“The quintessential human psyche has a tendency to reminisce about halcyon days!But we must remind ourselves daily that our potential is still inchoate,and our best days are still ahead of us”, writes Jeff Davis and this is absolutely true about majority of us. In my case I reminisce about various memories where I tasted something different and where friends made the company even more memorable!
In 2005,I was travelling with my classmates and seniors for an Inter College Competition to Meerut (pronounced Mayrut) which happens to be the border of the State of Uttar Pradesh as well as India with Nepal. It was a great trip where we laughed,joked,played loud music and the guys in the group (boys will be boys) actually checked out the food stalls at each station and bought great tasting snacks each time they saw something new. It was 5.30pm – Chai time for the Indian tea obsessed mind and the train pulled into Ambala Cantt! A station which made us proud as we saw soldiers from the Indian Army alight from the train as they went to the Cantonment Area from where they were deputed or they worked for the security of the country.
Nishant – my senior who was in a habit of gulping down multiple cups of tea a day looked out eagerly to scan the platform. The train stopped here for only 15 minutes and it was running 3 hours late. As the train stopped there was a mad scramble for everyone to get out and passengers waiting outside to come in. Instantly we heard the tea seller coming inside the compartment as he announced his arrival in his sing song voice. Nishant looked over the shoulders of people who were desperately wanting to cross his legs – he had a habit of keeping his legs crossed in front of him and many a times people tripped on them and almost fell making him stand up and ask for multiple apologies while we all had the biggest fit of giggles while Nishant stared crossly at us.
He saw the tea vendor and suddenly his eyes lit up! “He has got something else with the tea” he sang out! “Who is game for trying it out”? “Me” chorused 15 voices – everyone was famished as we had lunch around 12.00 noon and for five and a half hours I had been busy with a group of 5 making them laugh helplessly over topics ranging from me and my funny experiences to Shah Rukh Khan to our teachers. The laughter had made us all ravenously hungry and we wished to know what else the tea seller had which Nishant had been so excited to see!
As the hawker came near we saw that he had a bag full of neat packets which contained cookie like speckled things priced very low. “What are those” asked Nishant,who was impatient enough to have his 7th cup of tea that day! “They are Corn Chips” was the answer! “Chips” quizzed Nishant,but they look like Mathri – which I love so much with chai! “Exactly son” came the answer,”but I have given a new term to the Recipe,as I know this is going to be excellent with tea. Kuljeet (his wife) made it yesterday and I thought let people taste her excellent culinary skills”!
Now everyone was interested. Payal – my classmate who stuck to me all the time as she loved listening to my mimicry asked him the price for one and we were surprised when he quoted a very low price. Sudeep – the naughtiest one of the group and my good friend asked him “This is Aunty’s sweat and blood Uncle,so why do you quote such a low price”? He replied “Its the middle class who travel in trains my son and they cannot afford much. Plus you all are children and must be my son and daughter’s age. How can I charge you all”?
We all were so touched by his words that each of us got 2 of the delicious looking Corn Chips and me with the foodie mind asked him innocently “Uncle what all did u put in this”? “Ahhh the Chef speaks now”, reverberated everywhere around and he smiled and said “Maize flour,all purpose flour,fried fenugreek leaves,salt and spices. Blend with ghee and make exactly like Mathri. I have to go now” he said as the train whistled as it was now time to leave.I had the time to just say “Thank you”, and the train started moving leaving us with cups of steaming hot tea and a couple of packets of chips.
“Now the Chef will note the ingredients,try it at home and bring it for us to try” said Brinda – a senior who loved my cakes and snacks when I got them for my classmates. “Amu,please concentrate on your song,the duets and the dance instead of thinking about the recipe”,groaned Ajay who was in charge of everything and who had the responsibility of all of us.
I opened one packet and took out a Corn Chip. It was almost like a cookie,with bits of fenugreek leaves here and there perfectly fried to a crispy golden brown and one bite of that ethereal Chip – I was transported to heaven! I took a sip of the wonderfully flavoured tea and the flavours came together so well and it was so delicious that it took me 30 minutes to have one Chip and the delicious tea! I always take time to eat and drink and sometimes drive people crazy as they need to wait for a long time before I finish!
The Competition was a huge success with we bagging the second prize in all and me getting prizes for the Best Singer (female),Best Dance (all of us),Best Duet (with my male counterpart) and Best Fashion Model in the Fashion Show they organised in the end of the show. I could not forget the chips (they were still in my bag) as I wanted my family to taste them.
Back home everyone loved them and me and my grandma took over the task of trying them out.Me and Grandma normally used to spend weekends in the kitchen trying out new recipes,celebrating hit recipes and discussing what could go wrong with flop recipes. When my Grandma tasted the snack she was so excited to try the recipe out that I felt ashamed of my excitement being lesser compared to hers. The first step was to make a note of the ingredients and write out the recipe ourselves. This is exactly what I do to this day for any new/experimental recipe I make.
For the first experiment we thought there was an issue where the spices were concerned but when we did the second trial next month it was exactly the same taste,texture and look. I make this recipe as often as possible so that it is easy to store this for weeks and have something delicious for chai times! These are perfect to take while travelling and perfect for gifting along with sweets. If you cannot get fresh fenugreek leaves use dried leaves (kasoori methi) or even spinach,dill or coriander leaves for a delicious twist. The recipe stays the same.
In Mumbai all vegetables are called “Bhaji” so I renamed the snack “Bhaji Corn Chips”.
This recipe was entered for the 177th FoodieMondayBloghop where the theme was MagicOfFreshMethiLeaf!
Preparation Time : 30 minutes
Makes : 400 gms of Chips
For the chips :
2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
1/2 cup maize flour (makke ka atta)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup ghee
1 bunch fenugreek leaves (methi) – washed dried and chopped finely
1 tsp oil for frying the leaves
Oil for frying the chips
The dry spice mix :
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder (Haldi)
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder/Paprika Powder
1/4 tsp Cumin Powder (Jeera)
1 tsp Coriander Powder (Dhania)
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
2 tbsp Chaat Masala
Prepare the Leaves :
Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and add the leaves. Fry till wilted and all the water evaporated from the leaves. Keep aside to cool.
Make the dough :
Take both the flours in a large bowl. Add the salt and all the spices except the Chaat Masala.mix well to amalgamate. Start adding the 1/2 cup ghee 1 tbsp at a time,each time blending very well with the tips of your fingers till you are able to form a lump out of the flour in your hands. This is the ideal texture for flaky and crisp chips.
Add the sautéed fenugreek leaves and mix again. Start adding water 2 tbsp at a time and knead into a semi hard dough which sweeps the bowl clean. Spoon over 1 tsp of ghee over the dough and knead till smooth. Cover and keep aside for 15 minutes for the dough to set.
Fry the chips :
Heat oil on medium heat. Divide the dough into 4 parts. Roll the first part into a thin circle. Prick with a fork on both sides so that it does not bloat. Using a bottle lid or a cookie cutter,cut out circles from the round. (I cut the leftover dough into diamonds and fried them as well for delicious bite sized treats.)
Fry on medium heat till brown and crisp. Do not fry over high heat as the outside would cook and the inside will remain chewy and uncooked. You will be able to see the “layers” in perfectly fried chips.
Drain the chips on kitchen paper and sprinkle Chaat Masala on top. Let the Chips come to room temperature and store in airtight containers.
Serve with hot tea!
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