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It’s been a while since I’ve had a request from one of my readers. This particular one was a happy coincidence as I had recently come across a new recipe for tewka. I must admit that I am not a big fan of this indian sweet; I cnt remember eating one in years but after I allowed myself to be convinced to sample the homemade version of a friend from the ISKCON community, I found myself asking for more and ended up taking the recipe home. If you happen to have any misgivings about tekwa as I did, I can guarantee that with this recipe you are gonna overlook all of them and will discover what you’ve been missing all along.

The original thekua is a traditional homemade cookie of northern India – Bihar, Jharkhand and eastern Uttar Pradesh. The dough is prepared from wheat flour, coconut powder, melted sugar and ghee and is deep fried till reddish brown in colour. It hardens on cooling, can be stored for weeks and its rich carbohydrate content makes it a popular sweet snack on long journeys.

Our mauritian tekwa however has nothing to do with its indian counterpart other than being deep-fried. Over here, they are more like large pooris, filled with a mixture of dholl and sweet spices, that puff up like pillows the moment you dip them in hot oil. They are the perfect thing to have with a steaming cup of tea on a dreary winter afternoon. We’ve been having quite low temperatures lately so I guess it’s gonna be on my to-make-soon list once more. Well, this one’s for you, Archana!

TEKWA

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup powdered milk

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbs butter or margarine

1/3 cup luke warm water

Yellow food colour

1/2 cup split peas/dholl gramme

1 tsp aniseed/gros anis

3 tbs dessicated coconut

Method:

  • Sift flour into a large mixing bowl. Add milk, baking soda and half of the sugar. Combine thoroughly.
  • Carefully rub in butter with fingertips until the mixture has a loose crumbly texture.
  • Add a pinch of food colour to the water before gradually adding it to the dry ingredients.
  • Mix well until everything comes together to form a soft, sticky ball of dough.

  • You may need to add extra flour as you knead it into a smooth ball. Cover dough and set aside.
  • Clean dholl against a white background to remove any impurities. Wash well and leave to soak for 30 minutes.
  • Bring water to boil in a heavy pan. Lower heat to medium and add dholl to boiling water. Do not stir.
  • Cook dholl until it is soft enough to be crushed between two fingers. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

  • Drain cooked dholl well to extract maximum moisture. Using a moulin à légumes, grind into fine, loose crumbs. If you are used to making dal puri at home, you should be familiar with this. Or use a food processor if you cnt find anything close to a moulin.
  • For the filling, carefully stir the remaining sugar, aniseed and coconut into the crushed dholl so that they are well combined.

  • Divide dough into 10 equal sized portions, shape each into a cup shape before you start filling.
  • Place 1 tablespoon of filling in each and pinch them closed. Keep on a lightly floured surface.
  • Roll out into discs of about 10cm diameter. Be careful not to let the filling ooze when rolling.

  • Heat oil in a shallow frying pan and deep fry tekwa in moderately hot oil until golden brown.
  • Run a test batch first to know the approximate temperature at which tekwas will puff up.
  • Drain well on absorbent paper and serve hot with a fresh cup of tea. Makes 10.

You cnt seriously call yourself a Mauritian if you’ve never had gato pima. Also called gateau piment or gato dhall, these deep fried balls of ground split peas are among the bestsellers at any food stall on the streets of towns and villages. If you are not picky about hygiene and calories, gato pima is the food to curb your hunger even if you have only Rs10 at hand.

The Quatre Bornes market place has the highest rated gato pima I know of but I fondly remember the fritters from my local street vendor – a frail old man with no hair or teeth, known to all as Baba. Baba always had a variety of deep fried savouries in his wooden lamalle but his 4 pou Rs1 marble sized gato pima were often among the first to be sold out.

I was quite amused to find that premixed frozen versions of the fritters are now sold in supermarkets though I’m yet to see someone actually buying those. *smirk*

GATO PIMA – SPLIT PEA FRITTERS

Ingredients:

250g yellow split peas/ dholl petit pois

2 large red onions, diced

1 bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped

1 bunch spring onions, chopped

3 green chillies, finely chopped

3 dried red chilies, finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons kitchen salt

Method:

  • Use yellow split peas [dholl petit pois] and not dholl gramme. The two look alike so have a good look at the label before you rip open the packet… and throw it away if it happens to have insects crawling out!
  • Remove impurities/stones and place in a large bowl. Fill bowl with water till split peas are completely soaked.
  • Allow to stand for at least 4 hours. No need to leave overnight.

  • Drain the split peas completely so that they are almost dry. Grind into a fine paste but do not make it smooth.
  • The texture of the paste is important for the quality and look of your fritters. Extra water or coarsely processed will yield poor results. Add onions, chillies, coriander, spring onions and salt to paste and mix well by hand.

  • In a deep heavy based pan or kadai, heat oil over medium heat. You may require around 2 cups for frying.
  • Make small loose balls out of the dough and gently drop in hot oil. Be careful so that hot oil does not splash.

  • Deep fry until fritters are golden brown in colour. Drain well between sheets of absorbent paper.
  • Serve hot with fresh baguette and chilli sauce. Freeze left over dough in airtight container for later use.

One interesting thing about gato pima is that it can be converted into a number of easy side dishes. Cook it with mashed tomatoes, garlic and fine herbs and you have a tasty rougaille. Halve your gato pimas and toss them with any salad. Or simply make a light curry out of them.

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