Growing up as a child with a morbid imagination, I was preoccupied with death. Every few months, I would publish a new and improved version of my will. One of the things that remained consistent in all versions was my desire to be cremated with goods for the afterlife.
'Don't forget to burn a few mathri on the pyre, along with the dry mango pickle.'
My parents found it funny. I didn't. Heaven wouldn't be worth dying for without my favorite tea-time crackers. My mom made huge quantities of crisp, crumbly, deliciously deep fried mathri (pronounced mutt-ree). We had them with evening tea, along with left over lunch curry and mango pickle. They were, and are, to die for.
I haven't had mathri since we came to the US, mostly because the idea of deep frying anything in my tiny kitchen is too much to bear. Besides, deep fried circles of white dough aren't exactly a health food. My mom keeps offering to send me a batch, and I keep refusing. (Okay, I did have the mathri she brought with her when she visited. Once in four years doesn't count, does it?)
Time to create the baked version.
1.5 cup wholewheat flour (I used the fine Indian flour, atta)
1 cup all-purpose flour
0.5 cup semolina
80 grams butter/margarine at room temperature
1 tsp salt
1 tsp carom seeds
1 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1 tsp dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar
1-1.5 cups water at room temperature
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients except butter and water. Add the butter and crumble it through your fingers until the dough resembles a coarse meal. Then add enough water to make a pliable, not too soft dough. Don't overwork the dough.
Divide the dough into 3 pieces and roll each piece out into a rope. Using a dough scraper or butter knife, divide each rope into twenty equal pieces. Roll each piece out into a tiny circle. (I used a rolling pin. You can also press the circles out in a tortilla press, three at a time.)
Place the circles on baking sheets sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake for twenty minutes until the circles are crisp and golden brown. Cool on racks.
This recipe makes about 60 mathri, 30 Calories each. They will keep for a couple of months in an airtight container, and are a guaranteed cure for homesickness.