Sunday, February 9, 2014

Spicy onion crackers - Baked & Low calorie snack

Low, low temperatures and bone chilling cold. Pretty unusual for the winter where I live but then who says it has been a usual winter this year? If you are following the storm after storm bringing in piles of snow in the North East, you already know this year is anything but usual.. When we moved here a few years back, our first thought was one of gratitude for the milder winters the region promised. After having lived in mid west and eastern states most of our life, we were honestly looking for some respite from snowy and icy winters and have been super happy with the moderate temperatures here. But then as though nature noticed I was missing the white, fluffy stuff, it decided to bring some to my door steps :-). We had about 1/2 inch (I can see my friends back in Indy making faces and dismissing that as anything even worthy of attention) in December, schools announced a 2-hour delay to start with and then after an hour decided to close for the day completely. So they have a make up day now at the tail end of the school year, not sure if any of the kids will attend though!
Here is the problem with snow in our region, though the fall may not be heavy, since the terrain is very mountainous with winding and sloppy streets and Washington being the green state chooses not to use salt/chemicals to melt the snow, once it falls it tends to stay until cleared up. The roads become treacherous and driving almost impossible unless your vehicles are specially equipped for driving in the snow. Thankfully the number of times it snows and the duration & amount of snow is pretty low so all we have to do is just suck it up and take it as part of life.

This past week has been really cold for the region and suddenly last evening it decided to bring some snow flakes down too. It was a cozy Saturday evening and we were home while DD was out with a few friends at a dance performance. When it was time to bring her back, we had one of the nightmarish experiences with the car refusing to move forward in the gradient and rolling back down the slope as if it had a mind of its own and didn't want to listen to the driver. After some really stressful moments and parental anguish, we finally found a way to bring her home safely. All is well. When I got up this morning though the world around was breathtakingly spectacular with white dotting the lush green trees and covering the roads every where :-), beautiful awakenings.. I won't say no to this serene surroundings a few more times as long as everyone is home safe and we don't have to drive anywhere.
As the weather is still cold, I made some savory crackers, these are baked crackers with a wonderfully sweet smell of the onions. I had seen this on the web here and here and have made them at home multiple times with some variations and adjustments. I don't personally agree with the original name of baked nippattu, since the Iyengar bakery baked nippattu I have eaten taste different may be because of the amount of butter/dalda they use. Last time when I was in India, one of my SIL's friends who came to visit brought me a bag of Maiya's baked nippattus since my SIL had told him enough about my affinity and love for all things crispy, salty and spicy. They were delicious and had a definite taste of gram flour or besan. So, I am sure there are multiple versions of the baked nippattu around.

Also, for me nippattu is this, incidentally it happens to be my most popular blog post ever if I can trust the statistics blogger gives me :-), nippattu has rice flour and has a very distinctively different taste than what I have today. So, I have decided to call it just 'Spicy onion crackers' and not quality it as nippattu - baked or otherwise. But anyways, thanks ladies for the original recipe. As everybody before me have said, here is a word of caution, these crackers are super addictive, I make 30 crackers and they are almost always reduced to less than half the quantity in a couple of hours especially if it is a wet, cold day and the family happens to be home like today. If your family is like mine, plan and make a large batch so everyone is happy.
There are 2 ways to make these crackers - if you like them to be very crackly crisp, make them very thin and also use a fork to poke some holes all over the surface so that they bake evenly without holding any air bubbles (presence of which renders them soft on cooling). If you like them crisp but not necessarily crackling, pat the discs slightly thick but ensure even thickness all around. These turn out flaky when you break them open.

My changes from the original recipes is to add and up the wheat flour and I use oil instead of the butter (lower saturated fat content :-)). We had some pretty colored bell pepper chutney left from the lunch this morning and made use of that as a dip for the crackers. The crackers are just awesome by themselves and do not really need any accompaniments.
What do you need to make baked onion crackers? 
Makes about 30- 2 inch diameter crackers
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup AP flour
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp white sesame seeds
4-5 green chilies (adjust to taste)
10-12 curry leaves
1/4 cup yogurt
1/4 cup oil
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/2 Tsp sugar
1/2 Tsp baking powder
1/8 Tsp baking soda
How do you make baked onion crackers? 
  • Sieve the flours with the baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar.
  • Wash, remove stem ends and finely chop the green chilies. Finely chop the curry leaves. 
  • Mix in rest of the ingredients and make a crumbly dough. Use some muscle power as you mix to break the juices of onion and get some juices flowing.
  • Keep aside for 20 minutes.
  • Mixing with hands, add water 1 Tbsp at a time to make a tight dough.
  • Knead for 3-4 minutes, cover and set aside for 30 minutes. You will be scraping dough off your fingers during the kneading as it is little sticky but the kneading process helps to make a smooth dough nonetheless. 
  • Pre heat the oven to 325F.
  • Pinch off gooseberry size dough at a time, keep it between 2 oiled wax paper sheets and press down to make a disc. 
  • Take these out and lay 1/2 inch apart on a lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, flip the crackers over and continue baking for another 8-10 minutes or until golden.
  • When you take out the crackers, they are still a little soft but will turn crunchier as they cool.
  • Thinner the crackers, crispier they are but they tend to brown faster and you need to watch your oven. 
  • Keeping the crumbly dough aside is important as it allows the onion juices to further wet the dough. If you add water before this 'onion magic', chances are you will end up with a very gooey & sticky dough. 
  • A handful of finely chopped fresh fenugreek (methi) leaves adds a nice flavor. Replace with a Tbsp of crushed dry leaves (kasoori methi) instead if fresh leaves are not available. 
  • Substitute the green chilies with red chili powder. 
  • Add a handful of washed and finely chopped green cilantro instead of curry leaves. 


NamsVeni Pothas said...

wonderful baked recipe in the winter season in fact all time snack any time we can enjoy. and the snow picture is still more beautiful.

Sreemala said...

Perfect recipe I was looking for Nagashree! Can't wait to make it and enjoy in this sub zero temperatures outside. Half an inch of snow causing THAT much of havoc?!!! But am sure you are a pro at handling that - having lived here ;)

Nagashree said...

Mala :-), Yep, 1/2 inch and life comes to a stand still or runs backwards in the car's case.

Bake these, take some pictures and send them over. Stay warm and safe.