Khara Biscuits & My Love-Hate Relationship with Sugar

Rosy as it may seem, my relationship with sugar like any other is flawed. Sweet yet oddly imperfect.
I hail from a family that is ravenous for sugar and the clan has rightly  realized that its absence will only add to the existing pandemonium. Hence, we give in to its captivity. Be it the amber hued jaggery syrup that is made specially for dosas to diligently mop up or those surreptitious, midnight thefts of of chocolate or those weekend dessert projects bustling in the kitchen, such as Holige( Sweet Rotis)  and the likes or that generous chunk of jaggery stirred into every single savory dish, we love “the sweet life” and life without it is imagined to be listless, dark and sullen. I finally have a reason for my foray into the cozy, hygge-ligt world of baking. It is that “sweet”gene rampant in my cells that yells and throws unbearable tantrums until I give in.
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Until a few years ago….
For a year almost in 2014-2015, I gave up on sugar. Completely. The first couple of weeks were every bit as cringe-worthy as was suspected. A world painted in color turned gray. I felt myself at sea most times, dubious about my decision. Every smile, I found, was peppered with a sad note. The romance that had me exuberant and invigorated had come to an end(albeit temporarily) and I was heartbroken.
The good news: it lasted only a week or two. Once I swam the rough waters, the calm was an unexpected surprise. The cravings bid adieu and to put it very bluntly, I lost interest. Those hardworking sugar-coveting tastebuds were probably happier in hibernation and my body was thrilled to bits with the ongoing  detox. And, gray didn’t seem like such a bad colour.  Might I add, I still reveled in the bliss of baking and very often. I just didn’t eat those treats, nor was I tempted to give in. The powers of the mind and body  are magical, I learnt.
Admittedly, there are days when I’ll be caught binging unstintingly on sweet treats but most days I resort to portion control or zero intake.
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These cookies are devised precisely for those days. They are called Khara(spicy in Kannada) Biscuits and since Iyengar Bakeries are non-existent in my part of the world, I resort to overworking my battered oven quite often.
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The recipe has been adapted from the wonderful Chitra Agarwal’s ‘Vibrant India‘, the book brimming with memories and food, redolent of good times from Bangalore, a common home between us. For me, the collection occupies a special place for reasons aplenty but some take priority:
– While the traditional Palyas , gojjus & Chitra-annas make their presence, some are twisted beautifully, and yet strongly rooted to tradition. Like her Apple Pie Kadabu’s, where apple pie fillings fragrant with autumnal spices substitutes the coconut filling that is traditionally opted.

– I always assume(with the risk of my imagination running wild), that recipes for Congress Kadlekai(spiced peanuts) and Khara biscuits ( both quintessentials in a Bangalore Iyengar Bakery) lie scribbled in some old, tattered pages, cloistered into a crevice of the bakery’s walls. Lucky that the author includes recipes for these as well. Many miles away, my kitchen is alive with the scents of the streets of Bangalore.

-And finally, despite having grown up and well acquainted with a gamut of dishes from the book, it is the aura of Bangalore that it drapes so well, the manner it magically mirrors the culinary saga of my elders that, coerces me into lending this treasure trove of flavour-bound recipes a place in my kitchen nook.

The cookies you see here are bite sized and slightly softer unlike the original crispy variant, equally delicious nonetheless. They are richly fragrant with Mint, Curry Leaves and Lime leaves. They are heavily laden with nostalgic memories from Bangalore & a sharp, tangy cheddar cheese. I do hope you like this one!
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{Before we move on the recipe, I just want to add that I’m no health expert and my desire/disinterest in sugar is purely my personal choice. I do not suggest in any way that this recipe is a “health/healthy food” OR Diabetic friendly.}

RECIPE FOR CHEDDAR & HERB SHORTBREAD COOKIES (KHARA BISCUITS)
(Adapted from Chitra Agarwal’s, Vibrant India’)

INGREDIENTS
1/4 th cup unsalted butter(at room temperature)

1.5 tsp sugar
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
1 green chilli, finely chopped
10-12 curry leaves, finely chopped
1-2 dried lime leaves, finely chopped(optional)
1/4 cup mint leaves,finely chopped
1 cup all purpose flour/sifted whole wheat flour
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Method
– In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar by hand. Add the salt, herbs, green chillies and yogurt and mix.

– Then add the flour, grated cheddar and milk. Very gently bring all the ingredients together into a dough.
– Roll this into a log and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for an hour.
– In the meantime, preheat oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
– Slice the dough into 1/4 inch thick slices and arrange them on the cookie sheet.
– Bake for around 18-22 minutes and cool completely.
Notes:
1) The author has included coriander leaves in these shortbread cookies which also lend a wonderful flavour.

27 thoughts on “Khara Biscuits & My Love-Hate Relationship with Sugar

  1. Wow Divya, I will try this for sure. It is my kind of recipe and since I do not have a sweet tooth at all..I guess I will like this. More so, my mom loves the khara biscuits…the “Iyengar bakery” ones, so I hope they come out well. I have never baked biscuits before….will keep you posted:) Wonderful narration as always!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Rashmi! Please do try, I hope that you & your mom like it as much as we did:) It is a bit softer than the original Khara biscuit in bakeries, but still delicious. Thank you for reading😊❤️

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  2. Hey Divya, so good to read your post after a looooong hiatus 😁. Hats off to you for staying off sweets for an year!!! Though I don’t have a great sweet tooth, quite difficult for me to stay away from them.
    Will definitely try out this biscuit. Can I substitute whole wheat flour for maida?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Radhika! Oh I have a very sweet tooth that’s why it was so scary for me to even venture into something like this! Actually I haven’t tried it but let me within the next few days & keep you posted. Is that alright?

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  3. Oooh! These cookies look so incredibly delicious!!!!! You are and always will be my baking queen, Divya! 😄👑
    And wow for having gone through with the sugary abstinence! I shudder just at the thought of it although deep down I know that it’s a good thing to do. Maybe not abstaining completely from it but to regulate the flow can’t be wrong. And what a lovely coincidence that our posts kind of overlap! Great minds think alike! 😄
    I will definitely try out your lovely recipe! 😋
    Many hugs! xxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re so kind Sarah! Thank you, I’m humbled🙏🏻 By the way, I’m more than happy to swap these for your raspberry scones😊
      You’re absolutely right, Balance is the key I think. That’s what I opt for now:)
      Haha exactly, I was smiling as I read your post☺️ Do try it & hope you like it as much as we did:)
      Much love to you😘

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can smell the yeast, sugar and spices of Iyengar Bakery right here, Divya. I have tasted those crispy delights from the one of the many Iyengar bakeries and this time I tasted a spiced cake too (apparently another creation exclusive to the Iyengar Bakery chain). Your kaara biscuits looks bite-sized and absolutely yummy. Did you feel the honking of the bikes and BMTC buses and did you smell the yeast, sugar and spices as you reminisced that wonderful creation.
    Loved your little tale and loved that biscuit and all the memories it brought forth too.
    Thank you for the recipe, will give it a try for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. These biscuits sound divine! My mother loves Jeera biscuits from a local bakery..And she likes all kinds of savory biscuits..I am sure she will love these too :). The way you write and take pictures of your creations is so mesmerizing.. I am always delighted with your instagram posts too..Because they are so different and fresh! Much love!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Deepika! So glad you liked it and many thanks for the love and appreciation. I do hope your mom likes them:) They tend to a bit softer than the original ones but delicious nonetheless.
      Thank you once again for taking the time, means so much 🙂
      P.S. That is the only reason I’m using my bracelets ;),haha:)

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  6. The bite sized khara biscuits looks so pretty and incredibly delicious. Loved the addition of cheddar cheese. We are a family with sweet tooth, can totally relate to what you are saying. There were days when halwa was made late in the night after dinner and polished off in no time :).. Cant wait to try this recipe. The ingredients brought back memories of the aroma in Iyengar Bakery. As always wonderful writeup and fantastic pics..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry about the late response…Thank you for taking the time to read Neetha! ❤️, means a lot! Haha yes I can relate to halwa nights as well:) My grandma used to make sajjige almost every weekend. Do try it, it’s very simple & yummy:) Thanks once again
      Hugs xx

      Liked by 1 person

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