There is an Indian spice shop near Coolidge Corner in Brookline called Madras Masala where I stock up on most of my spice needs. It has way more selection than the grocery store and is also much cheaper (and cheaper than some of the more trendy spice merchants in the Boston area) I ran out of cumin recently (it happens a lot) and was excited to pop in for a re-up. Every time I go there I try some of the snacks by the register like freshly made potato samosa and other little fried pockets of fun. This time something caught my eye that I had never seen before. A crunchy cumin filled treat that looked like something from the Artisan Knot store in Portlandia. On first taste I dubbed it the Indian cheeto and looked up a recipe to make it at home. I didn’t have all the ingredients though so I was forced to go back to Madras Masala! Such is life’s vicious cycle.
Asafoetida is so stanky that I need to double bag it. In fact this is an unopened container that I bought only a few days ago and I STILL had to double bag it and you could still smell it when you opened the cabinet it was stored in. Don’t get me wrong, I love the smell, but it isn’t something I want my house to smell like and I don’t think the roomies would appreciate that either.
The dough is super simple to make.
Some cold butter and water and we are ready to go.
I almost failed here because I thought I had my grandmothers sugar cookie gun and thought that it was going to be perfect for this step. I realized though that I left it in storage and had to scramble for another way to do it. One pastry bag was not strong enough for this thick dough, so I ended up needing to triple bag it for this to work!!!
I pressed them slightly just to get the nests to stay as one in the hot oil.
Salt and cool.
These are soo fun to me. And tasty too! They are an addicting snack that is fun to eat because of the weird shape.
I just love the funky look of them.
Also there is something magic about whole cumin seeds in the fryer.
It might be fun to make these into Celtic knots for St Patrick’s day.
My dough was derived from a bunch of different recipes and techniques I saw online. A lot of recipes toasted the flours before making the dough, but I felt that that was overkill because we are toasting it while frying it right? I made sure to have plenty of cumin, ajwain, asafoetida, and salt, because that is where all the flavor comes from. I also made mine smooth which is how I ate them at madras masala, even though most recipes online use a star shaped extruder to create a more rough texture.
3 cups rice flour
1 cup urad flour
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons whole cumin
1 teaspoon asafoetida
1 teaspoon ajwain powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Mix all the dry ingredients Cut in the cold butter until it is well mixed. Slowly incorporate cold water about ¼ cup at a time until the dough is formed. About ¾ cup or 1 cup total water. You don’t need to be super serious about the coldness of the butter and water like with a finicky pie crust. Knead until smooth, about 3 minutes. Adjust water if needed. Dough should not be crumbly (too dry) or sticky (too wet). Use a cookie press or something along those lines to make the tubes. Press it out onto a greased plate or piece of wax paper to first form your shape, then drop it into the fryer. Salt right when they come out of the fryer and allow to dry and cool before serving.