I call it "special" only because I made it for Diwali - but maida chips are really basic when it comes to savoury snacks! Still, like a lot of fried things, they're very more-ish. Although I love all the savouries made for this festival, I have to say I lack the patience to make a lot of items. At this point I can only think back in complete admiration to those days when my grandmother/mother would make what seemed like TONNES of items!
One especially enduring memory for me is from when we were in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. I remember my mother making an entire bucketful of "mixture" - literally a mix of a variety of savoury snacks. You could add as many items as you wanted to the mixture - the more the merrier. You could find everything ranging from fried peanuts, ribbon pakoda, thenkuzhal, fried chana, omapodi, cashewnuts, potato crisps, fried aval or poha, maida chips and so on. The really amazing thing was that my mother made each and every item separately, all by herself. At the end of that marathon effort, there was literally a bucketful of mixture - 17 kilos of it! This is a true story - I double checked with my mother just to make sure I hadnt had a hallucination!
Nowadays I doubt many people go to that much trouble, since very good quality sweets and savouries are easily available in the shops. Even my mother thinks back on to those 17 kilos of mixture with a considerable amount of awe - she cant imagine doing that sort of thing today. Not at home, certainly. I suppose caterers and cooks at weddings are the only people who are nowadays used to making such huge quantities!
I would probably have gone to more effort this Diwali if I'd had family or friends visiting! Maybe next year...
Recipe for: Maida "chips"
4 cups flour (2:2 AP and wholewheat, if desired)
Water to make dough
1 tbsp chilli powder (or to taste)
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder
1-1/2 tbsp butter
Salt to taste
10-15 curry leaves, chopped (optional)
Oil for frying
1. Put all the items (except the oil!) in a large bowl. Knead into a firm but elastic dough. Keep covered for 10 minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a large pan.
3. While it is heating, pinch off a tennis-ball sized piece from the dough. Roll it out into a thin circle. The thinner the circle, the crisper the chips will be.
4. Using a pizza cutter, cut the circle into strips.
5. Then cut it across again to make square or diamond shapes.
6. "Loosen" the chips using a thin-edged metal plate (or anything else that has a thin edge), being careful not to mush the pieces too much. Do not worry if the pieces seem to stick to each other - once they are in the oil, they will separate out.
7. Gather up the pieces on the plate and carefully slide into the hot oil. If there are any clumps, loosen them carefully with the spatula.
8. Fry the chips on medium heat, turning them over occasionally, until they are golden brown and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper. Store in an airtight tin and they will easily keep for two weeks and more (if you dont eat them all before that!).