pairs perfectly with a simple cup of tea.

In fact, mathri’s roots trace back to a time when people embarked on long journeys to reunite with relatives during Diwali. Given the long distances of these travels, a long shelf life was essential for any food that was brought along, making mathri a perfect option.

What Do You Need to Make Mathri?

Mathri requires just a handful of key ingredients: whole wheat or all-purpose flour, salt, ghee, carom seeds, kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), oil, and water. While some opt for wheat flour, others favor all-purpose flour. Some incorporate ingredients like semolina or gram (chickpea) flour to lend their unique touch.

How To Prepare Mathri

Crafting mathri is a straightforward process. Just mix together flour, salt, kasuri methi, ghee, carom seeds, and water to form the dough. It's crucial to note that the mathri dough isn’t kneaded into a soft, smooth consistency. Rather, the dough should be firm and rigid, as this is the key to getting the perfect texture.

Serving and Eating Mathri

Mathri taste excellent when paired with a cup of hot ginger chai, however many choose to eat it with mango pickle as well. Another side that pairs well with mathri is lasun (garlic) chutney . 

Tips for Making Mathri

  • Don’t over-knead—For that perfect jagged texture, skip the kneading and opt for a simple mix to bring the dough together. Repeat until it forms that desired texture.
  • Getting the right oil temperature—To nail the oil temperature, drop a small dough piece into the wok. Instant rising means it’s too hot, sluggish rising indicates cool oil. Gradual rise with bubbling signals the perfect frying heat.
  • Crush the spices—Boost the mathri’s flavor by crushing carom or cumin seeds between your palms before adding. This easy step helps release the spices’ fragrant oils, enhancing the flavor profile and making your mathri experience even more delightful.
  • Don’t go too thick or thin—Achieve the ideal mathri balance by avoiding extremes in thickness. Overly thick ones might stay undercooked, while excessively thin ones could turn into puris. Aim for that perfect middle ground to ensure a delectable result. Refer to the photos for guidance.
  • Shaping the mathri—For shaping mathri, a rolling pin and board work great, but don’t worry if you don’t have them. A thin bottle or glass and a cutting board can serve as alternatives for rolling and shaping your mathri effectively.

“Mathri is a traditional North Indian fried snack. It has a flaky and satisfying texture with crispy edges and a subtle hint of fenugreek and ajwain. Once you find the Indian spices, it’s very quick and simple to make.” —Joan Velush

Marthi Recipe/Tester Image A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour

  • 2 teaspoons carom (ajwain) seeds 

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kasuri methi (ground dried fenugreek leaves), optional

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, optional

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

  • 4 tablespoons ghee, melted

  • 1/2 cup warm water

  • 2 cups neutral oil, for frying 

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make mathri

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups whole wheat flour, 2 teaspoons carom (ajwain) seeds, 1 1/2 teaspoons optional kasuri methi (ground dried fenugreek leaves), 1 1/2 teaspoons optional freshly ground black pepper, and 1 teaspoon fine salt.

    A large bowl with whole wheat flour, carom, kasuri methi black pepper and salt

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  3. Add 4 tablespoons ghee, melted and mix well. You will notice the aroma of the ingredients permeating the room. It is going to be very hot so use a spatula until you feel comfortable using your hands.

    A rubber spatula mixing melted ghee into the bowl of whole wheat flour-carom mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  4. Mix together (but do not knead) until the ingredients are combined and begin to resemble a very shaggy dough, 7 to 12 minutes. If you gather the mixture into a clump, it will be a bit crumbly, but should hold together instead of falling apart. 

    A hand holding a small clump of dough over a bowl of ghee-whole wheat mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  5. Once this consistency is achieved, add up to 1/2 cup warm water, 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time, continuing to mix until the water is incorporated before adding more. Using the bare minimum of water ensures the mathri will be crisp and flaky. The final dough will be stiff, with visible cracks, and when pressed it will crack around the edges.

    A bowl of mathri dough, with slight cracks around the edges

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  6. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 30 to 45 minutes.

    A bowl of mathri dough, covered by a towel

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  7. Take small portions (about 1 tablespoon) of the dough and shape them into balls by rolling them gently between your palms.

    An oval plate with small round balls of mathri dough

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  8. Flatten each of these balls using a rolling pin. Don't worry about achieving perfectly even edges; in fact, the dough is meant to have slightly uneven edges. The dough should be 1/2 centimeter thick (about 3/8-inch).

    A cutting board with flatten rounds of mathri dough with a rolling pin

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  9. Pierce each mathri a few times with a fork that leaves tiny holes in the center. This helps ensure the mathri are evenly cooked and do not puff in the center.

    A cutting board with flattened circles of mathri dough, pierced with a fork

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  10. Heat 2 cups neutral oil in a wok and heat until the oil reaches 300 F to 325 F, place 4 to 6 flattened mathri into the oil.

    A large wok with four pieces of mathri dough frying in oil

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  11. Flip the mathri after a couple minutes so that they are golden brown and evenly cooked on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes total.

    A wooden spoon flipping over a piece of fried mathri in a wok

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

  12. Once the mathris are golden brown, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon or skimmer and place them on paper towels for the excess oil to drain.

    A paper towel-lined plate with fried mathris

    The Spruce Eats / Bahareh Niati

How To Store

Mathri can be kept in airtight containers and maintain their freshness for 1 week to 10 days. Beyond this period, they start acquiring an oily smell and have a diminished flavor.

Feeling Adventurous? Try This:

  • Use all-purpose flour—You can use all-purpose flour instead of wheat flour and follow the same recipe, however in that case adding black pepper is essential for the best flavor.
  • Bake the mathri—If you prefer not to fry, baking is an option as well. The procedure to prepare the dough remains the same, next place the flattened discs in the oven and bake at 350 to 375 F for 20 to 25 minutes. Remember to flip them halfway through to ensure even baking on both sides.
  • Try other spices—Other flavoring ingredients you could add are cumin seeds and kalonji (onion seeds).
  • Get creative with shapes—Although round mathri are the traditional choice, it’s not unusual to come across triangle and square variations as well.

Comments

No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *