I was asked a couple of days back by my son's teacher if I would like to come to school to celebrate Diwali Day. They were celebrating it a little after Diwali as the school had it's half term break exactly during the Diwali break. I was asked whether I would be interested in doing some cooking so that the children could have a taste of some Indian food. I was definitely interested and it really got me thinking as to what I could make. It had to be something that children found attractive , didn't take too much time to cook and had an Indian touch to it. Making Diwali snacks was totally out of question as we all know that most of the snacks that we prepare for Diwali are very very time consuming and also require concentration.
So I asked Google for advice and I also did some blog hopping but finally the idea came completely on it's own accord . " Nankatai": The delicious Indian cookie. I knew it was a great idea as it is quick to make does not require too many ingredients and as the school has a oven baking was no problem. I had also seen it being made on UKTV Food by a very talented Indian Celebrity chef and I thought if he can make such a simple dish on national television I could definitely present it in my son's school. But before I finalised it I had to take a trial at home . The quantity of each ingredient had to be determined and how many cookies would I make in one batch. And so I did. I followed a recipe from here with a few changes here and there of my own.
1 cup maida (plain flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup ghee (clarified butter)
1/2 cup castor sugar
2 tsps chopped almonds
1 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp saffron soak in 1 tbsp hot water
Seive flour and baking powder together. Mix ghee and sugar till creamy. Add the flour mixture,the saffron and cardomom . Knead well and make into small balls. Flatten and place on lined tray. Dip a fingertip in water and dab on the centre of each ball of dough. Bake in oven till cooked for about 20-25 mins at 375 deg.
Now what actually happened is that after I made these ,tasted them and passed a satisfactory verdict on them I spoke to a friend about them . She was of the opinion that although Nankatai was a great recipe to make as such , all said and done it was a biscuit; a biscuit that tasted very similar to Scottish Shortbread which most children in UK have eaten thousands of times. So would it not be better to do something else a bit more Indian.
She suggested Instant Dhokla and I came up with the idea of Amrakhand. And these are to the 2 dishes that finally made it to the school Diwali celebrations. I hung 1 kilo of Greek Style yoghurt overnight . In the morning I mixed in sugar and cardammom in it. After putting it in a plastic container it was ready to carry to the school. Along with I took along a can of Alphonso mango pulp so that the children could mix the pulp and the yoghurt themselves and make their own Amrakhand
I also took a pack of Gits Dhokla mix and my idli stand to the school. Within minutes of arriving at the cooking area I had the first batch of idli shaped Dhoklas ready . I offered the children the choice of topping their Dhoklas with fresh coriander and coconut and a tempering of mustard but most of them were happy just munching on the plain Dhoklas. A few even asked for seconds and I was so thrilled.
The Amrakhand idea was also a complete hit. The kids loved mixing mango with yogurt and polished off all the Amrakhand from their little cups before asking for seconds and also thirds. You can imagine how nice it felt . The teachers were also very happy with the way things went and they too got a sampling of the Dhokla which they loved.
So in the process of deciding what to cook at school I discovered how easy it was to cook Nankatais. Why do I call them Earthquake cookies? Well in the evening when my husband saw them and the huge cracks on them he asked me if there had been an earthquake after I made them. Ha ha ha!!!