Thattai (meaning flat disc) are inexorably delicious crackers prepared in our family for Deepavali. It is so astonishing to see numerous varieties of thattai made all over India using various spices, lentils & grains. Thattai found in every state, every district and even every family has its own distinct taste, flavour, texture or colour. Also it has different names like thattu vadai, thattai murukku in Tamilnadu, nippattu in Andhra Pradesh, chekkalu in Karnataka, papdi in North India. Here is the recipe for thattai prepared in our family for generations:
Yields: 31 thattai
- Idli rice – 1 cup (200 g)
- Bengal gram (kadalai paruppu/ split chickpeas) – 1 tbsp
- Black gram (ulundhu) – 1 tsp
- Black gram flour – 1 tbsp
- Roasted gram (pottu kadalai) flour – 1 tbsp
- Ghee or butter or hot oil – 1 tsp
- Red chilli powder – 1½ tsp
- Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
- Asafoetida powder (hing) – ¼ tsp
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Coconut pieces – 1 tbsp
- Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
- Peanut oil or coconut oil for deep frying – about 500 ml
Dough making: Time taken – 10 min (excluding the time for soaking & flour making)
- Wash & soak rice (for 3 hours) and Bengal gram & blackgram separately.
- Grind rice into a fine paste after adding enough water required for smooth grinding.
- Transfer the dough to a mixing bowl.
- Add black gram flour, roasted gram flour, red chilli powder, turmeric powder & asafoetida powder into the dough and mix well.
- Add salt & ghee and knead until incorporated.
- Add soaked lentils, coconut pieces & curry leaves and mix well.
- Now divide dough into goose berry sized balls and cover them with dry cloth.
- Place a ball of dough on a clean dry cloth, press & spread it with the tip of your fingers into a thin disc.
- Press 15 more balls in the same way while leaving enough space between each disc.
- Now heat oil (1 inch depth) in a frying pan over medium flame.
- When you notice the oil beginning to smoke, reduce the flame to low.
- Remove a disc by slightly lifting the cloth & placing the disc onto your fingers (except thumb) and drop it carefully into oil (at about 170 deg C).
- Repeat step#5 to drop 3 more discs into oil and fry them in medium flame.
- When the sizzling sound settles, remove them using frying spoon.
- Place fried thattai on paper towels to drain excessive oil.
- Repeat steps 5 to 8 to fry the next batch.
- Now turn off the stove.
- Repeat steps 1 to 10 to press another set of discs until all the dough is used up.
- When fried thattai reach room temperature, store them in an air-tight container.
- Serve crispy savory thattai with tea or coffee in the evening.
Tips & Tweaks:
- You may use store-bought black gram flour or prepare it at home by dry roasting lentils in medium flame, grind them at room temperature & sieve through a fine mesh; You can also grind roasted gram and sieve the flour before using.
- If you find your dough sticky, wrap it in a dry cotton cloth for some time; it helps to absorb the excessive moisture.
- It took 50 min for pressing & frying all these thattai; my grandma could have done it much faster than me. If you have a person to assist you in frying or pressing, you would be able to finish it in 30 min.
- I fried 4 thattai in a batch & hence pressed 16 at a time; you may change the batch size according to the surface area of oil & size of cloth.
- I used cold-pressed peanut oil and you can adjust the heat & time according to the oil you are using; We can make perfect crispy thattai only when we fry them constantly in medium flame.
- If you find it laborious to press the dough, place it between 2 greased polythene sheets (or baking sheets) and press with roti/ tortilla press or you can press it as shown below. At the end you need to press with your fingers to flatten them as thin as possible. But I prefer to press them on a piece of cloth rather than plastic sheet as it absorbs the moisture (unlike polythene sheets) & in turn helps to make thattai crispier & faster.
If you want to make thattai in a jiffy, you can make the following changes in the above recipe:
- Replace rice dough with store-bought raw rice flour.
- Replace soaked lentils with roasted gram or roasted peanuts.
- You can just add crushed peppercorns & cumin seeds replacing curry leaves, coconut pieces, chilli, turmeric & asafoetida powder.