We Indians always stock up lots of snacks which are generally deep fried and these snack varieties vary from region to region. The snacks in North India is mostly prepared with Besan,wheat flour and maida while in South most of the snacks (60-70%) are prepared with rice flour apart from besan and maida.
Apart from the famous Chakli,another rice flour based snack which is quite famous is 'Savory Rice cracker' which is known in south India with various names; ' Chekkalu or Pappu Billalu' in Andhra,'Nippat' in Karnataka and 'Thattai' in Tamilnadu.While the basic ingredients are same Chekkalu and Thattai tastes and looks almost similar where as Nippat/Nippattu(of Karnataka) differs in thickness,taste and texture.Check my earlier 'Nippat masala' post to see how the nippattu looks like-there I used baby nippats but in general it is of 2-3" diameter.Chekkalu are made basically very thin and crispy and they are very light and you can easily have 5-6 chekkalu at one go, while you cannot have more than 2 nippats at one go.
Though they are easily available in many shops in south,it is very rare to find good quality and tasty ones in the rest of India or even abroad. So the only option is to always source them from south or make them by yourselves. It though takes some time to gain expertise in preparing these fried snacks-while it is an easy snack to prepare but if the quality of rice flour is not good, you can easily mess it and end up with hard crackers. I have highlighted a few pointers to get good chekkalu and I hope it would be of help.Now back to the recipe.
(makes around 20-22 small size)
1 cup fresh Rice flour
1/4 cup Chana dal(or moong dal or both)
2 tbsp Sesame seeds
3-4 Green chillies
2 tbsp finely chopped Curry leaves
1/2 tsp Red chili powder
1 tbsp Butter,softened at room temperature
Salt to taste
Oil,to deep fry
- Soak chana dal for 2-3hrs.Drain well.You can use moong dal or a mix of both for this,they add nice taste to chekkalu.
- Grind green chillies and ginger to a coarse paste in mixer.
- In a big bowl mix rice flour with salt.
- Add ground ginger-green chili mixture,sesame seeds,torn curry leaves,soaked and drained chana dal,red chili powder and butter and mix well thoroughly.
- Just sprinkle few drops of water (1/4 cup approx) and knead into a dough.Do not add more water,use little amount amount of water just to combine to a dough.Knead well.If you take a small ball and try to flatten on ur palm it should crack at the ends which indicates right consistency.
- Take a plastic sheet and smear oil over it.You can even use milk covers.
- Mean while heat oil in a kadai over medium heat to its smoking point.
- Take a very tiny gooseberry sized ball and flatten it using your palms to a disc,2-3" in diameter on the greased sheet.Repeat the process and make 6-7 for a batch.Prick them using a fork which ensures that they don't puff up in oil.Remember we got thin crisp chekkalu,not the soft pooris.:)
- Drop them carefully from sides of the kadai taking care that they don't get fold while dropping into oil and fry them and turn them to the other side and fry until golden brown in color.Always fry in medium hot oil otherwise low heat will result in very hard chekkalu and high heat will result in soft chekkalu.It is always better to taste in between to check whether you are getting the right crispiness or not.
- Drain them on kitchen napkins to remove excess oil.When you fry them they would have light golden color which turns out deep dark brown in color after they become cool and they also become more crunchy afterwards.
- Cool them and store them in air tight container.
- Always use freshly ground rice flour(flour mill or home made) instead of the one available in grocery stores for good and crispy chekkalu.Rice flour quality is the key factor for the taste and texture.If the rice flour is very finely ground(like what we get in grocery stores) it will result in hard chekkalu,if it is mill ground with a slight coarse texture they yield good crackers.
- If you want to double the recipe,always add 1 tbsp butter per 1 cup of flour and adjust the other seasonings as required.The spice level is according to your wish and also add the chana dal in proportionately.
- If you are making in a larger portion,once all the ingredients are mixed well add water to only some portion and make the batch and then add water to the remaining batch.It is very important to do it in small batches else the dough becomes soggy and not gives crispy chekkalu.
- You can even add 1/4 cup ground fried gram powder to the dough which adds nice taste to chekkalu,it is optional though.
- You can add roasted,peeled and coarsely ground groundnuts(1/4 cup) to the dough,it gives very nice and distinct taste to it.
Check out other Diwali savouries in my blog here: