Sunday, April 19, 2009

Maida Tattai - Flat Savoury Crispy Snack

At the age of fourteen, my father lost his mother while she gave birth to her daughter. My grand father was never around to take care of the kids, as his job in the railways often took him out of station or sent him on the ‘line’. My father’s grand mother (my great grand mother) had a tough time bringing up my hyper active father and his new born sister almost single handed. My great grand mother lived up to her 96th year to narrate amusing anecdotes about our father to us.

Father made his reluctant aunt open the ‘ugranam’ (storeroom) where a variety of meticulously prepared savouries like tattais and murukkus were stored. After ransacking the stock meant to last for at least a couple of months with all his friends, he threw a sweet thank you at his bewildered aunt and marched away into the garden with his gang, only to return for refueling after a vigourous out door game!

I have never taken any interest in learning to prepare these savouries as our needs were always taken care of by the elders in the family. Later on professionals were summoned to prepare them during functions at home. Nowadays these and many more savouries and sweets are available in shops which have sprung up every where in plenty.

Here I have tried to prepare maida tattai for this post with the instructions of my enthusiastic mami (maternal uncle’s wife) who has mastered the art of traditional as well as innovative cooking.
Maida or plain flour – 1 glass (my one glass can hold approximately 250 gms of an ingredient which is equivalent to what we call a ‘pav’ in Kannada.)
Rice flour – 1/3 glass
Roasted and powdered black gram dal (urad dal) – 1 heaped tbsp
Soaked and drained Bengal gram dal (chana dal) – 2 tbsps
Asafoetida – ¼ tsp
Salt – ¾ tsp
Spice powder (my Sambar powder) – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Ghee or butter – 2 tbsps
Oil for frying

The required amount of maida is bundled up in a clean cloth and placed in a clean dry vessel.This vessel is then placed in the pressure cooker and steamed for 15 minutes without the whistle. After steaming, the maida will look like a hard dry piece of plaster of Paris. Crumble this into a fine powder using your hand.
1. Take a glass of the prepared maida in a wide mouthed vessel.
2. Add rice flour, roasted and powdered black gram dal, salt, asafoetida, ,spice powder, soaked dal and cumin seeds.
3. Add ghee or butter and mix the ingredients well till they look like bread crumbs.
4. Heat 4 tbsps of oil and pour all over the mixture and blend with a spoon.
5. Add water little by little and make a dough, like you would for a chappatis.
6. Make small lime size balls out of the dough.
7. Flatten one by one by pressing the ball between the palm of one hand, and the mount under the thumb of the other hand.
8. Make the tattais as thin as possible and fry them in batches of four or six in hot oil.
9. Drain them on absorbant paper and store in an air tight jar after it cools down.
Some Notes from my trial: Tattais will crumble and break away in the oil, if the oil is not fuming hot. My first few tattais crumbled away into the oil. I then realized it is to do with the oil temperature. You can reduce heat if needed, when the tattais are half done and change colour, lest they may get burnt. Tattais do tend to need lots of oil, so if you are feeling indulgent, this makes an ideal accompaniment with tea or coffee!! Overall, the result was a very delicious and cruncy snack.