Six days after Diwali, the festival of Chhath (छठ) is welcomed and celebrated with great fervour and devotion in the the states of Bihar, Jharkhand and parts of Uttar Pradesh. The sun is worshiped with great reverence since it is considered as the provider of energy and life force. Thekua is an integral part of the chhath puja. An offering is made of this fried cookie along with fruits to the setting and rising sun. I am in awe of those who observe the chhath fasting of three days, abstaining food and water especially since I can’t go without food or water for even a day. Thekua is considered as Prasad, an offering made to the Gods. Although I have not seen this mithai being made at any other time of the year, knowing my love for it, my mother-in-law makes it for me anytime that I request her to or when we visit her for our annual vacation. She is currently visiting us and I could not let this opportunity go waste. 😉
So many adjectives can be used to describe these fried Indian cookies – rustic, moreish, earthy, comforting. Similar to khajoor or khajur cookies, they are great to snack or when travelling since they stay good for weeks in an air tight jar or to pack them in your picnic basket. Thekua has no preservatives or raising agents. When it comes to festival cooking and eating, I don’t hold myself back on indulgence. It is only on festivals, twice or thrice a year that one really indulges in all sweet, fried goodies, made mostly from ghee – may that be Halwa, Gulab Jamuns or thekua. So chill and enjoy it! 😀
1 kg Wheat Flour
¾ C to 1 scant Cup – Desiccated Coconut
1 tbsp Fennel seeds
1 tsp Cardamom Powder
130 gm Ghee (edited 12 Nov. 2016)
550 – 600 gm Jaggery
300 ml Water
Sufficient Ghee for deep frying
Scrap and soak the jaggery in water. (I had added it to hot water to hasten the process) Once the jaggery has dissolved completely, strain it through a muslin cloth to discard any grit and other impurities.
While the jaggery is soaking, add ghee to the wheat flour and rub it well for approximately 6 – 8 minutes. Now take a handful in your fist and press it. If the flour is not falling apart, it is ready to be turned into dough. Add fennel seeds, desiccated coconut and cardamom powder to the flour and mix well.
Add strained jaggery water to the flour in three installments while making the dough. (I allowed the jaggery water to cool down before adding it to the flour) You do not have to knead the dough. Once the flour comes together and there are no dry patches, the dough is done. (do not knead)
Heat the ghee in a frying pan or wok. Reduce the heat to low while you beginning shaping the dough. At all times, keep the dough covered, with moist cloth, to prevent it from drying out else it will be difficult to make the thekua cookies.
Take some dough in your hands. Keep pressing the dough between the palm and fingers of one hand to make a smooth round ball. Press it down between your palms to flatten it and then make imprint on the dough pressing it further to bring its thickness to a little more than half a centimetre. It is perfectly fine, if the sides have some cracks. These will give crispiness to the cookies.
Now, fry them on low heat till they just turn reddish brown in color. Carefully remove them (as they will be very soft at this stage) on an absorbent sheet and serve once they are completely cool. Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee!
Note: These fried cookies are love’s labour and require time since the thekua needs to be fried on low heat for it to be cooked thoroughly.
Note: I fry them till they turn reddish brown in colour as this stage leads them to being crisp on the edges and soft in the middle. You can fry till they are light brown.
Note: Regarding the amount of ghee used for the dough, do not go beyond 140 grams or else the thekua will break while frying.
Note: I measured and used exactly 50 grams of dough to make each thekua.
Note: If at any point of time the dough turns dry and difficult to handle (though it shouldn’t if you keep it covered), sprinkle a little water and mix it in the dough.
Note: I used my potato masher to make imprints on the cookie dough. The imprints make the cookie crispy besides making it look good. You can use fork or a grater.
Note: The cookies will be very soft when you remove them from oil but they will harden once they cool.
Yields – 48 cookies
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