Mathri is a delicious golden fried savory snack with subtle notes of fenugreek and carom seeds (ajwain). Resembling the peeling of puff pastry, a hallmark of quality mathri is the delicate cascade of flakes that crumble in your mouth with each bite. The inclusion of ghee lends both flakiness and a rich, indulgent flavor to the mathri.
Foods that can travel
While mathri holds a special place during Diwali, it is also a staple for various other occasions and is a must before embarking on journeys. If you have ever met a Gujarati, you know that we never venture far without our food.
When we travel abroad, we always carry our own supplies, as many of us follow a vegetarian diet and finding suitable options can be a challenge. Mathri ranks among the top picks in our travel amenities because it's filling, easy to eat, has a long shelf life, and pairs perfectly with a simple cup of tea.
In fact, the roots of mathri go back to a time when people embarked on long journeys to reunite with relatives during Diwali. Given the long distances of these journeys, a long shelf life was essential for any food brought along, making mathri a perfect choice.
What do you need to make Mathri?
Mathri requires only a handful of basic ingredients: whole wheat or all-purpose flour, salt, ghee, caramel seeds, kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), oil and water. While some choose wheat flour, others prefer all-purpose flour. Some incorporate ingredients like semolina or gram flour (chickpeas) to give their unique twist.
How to prepare Mathri
Creating mathri is a simple process. Just mix together flour, salt, kasuri methi, ghee, carom seeds and water to form the dough. It is important to note that mathri dough is not kneaded into a soft, smooth consistency. Instead, the dough should be firm and stiff, as this is the key to getting the perfect texture.
Serving and eating Mathri
Mathri tastes great when paired with a cup of hot ginger chai, however many choose to eat it with mango pickle as well. Another side that goes well with mathri is lasun (garlic) chutney.
Tips for Mathri
- Do not over-ferment—For the perfect toothy texture, skip the kneading and opt for a simple mix to bring the dough together. Repeat until desired texture.
- Getting the oil temperature right—To nail the temperature of the oil, drop a small piece of dough into the wok. Instantaneous rise means too hot, slow rise indicates cool oil. The gradual rise with bubbles signals the perfect frying heat.
- Crush the spices— Enhance the flavor of mathri by crushing carom or cumin seeds between your palms before adding it. This easy step helps release the aromatic oils of the spices, enhancing the flavor profile and making your mathri experience even more enjoyable.
- Don't go too thick or thin—Achieve the ideal mathri balance by avoiding extreme thicknesses. Too thick can stay flawless, while too thin can turn into a puri. Strive for the perfect middle ground to ensure an enjoyable result. Please refer to the photos for guidance.
- Configuration of mathri—For shaping mathri, a rolling pin and board work great, but don't worry if you don't have them. A thin bottle or glass and a cutting board can serve as alternatives for effectively rolling and shaping your pout.
“Mathri is a traditional North Indian fried snack. It has a flaky and satisfying texture with crisp edges and a subtle hint of fenugreek and ajwain. Once you find the Indian spices, it's very quick and simple to make.” —Joan Velous
2 cups whole weat flour
2 teaspoons carbine (ajwain) seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons fenugreek kasuri (grated dried fenugreek leaves), optional
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepperoptional
1 teaspoon fine salt
4 tablespoons mistletoemelted
1/2 cup hot water
2 cups neutral oilfor frying
Gather the materials.
In a large bowl, mix 2 cups whole wheat flour, 2 teaspoons carom seeds (ajwain)., 1 1/2 teaspoon optional kasuri methi (grated dried fenugreek leaves), 1 1/2 teaspoons optional freshly ground black pepperand 1 teaspoon fine salt.
Addition 4 tablespoons ghee, melted and mix well. You will notice the aroma of the ingredients wafting through the room. It will be very hot, so use a spatula until you are comfortable using your hands.
Mix together (but do not knead) until the ingredients come together and start to resemble very shaggy dough, 7 to 12 minutes. If you knead the mixture into a mass, it will be a little crumbly, but it should hold together rather than fall apart.
Once this consistency is reached, add up to 1/2 cup warm water, 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time, continuing to mix until the water is incorporated before adding more. Using minimum water ensures that the mathri will be crispy and flaky. The finished dough will be firm, with visible cracks and when pressed it will burst around the edges.
Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 30 to 45 minutes.
Take small portions (about 1 tablespoon) of the dough and shape them into balls by gently rolling them between your palms.
Flatten each of these balls using a rolling pin. Don't worry about achieving perfectly even edges. In fact, the dough is meant to have slightly uneven edges. The dough should be 1/2 centimeter (about 3/8 inch) thick.
Prick each matri a few times with a fork leaving tiny holes in the center. This helps to ensure that the matris are evenly baked and do not puff up in the center.
Heat 2 cups neutral oil in a wok and heat until the oil reaches 300 F to 325 F, place 4 to 6 flattened matris in the oil.
Flip the matris after a few minutes so they brown and cook evenly on both sides, 3 to 5 minutes total.
Once the mathris are golden brown, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon or skimmer and place them on absorbent paper to drain the excess oil.
Mathri can be kept in airtight containers and retain its freshness for 1 week to 10 days. Beyond this period, they start to acquire a greasy smell and have a reduced taste.
Feeling adventurous? Try this:
- Use all-purpose flour—You can use all-purpose flour instead of wheat flour and follow the same recipe, however in this case the addition of black pepper is necessary for the best flavor.
- Bake the matri—If you prefer not to fry, baking is also an option. The process for preparing the dough remains the same, then place the flattened trays in the oven and bake at 350 to 375 F for 20 to 25 minutes. Remember to turn them halfway through to ensure even cooking on both sides.
- Try other spices— Other aromatic ingredients you can add are cumin seeds and kalonji (onion seeds).
- Get creative with shapes—Although the round mathri is the traditional choice, it is not uncommon to come across triangle and square variations as well.
|Nutrition facts (per portion)|
View full nutrition label
|Quantity per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Saturated fat 8 g||38%|
|Dietary fiber 5 g||19%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||1%|
|Calcium 23 mg||2%|
|Iron 2 mg||10%|
|Potassium 186 mg||4%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to the daily diet. 2,000 calories per day is used for general dietary advice.|
(Nutritional information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)