Of the many fondest memories associated with the taste, sound and smell of my grandmother's kitchen, there is this beautiful image that always floats on top of my sea of memories......a picture of my mother and aunt sitting on the floor and kneading some dough and then rolling out on a small high table- chopping board and cutting them into diamond shapes......Pauly aunty’s daughter was also there to help them with some tips……the air around them was one of gaiety and happiness…….Like a sponge absorbing water, I sat there soaking in the spirits of cheerfulness and laughter with a tinge of curiosity in my eyes……and on the other end, my grandma fried those diamond cuts and drained ‘em on a palm tray, Muram, lined with paper and then rolled them in sugar syrup ... I vividly remember running to my grandma's dining room every now and then and opening her built-in-cupboard in search of those fried goodies......they were irresistible; till then I had never tasted something like that and I just couldn’t control myself from nibbling them...
As much I have adapted myself to the holiday spirits and tasty traditions of my temporarily adopted foster home, the more I stay away from my homeland, the more the yearning to go back to my roots and the desire to recreate the tastes of home. So this year as I heated the oven to bake cakes and cookies, I turned on the stove to fry up some crispy treats part of the Christmas traditions of Kerala. I made those diamond cuts, fried dough shaped into small diamonds, infused with the fragrance of cardamom and drenched with sweetness of sugar syrup. At my paternal home, according to my cousin, this snack is called as "Vettipori" or just "cuts".
Ingredients for Diamond Cuts:
- 2 cups All-purpose flour/Maida,sifted
- 2 1/2 tbsp beaten egg
- A generous pinch of salt
- Water to knead the dough (Little more than 1/2 cup)
- Seeds from 2 cardamoms, crushed
- Oil for deep frying
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tsp water
- Seeds of 1 cardamom crushed
- Mix all purpose flour, egg and salt; add water in small quantities and knead well until you get soft dough with smooth even surface. When the dough is almost coming together, sprinkle crushed cardamom. Once the dough is ready, cover it with a damp cloth and leave it on the kitchen counter for 15 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 4-5 balls and take one for rolling and let others remain under the damp cloth. Roll out the dough into thin rounds. Run your knife diagonally from left first and then cut diagonally from right , on the rolled out dough, to create diamond cuts/shapes.
- Heat oil and in low-medium heat, deep fry till the diamonds puffs up and edges begin to turn golden; remove and strain it on a paper towel.
- For making sugar syrup, heat sugar and water and let it boil and thicken to a consistency that will help coat the fried diamond cuts. You may drop some syrup on an aluminum sheet to see if it hardens. Keep swirling the pan occasionally while making syrup and you should not let the sugar syrup crystallize; just before coating the fried cuts, add the crushed cardamom to the syrup and coat the diamond cuts thoroughly in the syrup and then let them dry on a cookie sheet, lined with aluminum foil.
The alternative method for coating the diamond cuts with sugar syrup is to dust the fried cuts with confectioner’s sugar, infused with powdered cardamom. But let me state it clearly that dusting confectioner’s sugar is not an ideal substitute for coating with syrup as there is a world of difference in taste .
I’m sending a batch of this to Italian cookie lady, Susan who is releasing her II Season of EAT CHRISTMAS COOKIES.