Namkeen (Salty Crackers)

Happy New Year, friends. I wish each one of you peace, happiness, good health, prosperity, and good eats in 2013!

Some of you asked me to post a recipe for namkeen. Many of my recents posts have been Indian sweets, and that is because I have an insatiable sweet tooth. Namkeen is a snack that most Indian homes make for tea-time. This recipe is easy, and the namkeens are infused with nigella (kalonji), carom (ajwain), and cumin (jeera) seeds giving them a distinctive, and peppery twist.

For Christmas, I used a star shaped pastry cutter to make the namkeens shown in the picture. But you can also cut them in diamond shapes with a karanji or pizza cutter. I hope your namkeens turn out well.

4½ cups all purpose flour
1¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup oil
½ teaspoon nigella seeds (kalonji)
½ teaspoon carom seeds (ajwain)
½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
¾ cup water (approximately)
Oil for deep frying

Sift flour, and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour, and salt mixture, and add the oil. In the palm of your hands, lightly crush the nigella, carom and cumin seeds, and add them. Mix the flour, salt, oil, and seeds until the flour is crumbly. Then add water, a little at a time, to make a stiff dough. Cover with a damp towel, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into three parts. Knead each portion again, and make a smooth ball. Roll each ball into a circle that is ¼ inch thick. Cut into diamond shapes. Or, use a small star shaped pastry cutter to cut out little namkeens.

Heat oil in a wok (kadai) over medium-high heat. When you drop the namkeens in the oil they should drop to the bottom of the wok, and come up to the surface of the oil slowly. Each batch that you fry will take at least 10 minutes. Fry the namkeens until they are light brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels, and cool completely before you store them in an airtight container.