Thekua from Jharkhand
Jharkhand is one of the eastern states of India that was carved out of Bihar. It shares a border with Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal and off course Bihar. Jharkhand means land of forests and 28 % of the population is tribal. Cuisine of Jharkhand is both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. This cuisine uses little oil and few spices. The food from this state is similar to that of Bihar and also consists of food prepared with different types of flowers such as flowers of drumsticks and also uses different green leaves.
Mushrooms are available abundantly during rainy season in the forests and also in remote villages. These mushrooms are called Khukhdi or Chhatu in local language and given different names depending on where it is grown. When in season, mushrooms are dried and stored, and is used in dry form without spices or with spicy curries.
Another ingredient common in this cuisine is Rugda. It is naturally grown and is a seasonal vegetable available only at the beginning of the monsoon season. These are small round balls with hard shell and soft inside. It is cooked into a curry with spices and lots of onion, and is considered a delicacy. Here is a picture of rugda and the curry.
Some of the common food from this state are Litti Chokha, variety of rice and roties, pitha, dhusk and maad jhor are a few to name. Dhuska is a just like poori, deep fried in oil but is made of rice and lentils. Rice and lentils are soaked, ground into paste and the batter is poured into the oil and deep fried. It is served with a curry. Check out the recipe here and Vaishali also has a recipe on her blog.
Maad Jhor is prepared by cooking leafy vegetables in rice starch (the water in which rice is cooked) and is tempered with fried garlic in mustard oil. Just like in eastern and some of the north eastern states, most of the food is cooked in mustard oil.
Thekua is another traditional sweet dish from Bihar and Jharkhand, and is prepared on Chhath puja as an offering to Sun God. It is prepared with whole wheat flour and sugar or jaggery. I found a few recipes that used maida or all-purpose flour. A mould called saancha is used to make an imprint on the thekua. Thekua is nothing but a deep fried Indian Cookie.
Of all the recipes I prepared for the BM, thekua is one recipe that gave me a tough time. I prepared it 5 times, first time I messed up, the next two tries failed and finally the fourth try worked. Unfortunately, I was not satisfied with the pictures and ended up making it for the fifth time, just to take some pictures! But it so turned out that this food just loves to irritate me! At the end of the day, I did not like the pictures that took when I made them for the fifth time! Pictures are decent enough to put up on the blog and I gave up on it! Well, you might ask how it tasted.
First Try – The first time I made it, I used jaggery and used more water than required to melt the syrup. I ended up using only quarter of the syrup to make the dough and my thekuas we not sweet at all.
Second Try – I melted the jaggery in warm milk with just the required amount of liquid required to knead the dough. The result was as soon as I put the thekua in oil, it fell apart and had a thekua crumble.
Third Try – I melted the jaggery in water and my first two thekua turned out ok and then all hell broke loose. I again ended up with dough crumbles. By then husband came into the kitchen, tasted it and said it tastes okay, nothing great and anything with sugar tastes fine. He eat the two thekuas that held their shape and also the crumble. Since the thekua was falling apart, I stopped frying the rest. But husband wanted more of it so deep fried rest of the thekuas, which turned into thekua crumbles and he finished off all of it.
Fourth Try – I gave up on jaggery and used powdered sugar. This time they turned out fine and tasted good too. I was not happy with the pictures and made them again. The first picture is from the fourth try and that picture looks better then the other two I took the last time made them.
Fifth Try – Husband came home early, went into the kitchen, tasted and asked what those were? and liked them.
I: (from the living room) don’t touch it. I have not taken my pictures yet. Why did you come home early? Had you told me you would be home early, I would have finished my photo shoot before you got home.
He (comes into the living room with handful of thekuas): Sorry Ush, I can’t help you here. These are good and you will have to make them again for your pictures!
I: At the same time I was happy he liked them.
I was just happy that he left a few for me and I could take some pictures.
Total Time: 32 – 40 minutes
Preparation Time: 20 – 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 12 minutes
Yields: 16 – 18
- 150 grams or 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 2 tbsp. Sooji or Cream of Wheat
- 1 tbsp. chopped Coconut
- 1 tbsp. Blanched Almonds chopped
- ½ cup or 100 grams Granulated Sugar
- ¼ – 1/3 tsp. Cardamom Seeds
- 1 – 1 ½ tbsp. of Butter (I used a little over 1 tbsp.)
- 1/6 – ¼ cup Milk or Water (I used milk and I used little less than ¼ cup.)
- Bring butter to room temperature. Can leave it on the counter top for couple of hours or microwave it for 20 seconds.
- Grind sugar and cardamom seeds to a powder.
- Chop coconut and almonds.
- Mix together flour, sooji, sugar, coconut, almonds, butter.
- Gradually add water or milk to form dough. My dough was not very stiff but not very soft either. It was a more towards soft side.
- Let the dough rest of at least 10 minutes.
- Divided the dough into 2 equal parts and make two balls.
- Take each part and roll it out into a circle. Do not worry about the shape of the circle and also do not apply too much pressure when rolling out the dough. If necessary, apply some oil to the rolling pin to avoid the dough sticking to the pin. Cut each circle it into desired shapes using a cookie cutter or a biscuit cutter.
- Gather all the scrapes and roll it out and cut into more shapes. OR make small balls, press each ball on the palm of the hands using fingers or press it between two palms to make circles/discs. I did latter with the left of scrapes of dough.
- With a back of a fork, press each thekua to form a pattern. I made the patterns only on hand pressed thekuas.
- Heat some oil in a skillet or a pan to deep frying the thekua. When the oil is hot, slowly drop thekuas into the pan and fry on medium heat. Turn them once or twice to evenly fry the thekua. Depending on how thick the thekua is and how hot the oil is, it would take 1 ½ – 3 minutes. Do remember that thekua become a shade darker after cooling. I kept changing the flame of the burner from medium to med-low and vice versa to maintain even temperature throughout the frying process.
- If the dough becomes too soft, add more flour. The last time I made the thekua, I added almost ¼ cup of milk and the dough was too soft. I added additional 1 ½ tbsp. of flour.