These sweet and crunchy crackers are an eternal favourite in India. They are called Shankarpale in Marathi and shakkarpara in Hindi. Shankarpale are essential deep fried, crisp and sweet diamonds (or squares) of dough. They form part of the Diwali sweets repertoire but are not limited to the festive season. They are great for snacking, if a tad weighty on the calorie front. (Most good things usually are.)
These were among our favourite after school snacks and were stored in big airtight stainless steel boxes. Part of the plan, I now think, was to make them harder for us to get to. They certainly are addictive and I remember Aai rationing these out, balanced with some fruits or other healthy snacks. Some early lessons in portion control and eating a balanced diet.
I loved watching these being made – the dough being kneaded, then being rolled out. My favourite bit was the curly cutter that gave the shankarpale their zigzag edges. Much to our 7 year old delight, sometimes, we were even allowed to help cut these into shape. Of course, you can always cut them with a knife and they will taste just as good. I have a slightly modern version of the traditional cutter. It is still quite new and shiny, but I hope that by the time our 4 year old is all grown up it will have the distinguished patina of one that has delighted generations of shankarpale fans.
Here’s to creating teatime memories that will be cherished 20-30 years down the line, as I do today. 🙂
This version of the recipe makes about 2 cups of Shankarpale. Just enough for 2-3 to snack on.
150 grams whole wheat flour (atta)
25 grams semolina
80 grams powdered sugar + 1 teaspoon to sprinkle
1 tablespoon ghee
1/4 cup cold milk or water
- Stir the semolina into the flour and mix well. I use a whisk to ensure even distribution.
- Add in the sugar and ghee. Sprinkle some cold milk (or water) and knead well. You may not need all the milk (or water). What you are aiming for is a stiff dough.
- Let it rest for about 15 minutes.
- Roll into evenly sized balls.
- With a rolling pin (a wine bottle will do just fine), roll each ball into a disc 3mm – 5mm thick.
- Cut into desired shapes. (I prefer diamonds.)
- Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan.
- Fry the shankarpale until golden brown.
- Cool and dust with some of the powdered sugar.
Goes perfectly with a beverage of any kind. There won’t be much left to put away so no airtight tins necessary. 🙂
If it’s a savoury version, you prefer, you might like the Tikhat Papdya, spiced with cumin and black pepper.