Crunchy Indian TV Snacks
Don't be mislead by my title - these snacks aren't for the TV, they're all for you! Obviously if you really want to share them with the telly you can do but I don't reckon you'll be sharing them with anyone once you start crunching. In actual fact you don't need a TV for this recipe - just a plain old frying pan, a little oil and a craving for something tangy, crunchy and ever so slightly spicy.
These snacks are called Basen Paare and for anyone interested in following the authentic Indian recipe click here - I, needless to say, have tampered with it and this is what I've up with:
- 300 grams/10 ounces of Gram flour (chickpea flour)
- 300 grams/10 ounces of wholemeal flour (if you forget this it’s no big deal – just up the quantity of Gram flour instead)
- A pinch of Garam Masala
- A little water
- one lemon
- sunflower oil or olive oil to fry
- a few cherry tomatoes (optional)
You may have noticed that they're salt free (that deserves 'bold', doesn't it?) - this wasn't a conscious decision on my part, I naturally tend to use little or no salt and in the case of these Besan Paares the results proved to me that salt wasn't actually needed - Gram flour is already flavoursome and with the addition of the Garam Masala, the old salt is just a distant memory. Garam Masala is a very fragant mixture of spices sometimes referred to as Curry Powder in the West - you'll find it at any Indian grocery store but should you have difficulty try using Curry Powder instead (although it's not quite the same).
Just for your idle curiosity, here's the ingredients which I've omitted (mainly because I couldn't get hold of them) from the original recipe:
- two tablespoons of semolina (I forgot it one day and have never missed it since)
- red chili flakes,
- carom seeds,
- Asafetida otherwise known as Hing (this is the onion substitute for those who are pure vegetarian (i.e. do not eat onion or garlic which, for those who practice Yoga seriously, is omitted from the diet)
- four tablespoons of oil in the dough (it seems superfluous to me).
Obviously you may want to add any of the above to your Basem Paares but I can tell you they come out scrumpscious using only my scanty ingredients. I suppose you could say that my version of Basen paares is a healthy version - they’ll certainly bring on a healthy appetite once you get crunching. Just get those gnashers at the ready - there's going to be some serious chomping going on!
So, enough chitter chatter - how do we make these crunchliscious snacks?
Well, let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start...
Sift the Gram flour into a bowl and when this is done add a pinch of Garam Masala (or curry powder if you're using it).
Add the water a little at a time until you get a dough (although you'll probably get a squidgy, sticky dough this is no problem as you'll see in a bit).
And that's not all...
More likely than not you'll have a very sticky dough but fear not - grease your hands and a rolling pin with some cooking oil before rolling it out and cutting it into shapes. (The original Basen Paares are thin rectangle strips – if the dough is very sticky you may find it easier making little ball shapes or just whatever shape you can prise off your hand).
Now pour a layer of oil into a frying pan (it needn't be too much, these are 'healthy' after all), wait for it to get hot and carefully lay whatever shapes you've made inside – don’t go away because they'll soon become crispy and need turning over - in two or three minutes (a little more if they're thick) they'll be ready.
Once they're done squeeze a slice of lemon over them while they’re still lying hot on the serving plate.
- Prepare the dough ten minutes before frying so the dough can sit and rest. (Don’t ask me why doughs get so tired).
- To get a more manageable dough, add very little water to the flour at a time, kneading well each time and the result should be more solid and less clingy.
- The Paares may puff up in the frying pan - if this offends you pierce them with a fork before putting them in the pan.
- Garnish with slices of lemon and chopped cherry tomatoes. If you’re feeling adventurous you can accompany them with a yogurt and paprika dip (I think you can guess what the ingredients are to that) or any dip that takes your fancy.
- For vegetarians out there, you can turn the dough into vegetarian cutlets – they come out exactly like veal chops (as I remember them) - just make a thicker dough, cut out larger shapes and when they're done squirt them with a little lemon and plonk a salad by their side. Bob's your uncle!
Now, I've called these 'Indian TV snacks' so all you need now is a good Bollywood film - then sit back, enjoy and get gnashing!