Thursday, September 18, 2014

Nimki (Bengali Namak Pare)

Nimki (Bengali Namak pare) 

Memories can take you in a trance. It makes you do things that you usually do not do. This is actually the first Durga Puja where I am away from my family. To be fair growing up Durga Puja meant 3 things to me, visiting my maternal grandmother on Shasti which is one of the  auspicious days during the Durga Puja , holidaying somewhere and then eating a lot of sweets on Dashami but when I would get tired of the sweets I would run to the 'Bharar Ghor' which means the store-room , take the container which contained crispy, crunchy salty treats and take a handful and keep munching on them.

As far as I can remember there has not been one single day in our family when 'Nimki' was not present in the house. Nimki is a deep fried crunchy flaky crispy snack which is an utter delight to have with your tea or just like that. Its known as Namak Pare in the Northern parts of India but that variant is slightly different.

To be fair lets talk a bit about the lady who was responsible for the year round presence of Nimki at our home. If I were asked to describe my amma 'paternal grandmother' I would say she is intensely independent in all its true sense, extremely strong willed, confident, progressive, former school teacher , traveler and the lady who cannot live without her 'Nimki's . If she would have had her way she would have carried these crispies everywhere be it Europe or Australia or Africa but sadly for her the immigration at various airports have different ideas.

Anyway what has always marvels me is despite being all those things she has this intense interest in the kitchen.  Age might have slowed her down but she refuses to bow down to age and creates a ruckus in the kitchen but then again we can't take the fire away else the candle will stop burning all together.

To be fair the one thing that my grandmother taught me was to take the best of things without prejudice and even though there is no room for prejudice in this case the recipe I followed is my Mimi's (aunt's who never gets one single dish imperfect) and with her tips anyone can make perfect Nimkis such is her ability to teach all which I would share with you. She gets her recipes from her mother which was shared a good 40 years ago.

I decided that this was the day I would make Nimkis which led to a phone call where all I could say was 'I am making Nimkis and I remembered you' to which my grandmother said, 'I will make Nimkis for you when you come back' Well this time I will make her those crispy delight.

I dedicate this to everyone and serving this with all those fabulous sweets on Dashami , Navaratri and any special occasion is sure to win your guests over.

Before we begin one should know that controlling  and temperature and having patience are the key ingredients to this recipe

So here is a recipe which makes enough Nimki for 5 to 6 people

2.5 cups all purpose flour
Pinch of baking soda
Salt as per taste (I needed 1.5 tsp)
Fat pinch of Oion seeds 'Kala jeera'
6 tbsp vegetable oil for the dough
1 tbsp rice flour (the traditional method)  or cornflour
1/2 cup lukewarm  water
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp chili powder
Juice from 1 lemon

Refined Oil for deep frying

Start by making your dough by dumping the dry ingredients along with the spices and salt in a large bowl and mixing them with your clean hands and then make the hole in the center and add the oil and slowly add the water bit by bit working your dough continuously. At first the dough will be a bit sticky but you must keep working it till it becomes a smooth elastic dough. Leave it covered for 15 minutes and now heat the oil (medium flame )  in a deep bottomed pan. Divide the dough and roll it out and then cut it into diamond shaped patterns and deep fry till golden on both the sides.

You must remember that when you put the diamond shaped dough in the oil it must be on medium heat and after  1 minute turn it down to low and fry it on low. It will take you anywhere between 10 minutes to 15 minutes. You know they are almost done when they feel hard to touch with the spatula .

Now you must increase the temperature to medium for 2 minutes and then take them out with a slotted spoon , drain them and then let them cool down before trying them out.Store them in air-tight containers and enjoy with your cup of tea.

Important tips :-

  1. The lemon juice and baking soda make the nimkis crispy 
  2. Controlling temperature is very very important. If you try frying the nimkis on high heat it will burn them or give it a bitter taste. 
  3. Don't be scared to use as many nimkis in the oil as possible because in the beginning they might seem a bit crowded they soon start frying and separating 
  4. Testing their done-ness is a bit like testing biscuits where you need them to completely cool down 
This is part of Kolkata Food Blogger's Durga Puja Event 

1 comment:

  1. I still remember my parents running out of nimki once during bijoya dashami since I had finished the entire stock and didn't bother to inform them. Two kinds of nimki(these small diamond-shaped ones and the larger triangular ones), bode and naru are the bijoya staples at my place. Various mishtis, chops, cutlets, rolls and shingaras are added to the fare these days but I'm not very fond of this digression.