Thattai or Savory rice crispy
Coming from a south Indian Brahmin family, I was used to having certain ‘batchanam’ or finger foods for festivals like Diwali. I remember my mom making a drum full of mixture and now I wonder how she had the patience and energy to do so much while my brother and I were toddlers. I can quite surely say that’s not going to be easy for me. Anyway, coming back to my recent experiment, I was thinking of ways by which I can satiate my husband’s desire to have something crisp (what we call ‘norukku theeni’ in Tamil) along with rice for lunch. Normally he would have potato chips but as the care taker of my family’s health, I couldn’t quite agree with that. Thattai is one of the common finger foods that both of us like but I was always too scared of the amount of oil it soaks. Then Bingo, why not try baking thattai. So that is how and why I tried this recipe. Though I have tried to bake few other dishes which are conventionally deep fried, they did not taste as good as their deep fried counterparts. But thattai and murukku were exceptions. I was so glad after creating this recipe as even people with diabetes or cholesterol can now enjoy thattai.
I have tried to explain the recipe and procedure for baked thattai and if you wish to fry it you can do so just by deep frying instead of following the baking step.
I have used my mom’s secret tip to nice crispy delicious thattai. She usually heats oil and adds to the flour before making the dough. Except for the baking part, the rest of the recipe is my mom’s. So, credit goes to her !!
1 cup rice flour
Chilly powder as required
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or groundnut oil
Sesame seeds (I prefer black ones but white ones should be fine) about 1 teaspoon
Heat the oil (make sure it does not smoke) and add to rice flour. Add the chilly powder, sesame seeds and salt to the flour and pour water little by little to make a ball of dough. When you try to take some dough in your hand, you should be able to make a firm ball, if not, add more water.
Preheat the oven at 165degC. On a baking tray spread a baking paper and start making the thattais by taking small balls of dough and patting them flat. Do not make them very thin as they would become too brittle and not tasty enough and if made too thick, they will not be crisp enough. Allow them to dry in the air for about 10 to 15 minutes while the oven preheats. Then place in the oven for 10 minutes. Examine the thattais at the end of 10 minutes, if still a bit soft continue baking for another 5-8 minutes. If the thattais have started becoming crisp, turn them and continue baking for another 10 minutes. Check if the thattais are fully crisp now. From my observation, if we over cook the thattai, it becomes too crispy and tasteless. I also noticed that when adequately cooked and crisp, it is not as deep coloured as its deep fried counterpart. Also, when deep fried, the chilli powder seems to lose a bit of heat but when baked they do not lose so much heat, so watch out for how much chilli powder you add. My mom usually soaks Toor dal and adds the dough so that adds to the crunch and crisp but I did not try it in my baking recipe for fear of thattai going soggy. If you wish you could try it more so with deep fry.