The Saffron Cardamom Cheesecake was a hit at home. Even the mothership approved, with just one tiny remark. Shouldn’t I have made a traditional sweet to start off my countdown to this year’s festivities?
With that in mind, I decided to go totally conventional.
For years, my mother has made namak para from the same recipe handed down to her. I took the recipe, switched it to sweet, and made gratifying bowls full of shankarpali.
Fair warning to the purists - I did not remain faithful to the old-style recipe.
What is shankarpali?
Some call it sweet tukdi. Others know it by shakkarpara. And a few name it shankarpali. It doesn’t matter how you recognize these pint-sized, deep-fried munchies.
All of us enjoy them by the fistfuls, emptying bottomless jars of these crunchy bites of magic spiced with cardamom in no time.
The sweet snack is popular in western parts of Indi, customarily prepared during Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, and Diwali. It's a popular treat made during Christmas too.
The snack can be cooked savory, in which case it’s known as namak para.
Difference between shankarpali and shakkar pare?
A lot of people think that shankarpali and shakkar pare are the same thing. They are not. There is a big difference in the recipe.
Common in northern parts of India, shakkar pare are dunked in sugar syrup after being fried. That’s what gives these snacks the characteristic white tinge.
Preparing the sugar syrup is arduous because it needs that perfect two to three thread consistency. That’s why I opted for the much easier, but equally moreish shankarpali!
How to Make Shankarpali?
Start by whisking all-purpose flour, cardamom powder, sesame seeds, and a pinch of salt. The next step is to add sugar. I replaced it with icing sugar.
Why? Because it has a touch of cornstarch, imparting a flakier texture to the shankarpali.
Using melted ghee, rub all the ingredients together. You’ll soon have a mixture that looks like bread crumbs.
At this point, a lot of people add suji (semolina). I had to skip it because I was all out of suji.
Gradually pour water to the mixture and knead until you have a very pliable, soft, and supple dough. The dough shouldn’t be hard or tight. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and let it rest.
The ghee is crucial. It makes the shankarpali very crumbly and imparts to it the best of flavor.
You cannot pass over resting the dough. Give it at least 30 minutes, and rolling out the dough will become that much easier.
Frying the shankarpali
After the dough has rested, divide into two and then roll both of them into thin sheets. You can split the dough into more portions if you want to roll smaller sheets.
Using a sharp knife, cut the rolled-out dough into any shape you prefer. Some prefer circles and others squares, but the customary pattern is diamond.
While you’re cutting the dough sheet, get the oil heating. Once it is ready, deep fry the shankarpali.
The oil has to be hot before you begin frying. Test a tiny drop of dough. If it immediately rises to the surface while sizzling, the oil is hot enough.
For the actual frying, turn the flame to medium-high. If you fry the shankarpali on high heat, the exterior will burn, and the interior will remain uncooked.
Lower heat ensures that each bite-sized shankarpali is cooked well inside-out to get that gorgeous deep brown shade with hints of gold.
Variations of shankarpali recipe:
If you’re looking for exceptionally crunchy shankarpali, definitely add the semolina.
You can replace all-purpose flour with wholewheat flour if you prefer.
Instead of water, you can use regular milk for kneading the dough. Coconut milk also works.
For those who don’t have icing sugar, please go ahead with regular sugar. I am going to try the shankarpali with jaggery powder and let you know how that goes.
My shankarpali were bite-sized. You can make them bigger if you like.
While I haven’t tried the baked versions, I do know that a lot of people do. In case you decide to use the oven, I’d love to know about it.
As many states there are in India, there is an equal number of shankarpali recipes. So, please take it in just about any direction your taste buds desire or traditions demand.
Serving the Shankarpali
Thanks to the ghee and deep frying, they are utterly crispy, puffy, and flaky. Their pastry-like texture melts in your mouth.
And barring the resting period, shankarpali take no time to prepare. I really have no idea why I haven’t been making more of them!
You can serve the sugary, cardamom spiked snacks warm, but I recommend cooling them completely before storing. It will preserve the crunchiness.
I barely had the time to do a photoshoot before the kids pounced on them. They gobbled as many of the Shankarpali as they could fit in their hands with each bite.
I manfully resisted and munched on the deep-fried goodness with my evening tea. But really these bites of rapture are marvelous snacks for any time!
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- 1.5 cup All-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 2 tbsp Sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup Icing sugar
- 1 tsp Cardamom powder
- 1/4 cup Ghee, melted You may need more
- 1/4 cup Water
- Oil for frying
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, icing sugar, sesame seeds, and cardamom powder.
- Pour over the melted ghee and rub into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. The mixture should sort of clump together when you hold a portion of it in your fist. If it doesn't, add another tablespoon or two of ghee.
- Now slowly add the water to knead a soft, smooth dough.
- Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat oil in a deep pan/ kadai on medium heat.
- Divide the dough in half and roll out into a thin circle or a square. Cut into diamond or square shapes.
- Drop a small piece in the oil, if it immediately rises to the surface while sizzling, the oil is hot enough.
- Drop a few pieces of dough at a tie in the hot oil, fry on medium heat until puffy and golden brown.
- Use a slotted spoon to take the shankarpali out. Drain on a plate covered with paper napkins.
- Let cool completely before serving. Store in an air-tight jar.