Thursday, 27 July 2017

bengali spiced jaggery biscuits

I’ve recently gone into baking overdrive and have been practically glued to the oven, recipe testing as well as for general treats. Sweets, savouries and a spectacular unicorn cake for my sister’s 30th birthday which topped it all. However a very simple no fuss recipe included biscuits inspired by the flavours of Bangladesh. Sometimes (a lot of times!) I sit there dreaming up recipe combinations or re-imagining traditional dishes as something a bit different.


These crunchy little biscuits are based on my mother’s handesh recipe. Handesh are fried molasses cakes, made for special occasions such as Eid, or during the winter harvest festival in Bangladesh. Every family has their own version and my family include spices in the batter – which isn’t essential. I’ve added ground fennel, cardamom and cinnamon to my biscuits for a delicate and unusual flavour. This pairs perfectly with the fudgy taste of jaggery, which is an unrefined sugar popular in the Indian subcontinent.

Ingredients (makes 24)
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g jaggery
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground fennel
50g coarse semolina
150g plain flour

Method
Using a sharp knife shave bits of the jaggery until you have the right amount. Place this, along with the butter in a small pan and melt over low heat, stirring regularly until the jaggery has dissolved. This will take a few minutes and you may need to break the jaggery with your spoon to help it along.

Once the butter and jaggery are well combined and there are no lumps, pour into a mixing bowl, stir in the spices and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Preheat your oven to 180c or 160c fan/gas mark 4.

Add the semolina to the butter and jaggery mixture and stir through until combined them mix in the flour in two additions. Bring the mixture together with your hand until you have a soft dough, being careful not to over mix or knead. Line two baking trays with parchment paper and begin preparing your biscuits.

Press 1 level tbsp of the mixture into the spoon. The mixture will be a little greasy, so gently push to release it and place on the baking sheet, flat side down. Repeat for the remaining mixture. Make sure to leave about 2 inches between each biscuit as they will expand slightly. Gently flatten each round tablespoonful and press in a flaked piece of almond if you like.

Bake for 16-18 minutes, until golden. Cool for 10 minutes before enjoying. Once the biscuits are completely cooled they can be stored for a few days in an airtight container.

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