Monday, July 07, 2008

Khari biscuits

A few days ago, I was idly leafing through a food magazine while waiting somewhere and a boldly highlighted recipe caught my eye. It claimed to be 2-ingredient guacamole. Ever since I decided on this Less-is-More theme, I have been very interested in few-ingredient recipes, and I read the recipe eagerly. Only to find that the two ingredients were 1 tub of refrigerated guacamole and 1 tub of refrigerated salsa. And the method stated: Mix them together. Viola! I stared at this incredible "recipe" for several moments, trying to decide whether to laugh or to cry. In the end, I just shook my head and flung the magazine aside.

When recipes call for "convenience products", it sometimes can go to such hilarious extremes. Other times, though, I have to admit that short-cuts do make it possible to make meals even when life gets too hectic for all meals to be made from scratch. There certainly are many times in my life when a jar of pasta sauce or a bottle of Thai curry paste has made the difference between eating a slice of greasy pizza or chopping up some odd vegetables and eating a quick home-cooked meal.

Sometimes, a convenience product provides a means to that sweet wistfulness called nostalgia. At least, that is the feeling that crept up when I saw Meera's recipe for Short-cut Khari Biscuits. They are a one-ingredient wonder, made from store-bought puff pastry. I loved loved loved these khari biscuits ("khari" means salty) in India, as an accompaniment to afternoon chai. Nothing but melt-in-the-mouth flaky pastry. Even as they sighed over the fat content of this pastry, my parents gave in and bought khari biscuits from the local bakery every now and then. These plain khari biscuits are the ones I love best, but a new bakery that my parents frequent also makes methi khari biscuits (tinged with kasuri methi or dried fenugreek) that are simply delicious.

This is only the second time in my whole life that I bought puff pastry. With lashings of fat separating whisper-thin layers of dough, puff pastry is as sinful as it gets. In the interest of not undoing all of the huffing and puffing in the gym, I use it only for making vegetable puffs (a la Monginis) once in a blue moon. And now, khari biscuits! I used the all-butter Trader Joe's brand here. When buying puff pastry, I would suggest avoiding brands that contain hydrogenated vegetable fats (even small amounts of trans fats are extremely unhealthy).

(Inspired by Enjoy Indian Food)
Preheat the oven to 400F. Defrost a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Roll it gently to make it slightly thinner. Cut out rectangular shapes with a sharp knife. Twist each rectangle into a bow (that is the shape that I remember from my childhood) and lay it on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. You may have to play around with oven temperatures and baking times to be able to get the inside of the biscuit baked before the outside gets too dark.

Meera's blog is a remarkable resource for recipes, both old favorites and unusual regional ones. This khari biscuit recipe is part of a category called American Desi- these are Indian favorites made using American supermarket ingredients.

This is yet another entry for MBP: Less is More.


  1. oh i too love those methi khari biscuits! and i had one today with a little spiced tomato paste and sesame seeds sprinkled on it and then baked. delicious.

  2. Oh you made the 'pila-chi khari'!
    Though in fact they taste exactly like the regular khari, we used to maintain that they were much better.

  3. Hi Nupur,

    These Khari looks awesome, I am going to try these for sure.
    I recently started reading your blog, I love it.I just wanted to say Thank you.
    Keep the good stuff going, and continue inspiring people like me..:)

    Manali Joshi.

  4. How can you not love a recipe that has only one ingredient?! I do love this puff pastry from Trader Joe's; there's always some in my freezer.

  5. Nupur, Khari looks very delicious.

  6. I like the cute shape of your khari biscuits, Nupur!
    The 2-ingredient recipe that you mentioned sounded so very Sandra Lee-ish.:D

    Oh Monginis! I loved that cake shop. It brings back so many fond memories of the birthday parties that my sis and I celebrated growing up. That just reminded me of a comment I left on your other blog on your B-day post. I wonder if you ever saw that...

    I've never worked with puff pastry before...phyllo sheets I have, but that's not the same, right?

  7. I think that the "2-ingredient guacamole" is on the same level as recipes that are made vegetarian by substituting soy burgers for hamburger, soy chik'n for chicken, soy cheese for imagination and usually yucky results. The khari look yummy and I love Less is More :)

  8. Nupur,
    Thanks so much! I just don't know what to say!! Feels great that my blog got a mention here. Thanks for your kind words. As I have told you before, yours was the first blog I came across a few months ago. I can't tell you how it feels to see my name here. I felt just the same when you commented first time on my blog.
    Thanks for trying the recipe.

  9. Puff pastry is so deceptive - how can something as light as air be so bad? I had no idea TJ's carried an all-butter puff pastry - good to know!

  10. These are Gorgeous!!! We used to get a similar version with spinach..palak rolls. I'm going to make these with some sauteed salted spinach. Thanks a ton!!

  11. I love the khari biscuits... no puff pastry sheets in India!! but you get puffs and khari biscuits at local bakeries... so I don't try too hard.

    the magazine reminds me of this morning's discussion with S. I asked him if I could mix peanut butter with chilli sauce and MW it for toast in the morning... and then added that I wouldn't blog about it :-)

  12. what a coincidence..i also made a dish from Meera's blog for this event. Her blog is a veritable treasure of simple, foolproof and lovely recipes:)
    The 2-ingredient guacamole was hilarious:D

  13. Oh Gosh!these look more wonderful than what we get here at local bakeries !
    Too good...too tempting....looks perfectly crisp!

  14. Nupur, Khari looks beautiful. I wish I could get some to eat right away! I have always bought these, never tried making them at home. Should do so soon, now that I have the recipe. Thanks.:-)

  15. Puff pastry is indeed so handy...lovely biscuits :-)

  16. aren't those recipes plain ridiculous!!...but the problem is i still buy the magazine....those khari biscuits are to die for...but i like only the fresh bakery ones...the ones that are packaged sadly lack flavor!

  17. Hi Nupoor,
    came across your blog accidentally. N' then I couldn't stop reading. Your style of expression is too good. Taking inspiration from you.. I started another blog. :) Gave the link to your blog there. Hope you don't mind. Keep blogging... :)

  18. Oh Nupur, you took me to the memory lanes of the Iranian Bakery near my mumbai house.. the aroma of freshly baked khari was too hard to resist and I would always end up with Nankathai aani Khari ( gone to just pick some pav!)

    I am picking up some puff pastry on the way home

  19. Nupur, I've been a lurker here for a while. I just wanted to tell you that I am excited to see such an awesome blog from a fellow-Kolhapuri. Keep up the good work and do visit my blog too...

  20. The buscuits look great, and I like the theme of "Less is More." I'll have to find the Trader Joe's product.

  21. HEY...
    i looked for puff pastry sheets in walmart,they said they dont have any :(
    where do i find these pastry sheets?
    thanks for the awesome 'zapak' recipe...!

  22. Arundathi, the version with tomato and sesame sounds delicious!

    TheCooker, LOL I had forgotten the name "pila-chi khari" I agree they taste better :D We eat with our eyes first, after all.

    Manali, Thank you for your kind words.

    Lydia, These one-ingredient recipes are truly gems :)

    TBC, Sandra Lee...the mere name gives me shivers of horror :D
    I did read your lovely comment on the birthday post on the Daily Tiffin, my dear, and I am so sorry I did not respond (slipped my mind). Monginis was really a favorite of our generation, wasn't it?!
    Phyllo sheets are different from puff pastry- they are paper-thin sheets of dough without the fat to hold them together. Most recipes that call for phyllo dough call for brushing fat on the sheets and layering them, in essence, creating the same effect that puff pastry will give. I personally find phyllo sheets kind of a pain to work with :D

    Bek, Well, the recipes that call for fake meat in place of real at least qualify as recipes most of the time. This one was just a joke :) So are you going to participate in "less is more" :D You're probably too busy by now....

    Meera, I am so so thankful that you started your is a treasure. I have a couple dozen recipes bookmarked from you and will try them out one by one :)

    Cathy, I know- puff pastry foods disappear way too quickly considering how "heavy" they really are!!

    Jayasree, thanks :)

    Enjay, palak rolls sound delicious!

    Raaga, Yeah- why would you want to make these when every corner bakery in India makes them? It is not that simple recipes are not worth writing about. I love those, in fact. But it is the dependence on already-prepared foods, and then calling it a recipe, that irks me.

    delhibelle, You are right- Meera's blog is full of gems, and I absolutely love the one you tried!

    Alka, thanks

    Shreya, yes- they are nice to make as an occasional treat.

    Sunita, I know you make many delicious treats with puff pastry!

    Rajitha, LOL The bright colors of the magazines suck us in :D I agree, the packaged ones turn stale all too soon...

    Meghana, Good luck with your new blog.

    Arati, Yes, those bakery aromas are impossible to resist!

    Reva, Best wishes for your blog.

    T. W. Barritt, I do like the TJ's puff pastry, and I think it is quite popular...have seen it on other blogs too.

    Nanul, A brand called "Pepperidge Farm" puff pastry is widely sold in the frozen section of supermarkets.

  23. the bow idea is so coool!!!! I love the way it looks :)

  24. It is popular in American bakery too :) They usually sprinkle some granulated sugar and of course cinnamon or plain bow

  25. khari ani competition for that! I was so happy when i first discovered the amazing puff pastry sheets here...but due to the unhealthy fat content, i make these very rarely :(

  26. lol! reminds me the incident where i was told @ a "sugar free" dessert only to learn it used 2 cans condensed milk ;)
    khari looks so tempting & Meera's blog sure is full of lovely rcp's.

  27. Thanks a lot for this.My husband loves it.The moment I fininshed reading this recipe I preheated my oven and within 17 mnts they were ready

  28. I've had a box of puff pastry hanging around in the freezer for a few months now and this is exactly what I want to turn it into.

  29. ok.. Im gonna try them with pistachios and rose water syrup... maybe a little differently.. Love the pic nupur.. I love teatime snacks..

  30. First, the bikkies look flakiliciously yummy.

    Second, were these as crispy as the original Khari?

  31. Just want to have them with tea. Its raining here n all I want to have it now :). will try now.

  32. The moment I read the title of this post I KNEW you would be using puff pastry and i could really cry! Recently khari biscuits was also posted by Adhi Potoba and he even recommended a brand (I forget) which I have seen on other blogs too.

    Sigh, I do wish we could get puff pastry here - samosas, khari biscuits, puffs, the possibilities seem endless. We do get them readymade, but they are surely using Vanaspati (hydrogenated fat) and not butter!

  33. This is the reason why I am apprehensive to pick 'easy cooking' books. Some help from store-bought products is fine, as long as the dish 'becomes' something else. What is the point of making a dessert with cool whip and concentrated fruit juice. I would rather serve a bowl full of fresh fruits, even if I am a novice.

    Pardon my venting, but your post reflects what I had on mind for a long time.

  34. i am yet to try cooking snacks with puff pastry sheets here. i am hesitating cuz TH insists on eating unhealthy whenever he can and I don't want to add on!

    let me see if i can look for trans-fat free products. haven't looked around that much, actually.

  35. hey ,,
    this reminds me of the cone shaped cream rolls foun in indian bakery esp in pune...
    can u make that with these sheets,,what filling can be used.
    thanks nupur, i found them in kingsoopers,,but i guess trader joes brand has 0 transfat...cudnt find that though..
    pepperridge farm has 4 gms trans fat [:(]

  36. U to Nupur! Hee hee...That is special khari and its a perfect golden worth the indulgence.

  37. These remind me of the Khara puffs in the indian bakeries..Looks v yumm...

  38. I wanted to let you know that you have WONDERFUL recipes and its a pleasure browsing through ur blogs..I came across ur blog just recently, and simply loved it..Keep up the good work..Goodluck!

  39. I use to miss Khari biscuits in my intial days in US.Once i discovered pastry sheet i bake it right away.
    Nupur,you have an awesome blog.I have tried many of your recipes and each one was hit.


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