My earliest memories of tea time remain interspersed with the sounds of the jeep arriving at the porch signalling dad coming home at the end of his ” kaamjari “, excited barking of the dogs and my sister and I running across the long verandah to greet him. Signalling the close of a working day, the world seemed at peace with itself … the setting sun casting it’s beautiful glow over the emerald green tea bushes and the blazing bougainvilleas looking as though someone had set off a light within…
A very heavily laden three tiered tea trolley would shortly make its way from the kitchen wheeled in to the verandah where we would all sit for tea …everything was arranged in was some sort of ancient order – the plump tea pot with its hand embroidered tea cosy filled with fresh brew straight from the factory, glasses of steaming milk from the cows – all children usually had their personal cows … on the top tier with accompanying plates, starched napkins and cutlery … The second tier had savouries whilst the bottom tier cakes and biscuits . I still find it amazing how we had high tea every single day of the year with at least four things but no two days did the menu look or taste remotely similar. There were seasonal specialities like samosas made with a delicate homegrown potato and cauliflower filling – a sign that winter was nigh… Hot roasted “bhutta” or corn on the cob picked straight from the “maalibari” served with butter and slivers of lime in midsummer . Melt in the mouth nankathais that would put a Parisian bakery to shame and sandwiches with the most exciting of fillings from “chutney” to ” sausage”…
Every different “Memsaheb” and cook had their own specialities – Given that there was no equipment like electric beaters, piping bags or even a temperature controlled oven it’s astounding the standard and quality of what came out of those huge wood fired Agas and cool tile lined kitchen counters…
Those days are long gone… Most cooks like Monglu our cook have died and parents now live very different albeit social lives in bustling metros… However I cannot help thinking those tea times live on in their own way in the homes of the numerous “chai ka baby and babas” scattered all over the globe … Through recipes… Embroidered linen, little silver bells to name but a few… my house it’s little things like my mum’s tattered Duliajaan cookbook handed down to me, those amazing chutney sandwiches, white fluffy nankathais or even the light of the early evening sun on a summer evening falling on my freshly mowed lawn…
These are melt in the mouth Indian cookies usually pure white in colour with a crumbly buttery texture.
- 100 gms Ghee
- 1/2 cup powdered Sugar
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1/2 cup semolina
- 1/2 tsp powdered cardamom
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- Nuts for garnishing
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Beat the ghee and sugar until light and fluffy.
- To this add the flour, semolina, baking powder and baking soda which had been sieved. Mix to form a soft dough.
- Make small balls and put on a greased baking tray – they will spread so make sure there is adequate space in between.
- Put a cashew nut or almond as garnish and bake for 15 minutes making sure it cooks but does not brown.
- Gently remove from the tray whilst hot and put on a baking rack to firm up.