From Bangalore, India to Brooklyn, New York, culinary instructor and cookbook author Chitra Agrawal brings fresh Indian flavors to American homes everywhere. Her latest collection, Vibrant India, is filled with modern takes on classic preparations and techniques, and is a great guide to livening up your repertoire of global cuisine. These green chile and cheddar shortbread biscuits are a rich, spicy treat.
Masala biscuits, sometimes called khara biscuits, are another treat that we’d get at Iyengar bakeries. They are fashioned after British biscuits, which are more like thick crackers, similar in shape and texture to a savory shortbread.
We had received a parcel of local Wisconsin cheeses when I concocted this recipe. It’s a perfect mix of tangy Cheddar and yogurt, herby curry leaves, cilantro, and spicy green chiles. The best part is that you can mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl by hand, without using a mixer or food processor. Because of my tiny New York kitchen, I’m a big advocate of cutting down on vessels when I can.
Feel free to substitute other herbs for the curry leaves in this recipe. These are the type of snack we’d devour with hot filter coffee in the afternoons at my grandmother’s house.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 or 2 Indian green chiles or serrano chiles, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- 10 fresh curry leaves, chopped
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- fleur de sel, for sprinkling (optional)
For the shortbread
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together by hand. Mix in the yogurt until well combined. Mix in the salt, green chiles, cilantro, and curry leaves. Mix in the flour and Cheddar until well blended.
Start gathering the ingredients together with your hands until you form a dough. It will feel quite loose in the beginning, but will firm up within a minute of kneading the ingredients together with your palms. Handle the dough as little as possible after you have brought it together.
Roll the dough into a cylinder with a diameter of 1 1⁄2 inches. Wrap it in clear plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a rimmed baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
When ready to bake, cut 1⁄4-inch-thick disks from the dough cylinder. Place the disks on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. The shortbread should be browned on the bottom and have golden spots from the Cheddar on top.
Sprinkle with fleur de sel, if desired. Serve warm.
The biscuits can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.