What I call the Pahadi cookie, is called by many other names- Roat, Rotana or Khajur. But this cookie is a whole lot healthier than your ordinary cookie. Made with whole wheat flour, desi ghee and gur, this is one of the most famous dishes of Uttrakhand. No preservatives are added and yet it is usually made to store or carry for long journeys.
I remember my childhood days in the tiny town of Pauri Garhwal, where we witnessed with wide-eyed wonder, as young brides would be sent off to their sasuraal with, among other things, Aarsa and Roat. This was called "paina", a kind of gift that she had got from her home to be distributed in her sasural.
This was traditionally how weddings were marked in small villages of Garhwal. These are the small memories that fill my mind whenever I make these traditional dishes. Today, as I share this recipe with you, dear HerZindagi readers, my attempt is to relive and reinvent memories again.
The roat is made from whole wheat flour, take 250 grams of that. We will also need about 2 tablespoons of Suji or Semolina. We will use jaggery or gud. For 250 grams flour, you will need 200 grams of gur. You will also need about 2 tablespoons of Desi Ghee. With that, we will use 2 teaspoons of cardamom powder, 3 teaspoons fennel seeds or saunf.
The first step is to mix flour and semolina in a big paraat or plate. To this add the cardamom powder, fennel seeds and add ghee to this flour mix. Rub the ghee in the dry flour till it starts clumping into small balls or laddus. Try bunching the flour in your hand and if it sticks, then it is an indication that enough ghee has been put in the flour. Now keep this flour aside.
Now take 1 cup water in a separate pan and add jaggery to it. Now put this mixture to boil. Make sure the jaggery melts into the water but does not burn. Once all the jaggery melts into the water, cook the syrup to make it a little thick. Once done, let this syrup cool down till lukewarm. Now strain it to remove any solids, and now use this jaggery syrup to knead the flour you had earlier kept aside. The consistency of the dough should be hard and crumbly. When you achieve a state where all the dough comes together so that small balls or pedas can be made, you are ready for the next step.
Dole out medium size pedas. Next, you will need roat or thekula mould to imprint the design on the cookies. You can also use forks or glass with cut design to give an imprint to your cookie. But the mould is available online and can be purchased on amazon.
The next step will be to fry these cookies. Heat some oil in a wok, you could also use ghee to shallow fry these. Fry on low flame, be patient and be sure not to overcook. Fry these cookies into a golden brown colour. Once done take them out on tissue paper to soak extra oil. When hot, the roat will be soft and crumbly so be careful when handling them else they will break. Let the fresh roast cool down and harden. Till this time, fix yourself a hot cup of tea and enjoy fresh roats.
With a lovely crumble on the outside and a mushy inside, the roats have a burst of freshness thanks to the fennel seeds. If you try this recipe, do tell me how it turned out.
Writer: Hema Mamgain
(The author is a mom and a grandmom, a teacher and a home chef. She enjoys cooking and feeding her family and loved ones. She is also a spiritual person who believes 'bhooke pet bhajan nahi hot', which means that there can be no prayer on an empty stomach)
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