Bajra (Pearl Wheat) and Sesame Crackers
Happy and encouraged by the acceptance of my Cheesy Crackers by the Royal Highnesses. I went all out looking for more crispy options. Mr. 13 needs a munchy in the car as a pre-swim snack, which is loaded with complex carbs that gets slowly released into the body and I need to be innovative and on my fingertips at all times, so that no snack is repeated or boring enough to bring out the “teen-monster”. And hey I need my carb-fix too! or I tend to get moody as well. With that in mind I contemplated snipping open that long forgotten pack of bajra/ pearl wheat flour from the bottom of the drawer. My experience with this particular flour has been limited to adding a few tablespoons to wheat flour to make rotis (Indian flatbread) and it has not gone down well with the royalty at home. So considering it a failed project, it was abandoned. But remember how I tamed the Baked Cheesecake monster, well I decided to meet out the same treatment to Bajra and got it on my “To-Tame” List.
Bajra or Pearl Wheat is one of the oldest known cereal. It has been cultivated since pre-historic times, but its goodness, nutrition and health benefits were over-shadowed by its richer brother wheat. It is gaining in popularity again due to its gluten-free property. In India it continues to remain a poor man’s flour, to make flat breads or Rotlas as commonly known in parts of western India’s desert state of Rajasthan. This is a tricky flour to work with, as it is gluten-free it doesn’t have elasticity and the rolling pin can be quite useless. Rural women use their palms to slap the dough into flat bread and bake it on a hot griddle or tava. Theses flat breads have to be consumed hot or you may end up with a rubbery disc and run the risk of breaking a few teeth.
The Bajra flour has an earthy taste quite unmatched by wheat and there is a roughness to its texture and feel. Don’t get misled by its humble greyish brown looks….it packs flavour, is highly nutritious (magnesium and B vitamins), and fills up that bottomless pit called Tummy. I have flavoured it with curry powder, sesame seeds and finely chopped parsley. I have also used wheat flour so that rolling it is easier. Once you gain in confidence, I suggest reducing the wheat content. It was surprisingly a well-behaved dough. It is usually consumed in winters as its known for its warming properties (heatiness as my mom would say) so I served it with a cool yogurt based dip more on the lines of a Greek tzatziki.
What a change in taste and texture for the young one and its nice that he is opening up to difference…..loved the crispy thins that came out of the oven looking rustic and made-by-mom. Finally with these simple, crispy crackers I have cracked the Bajra code ! 🙂
BAJRA /PEARL WHEAT CRACKERS WITH SESAME SEEDS.
1 cup bajra flour
½ cup wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsps. Curry powder/ cumin powder/ chilly powder
1 tsp. green chillies chopped fine or paste
2 tblspns finely chopped parsley
2 tspns. Lightly roasted sesame seeds
Salt to taste
150 ml. Watered down butter milk
1 tablspn oil
- Preheat oven to 160oC
- Sift together the flours, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add in the spice powder, parsley and sesame. Mix it all in with your fingers
- Make a well in the centre and add in the buttermilk a little at a time. Don’t be in a hurry to pour in all the liquid, you may not require all of it. Mix in the flour. Bring the dough together and knead on a flat surface till it comes together in a rough ball. Add the oil and knead further till the oil is incorporated into the dough. It should be soft but not sticky.
- Flour the surface and roll out tennis ball sized dough balls into a large sheet as thin as you can. Cut into shapes and place on oiled baking sheets. Bake for 14-15 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack.
- Serve with Tomato Chutney or yogurt dip.