Back in India, the late afternoon or evening tea break is like a ceremony (no, not the Japanese kind). I think it is just another fine excuse to be with friends and family or maybe even to overcome the hint of lazy after the big late lunch and the nap. Whatever the reason may be, the evening time for tea is an important part of the day for many, with a spread of food befitting a dinner.
Having both my parents in profession, we never enjoyed this luxury during the weekdays. The schedule would be more or less the same as we have now; the evenings filled with homework for me, cooking hot dinner and preparing for the next day for my ma, while my dad came back quite late. However the weekends were different. We would either have guests, or we would be in some one’s home or sometimes would be home, just by ourselves or with my dear grandparents enjoying the regional movies that was featured by the television every Saturday and Sunday about 5 o’ clock in the evening. It was also tea, snack and family o’clock.
One might dare compare the Indian tea affair with the English high tea in the extent of the spread of food; only we Indians tend to serve more savory food than the delicate English cakes, pastries and scones.
A few months back, last year in October to be precise, I found an email from Sandhya. And I discovered her blog which she has built with love and dedication. She requested a guest post, and tied between so many different things as I was, it is only after so many months that I could do it for her. I really appreciate her patience! Sandhya is a warm friendly lady who hails from the southern regions, but brought up amidst the western coasts of India. Now she lives in London, keeping herself busy with her little one and her blog of course, cooking up food with “utmost affection” as she says, while infusing her roots and the diversity of her life in her kitchen delicacies too.
Among the other spread of lip smacking goodies, (sometimes some street food too, made at home of course), biscuits and crackers were the essentials. Some to be dipped in the tea and some to accompany on the side. The one on the side would usually be the savory kind. The general term used for it is “namkin”, which literally translates to anything savory and spicy. Crackers or biscuits were not really made at home, unless they were those typical traditional kind or for an occasion; they were and still readily available in varieties of flavors at every store in the street corner or fresh in the bakeries. So if we needed them, we just had to walk, or at the most speed up on our bikes to get them.
This is one of the kind of spiced crackers I make at home, sometimes to re-live and to love those fun tea times, but mostly to keep a stack to snack on a couple of them once in a while. They stay fresh for a couple of weeks at room temperature, so they are really handy when you have to entertain on a quick notice. They also take very little time and effort to make.
The base recipe is similar to the Almond, Nigella Cookies I had posted earlier, except I have changed and played around with the spices and herbs this time and these here are not sweet.
Head over to Sandhya’s Kitchen to see the guest post.
Almond, Rosemary & Pepper Crackers
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2/3 cup (plus 1 tablespoon) or just enough to make a smooth dough half & half or heavy/double/ cream
- 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1.5 tablespoon dried rosemary, crushed/powdered
- 2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper/pepper flakes , or to taste
- more ground pepper/or red pepper flakes/or coarse salt to sprinkle on the top – optional
- 1/4 cup almonds
Process the almond with sugar until you get a coarse powder.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, black pepper, crushed pepper, rosemary and salt.
Cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the 2/3 cup of half-and-half or cream (whatever you are using) until just moistened. Fold in the nuts.
On a lightly floured surface, knead dough gently, 5 to 10 times or for a minute. Divide the dough in two parts and roll each into a log; each about 8 inches long.
Slice each of the logs in about 1/4 inch circles.
Place on a baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Brush the top of the crackers with remaining tablespoon of half & half/cream.
Sprinkle some coarsely ground black pepper, or red pepper flakes or even some coarse salt if you want. Bake until light golden, about 12-15 minutes. You might need to adjust baking time depending on the size of the cookies. The smaller cookies will bake faster.
Let cool completely on a wire rack. Store at room temperature in an air tight container after they are completely cooled.
- Almond Nigella Pepper Cookies
- Onion Crackers
- Nutty Nutella Swirls
- Indian Lime Cookies
- Buttermilk Biscuit
- Scones – Cranberry & Almond