Christmas is a great time to build lifelong memories with your family. Keeping up with family traditions takes time, energy, and planning. I am so thankful for the memories I have of my family during this time of year.
I am sure many of you have your own Christmas traditions. Please share them with us on my Facebook page or right here on my blog. A few of our family favorites are decorating the Christmas tree, making treats with friends, having family over for Christmas Eve dinner, Secret Santa parties, and of course, a delicious breakfast on Christmas morning (cinnamon rolls are a must)!
Today’s recipe is simple. You will find these little biscuits all over Maharashtra. Shakarpara or Shankarpali, as they are called, are made with all purpose flour, ghee or oil, sugar, and water. These are items you already have in your pantry. All you need to do is knead the dough, let it rest, roll, cut, and deep fry. So, you can even make them today – just in time for Santa’s arrival!
Shakarpara (Shankarpali) – Indian Biscuits
Prep time: 20 minutes (includes rest time)
Cooking time: 30 minutes
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
½ cup solid ghee, (or 3/4 cup vegetable oil)
5 cups all purpose flour, (approximately)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons semolina, (sooji, optional)
Oil for deep frying
Add sugar, water, and ghee into a saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar melts. Cool. Whisk flour, salt and semolina in a separate bowl until combined.
Pour the cooled sugar, water, and ghee mixture into the large bowl of an electric mixer, (Kitchen Aid), fitted with a dough hook. With the mixer on slow speed, add the flour, a little at a time, scraping down the bowl, until the mixture comes together. I needed five cups of flour. You might need to add a little more or a little less. Add flour until the mixture comes together into a ball. Turn the mixer on medium speed and knead for three minutes. You can also made the dough without a mixer. Knead with your hands until you have a smooth dough. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Knead it again with your hands and then divide the dough into equal portions. Roll to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into diamond or square shapes.
Add about five inches of oil to a wok or heavy bottomed pan. Heat the oil over medium heat. Then turn the heat to medium-low. Add a small piece of dough. If it rises to the top quickly the oil is too hot. Add a few shakarparas at a time. They must come up slowly. Fry them on low heat so the inside cooks well. Remove when they turn golden brown and drain on paper-towel lined trays. Cool completely before storing them.
– I used turbinado sugar for the shakarparas in the picture. The golden crystals are not bleached, so they keep the rich flavor and color of their natural molasses. But I found that the shakarparas were not as sweet as I would have liked, so I coated them with a sugar syrup.
– For the sugar syrup I used one cup granulated sugar and one cup water. Cooked it in a heavy-bottomed pan, over medium heat. When the sugar melted, I add quarter teaspoon lemon juice. The lemon juice keeps crystals from forming. Boil until the sugar reaches one-thread consistency. To do this, keep testing the syrup. Dip a wooden spoon into the syrup and lift out. Allow it to cool. Touch it with your forefinger and then touch your thumb and gently pull apart. When a single thread is formed and it does not break, you’ve reached one-thread consistency. Or use a candy thermometer (234° F–240° F).
– Dip the shakarparas in the syrup, drain the excess syrup with a slotted spoon, and put them on a large cookie sheet. They need to dry out before you store them.