khakra 39
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THE KHAKHRA.

I tried all sorts of titles to this post…historical ones, descriptively tempting ones, funny (-to-me-but-lame-to-all-else) ones, and then I realized that the word KHAKHRA sounds grandiose enough to be placed up there, all by itself. After all, it’s got not one, but two K’s thrown into it and feels quite kingly up there on a pedestal. Especially if you breathe in deeply and belt out the “Khhh” with this deep throaty undertone.

The child in me also believes that it would be the perfect duck insult. In the hypothetical situation that you were a crabby old duck crossing the street and someone smashed your tiny webbed toes, this would be exactly the sort of expression that you’d quack out in a fit of self-violation and utter repulsion – KKhaKHRRAAA! [terrifying blood-shot beady duck eyes]

Now that I’ve unleashed my nonsensical irrelevant blabber1 on you, let me give you the low down on this beloved snack food of mine. Khakra is one of many yeast-less Indian bread variants out there – a hybrid of textures between the wheat-based Roti and the flour/lentil/chickpea/rice-born Papadum, and one that can be stored and munched on for many days after it’s slid off the griddle. The beauty of the Khakhra is that it does a similar crunchy shattering act that papadums are best known for, yet without the pimpled surface or pungency of a Papadum. Dare I say it, but the earthy, roti-like aftertaste of Khakhras makes me prefer them over Papadums anyday. [I already know of two Khakhra haters out there, so haters, bring it on - my comments section won't feel whole without you.]

Special thanks to @shebanx for giving me some awesome photo-editing tips to help me make my photo wrecks a tad bit more appealing.

The Khakhra was probably born in the kitchens of some culinary Einstein that hailed from the Indian state of Gujarat. Few things in the world would have the caveman in me trade in my thick juicy turkey leg for a bowl of spinach, but the Gujaratis, with their simple, yet outrageously flavorful and satisfying veggie dishes, might actually win that battle someday. A Gujarati lady once served me a “peas masala” dish, where the peas were not just some extras prancing about on the sidelines, but the actual stars, the heroes, the protagonists, dammit they were the MEAT of the dish. I’m ashamed to admit that I indulged in two solid helpings of this gloriously dressed-up dish of peas as though it were a hefty bowl of mutton masala fry.

Now these not particularly appetizing-looking parched shards of bread are typically made of wheat flour and a bunch of other ingredients that add spice and flavor, like red chillies, cumin…and something that I find really differentiates a good Khakhra from a brilliant one: dried fragrant fenugreek. Paired with yogurt or a cup of steaming hot chai, a stack of these are perfect for Paite Pooja (literal hindi -> english translation: Tummy Worship)

Oftentimes the wheat is mixed in with some other sort of millet, like Ramdev’s Bajra2 ones that I’ve been infatuated with for some time now. While I’m usually not a fan of mass-produced and packaged store-bought eats, the Ramdev brand of Khakhra with their little masala sprinkler pack inside absolutely defies the need to make my own homemade version. I’d have loved to dissect what else has gone into these packaged ones, but Ramdev has completely missed the memo asking manufacturers to List Your Ingredients on the Darned Box.3 [Food for thought: Rather than interfering in the nuclear policies of other countries, the U.S. should focus on imposing their OCD-ness for detailed listing of ingredients on every package, down to the last molecules of propylene glycol, potassium sorbate, acesulfame potassium and whatever other convoluted chemicals get thrown down the pipe into your vacuum-sealed goodie packet.]

Anyhoo, Khakhra with fenugreek is up there for me on the Scale of Colossal Crunchiness. It has all the perks of eating something that feels crispy and deep-fried, but without actually being deep-fried and without a soggy layer of grease speckled up top. I’ll sometimes just crunch on it between meals [like now]…or after a Gujarati friend told me about it being viewed as a healthy alternative to dinner in Gujarat, I have, on occasion, crackled up some Khakhra into a bowl of yogurt and convinced myself that I'm detoxing after a particularly wild day of being an ogre around anything edible that crosses my path. To my friend’s credit, it does boast being Low Calorie, Zero Sugar, Zero Cholestrol and Zero Transfat on the package, which of course, in the absence of the ingredients listed, I’ve happily and blindly accepted because a detox dinner never tasted this good.

Where you could buy your stack of Khakhras:

  • Madhoor Grocery: Ground Floor, Al Baker Building, Al Fahidi Street, Souk Al Kabeer, Bur Dubai, Dubai
    Landmark: Near International Traders Middle East Ltd

    Phone: +971 (4) 352-3609
  • I haven't checked, but I'm quite sure you can also get these at a branch of Al Adil Supermarket (there are a bunch around town, would probably call one from this list before heading out there to buy)

My extremely informative footnotes (aka dribble that I really should have edited out but didn’t have the heart to.):

1PS. More irrelevant blabber but I was itching uncontrollably to share it with any fellow Sesame Street fans out there. If there were an Indian equivalent to Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster, it would be the Khakhra Monster. A hairy cute little hairy spectacled very hairy monster...did I say hairy? I can see the scene before my eyes: long savory sheets of Khakhra laid out end to end, this cute little hairy monster goes top speed toward it, jangling his jaws as he saws through the sheets with frenzied excitement, crunchy bits flying helter skelter in the air – ME VANT KHAAAKRAA!)

1aPPS. I really need to switch to watching BBC or National Geographic so I can finally grow up.

2 I realize I’ve thrown out some pretty exotic words in this post like Bajra, but luckily for you and me, Wikipedia has decked itself out with a Bajra definition. There’s even a Khakhra definition:  “a popular vegetarian roasted Gujarati Indian thin cracker bread or snack item made from mat bean and wheat flour and oil.” It’ll be comforting to you that I’d never heard of Mat, or Moth Bean (which is what wiki helpfully redirects you to if you search for mat bean), until five seconds ago as I was trying to dredge up these definitions for you. Moth Bean doesn’t sound particularly appetizing as far as I’m concerned, in fact it sounds so wretched and musty that I’d rather my Khakhra didn’t contain it at all. Of course I’d have no way of knowing without the ingredients on the box.

3 The Ramdev box did have a portion on it concealed by what may have been the official English-Arabic government label. The white one that they slap on most packages here, right over the ingredients, which makes me foam at the mouth with rage at the ludicrous placement of it all. Anyhow, in my desperation to find out whether my beloved brand of Khakhra contained moth bean or not, I delegated the arduous task of peeling out the label without ripping the package to someone at home. Said assigned label-peeler did so impeccably using a hairdryer and his fingernails – to uncover...nothing. No ingredients. Niente.

Well, Moth Bean or not, this box of Khakhra totally rocks my world.





16 Comments

  1. Have i said this enough? You are awesome! And the funniest! Keep them coming!! :D
    I thoroughly enjoy all your postings! I so wish to reincarnate as your neighbour. Or you could even consider adopting me you know! :D My folks wouldn’t mind am sure.

  2. I hate khakras. And I’m half Gujarati. Your post was funny though. Still hate ’em.

  3. Couldn’t stop grinning … Who would have thought that a duck would cry Khaaakraaa … :D Your post reminded me of the film dialogue – Gujarati foods are given "khatarnak" names :) ..

    • InaFryingPan

      @Meris – **AWWW GIGANTIC BLUSH ALL OVER SHY AND HUMBLE BODY** I would adore having you as a neighbour, exotic cheesecake for me every night…green light for adoption at my end, LET’S DO IT!!

      @DevinaDivecha – Ahhh, I feel at peace now. I was just waiting for my lovely Khakhra haters to weigh in…now I can sleep. ;)

      @Najla – Are you referring to 3 Idiots?? That was absolutely the inspiration for my introduction, spot on! It was such a funny, memorable movie dialogue…

  4. Sally

    Fantastic new direction for your pictures. Can @shebanx help me too! Fabulous.

  5. You have other Gujarati friends?! The penultimate picture was brilliant, with the yogurt and chilis and the portrait (damn Penny, did she have to be so right?).

    Duck insult? Haha, where *do* you come up with things like that! I can confirm Al Adil does carry them btw. Brilliant stuff!

    Oh, and to take nothing away from you but that was an absolutely awesome comment by Meris!

    The Gujarati boy in me is tres satisfied :)

  6. I discovered that bajri khakra only once I moved here. Love the masala that comes with it. And when no one’s looking, does anyone lick the tiny crumbs that stay on your finger and the plate? YUM

    • InaFryingPan

      @Sally – Thank you! I just go around grovelling for photo help and someone occasionally throws me a line – so doesn’t hurt to ask :)

      @chiragnd – I absolutely have other Gujarati friends, but the inspiration of Khakhra as diet food was all yours! Yeah baby, look who’s got the seal of approval from an authentic Gujarati boy for her Khakhra post…*starts doing the garba to celebrate*

      (ps. I know, that Penny de Los Santos tutorial had a way deeper impact on me than I imagined…she sort of continues to grow on you, days after you’ve watched that video….)

      @Mishti – YEAH BABY, that’s me *points to self with KhakhraCrumbCoveredFinger*

  7. Swati

    Brilliant – simply superb . I for one loooooovvveeee khakras and agree the fenugreek ones are way up there. Adil does not have very good ones and I have not tried the ones that you mentioned above – will do so now. for me the ultimate ones come from the Health food strore in Mumbai ( along with yam’my chips)

  8. Francine Spiering

    "a tad bit more appealing"?? Your photographs make me wish I could dive through the screen and get a taste! Captivating story too, great post!

  9. dina

    I have been trying to comment but in vain… I love khakras..to think of it, i dont think thers anything i particulary hate amongst food items…:D College memories pour in when i think of em… lovely post and amazing pics as usual!!!:D

  10. Arva, you are a GEM….i love your posts, and your photos, maybe You should give me lessons, i ll pay you with profiteroles :)
    and the khakhra monster made me laugh to tears…i can picture it even if i never tasted any Khakhra before.

    • InaFryingPan

      @Swati – Sweeet, you get your stock straight from Mumbai. I need me the name of this health store you’re talking about girl, give it to me.

      @Francine Spiering – Ah thank you Francine, you are too kind! *happy floating feeling*

      @dina – why in vain, why why why? Is my blog comment box acting snarky? Well, thanks for the comment – t’was not in vain, I have found me a fellow Khakra lover!

      @rado – you serious??? payment in profiteroles? DONE, I\’M ALL YOURS MA CHERIE!
      (…um, what am I giving lessons on again…? lose sight of things when people mention profiteroles…)

    • Food photography…silly! :)

  11. saleem

    You write well – though not a fan of Khakhra – may be tempted to give it a try once more.

  12. ekta

    you are soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cute n funny… n u write really well.. n i do love khakras..

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