Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Baked Phoren Thekua on Halloween

Immigrant mothers in a different country amidst a different culture have it hard, they are a confused lot. They are most confused around festival time. They do not know which to celebrate, which to shun, which one to just participate and which one to immerse one selves in.

There is the stuff that she has grown up with, the ones that gave her immense joy, she wants to be bonded with her children through them. She wants to share with her daughter the same thread of excitement that she once did with her own Mother over scouring and then lighting brass lamps for diwali.

But then she doesn't want to completely let go off the new festivals in the new country either. She has grown to like Halloween, the way it ushers in fall, the bright orange color of the pumpkin bringing warmth on an otherwise cold porch. She likes that it stretches her Indian festival month by a few more days, that there is something to look forward to even after the Diwali lamps have died out and Bhai Phota sweets are forgotten. And yet her thrifty logical mind does not acquiesce to spend so much money on flimsy "made in china" costumes that lose their utility beyond one single day.

After 3 years of worthless but pretty Halloween costumes, she wants to give them a miss this year. "What about being an Indian princess ?" she asks her daughter. The daughter who had fallen in this trap 3 years back is still gullible. The little girl is excited at the prospect of wearing the Anarkali churidar her aunt has sent from India for her upcoming birthday. "I will get you a crown and some jewellery and you will look like a real princess", the Mom tells her. The daughter is happy, it doesn't matter, she doesn't like spooky yet and "Halloween Express" eludes her.

Later the mother asks, "Which festival do you like best", secretly hoping for the answer to be Durga Pujo. "Halloween" she hears, "because it means lots of candies" continues the little voice. The choice has been made or maybe not.

What the future holds, we shall see. Till then there was a princess, a frog turned into last-minute flower and two un-carved pumpkins on the porch.

My Ma was not confused. Though she brought us up in a different culture, same country, she only followed what she was comfortable with. She didn't go hyper and try to do everything. We participated in the new, on the fringe and that was it.

So though we were invited for Chhath Puja, we never did it at home. We were at banks of the river Ganges observing the devotees and enjoying the rituals without feeling the stress ourselves. All the Thekuas that we loved, we had in our neighbor's home. We maintained a silent respect for all our neighbors who followed stringent rules in sanctity to make Thekuas for the Puja and never tried to re-create them at home.

I don't know why I wanted to have Thekua after all these years and went going back and forth this post & this. Too much ghee, can't do it, I reasoned. Then I saw Sharmila's Cookies and something went *Ping* in my brain. Why the thekuas were almost similar like her cookies with little differences. So I made them, no ghee, dry fruits and raisins within, spiced up by few fennel seeds and then baked, no frying. We loved them, earthy, lightly sweet, they reminded you of the soil, of your beginnings. Fried they would have been better.

I am not sure if those one time neighbors would have approved. Maybe they would say "Ee to phoren ka thekua hai"(This is a foreign thekua). You can call them whole wheat cookies if you wish.


Thekua or Whole Wheat Cookies

Makes about 10-12 thekuas
Measurements are eyeballed

In a bowl mix with your fingers 1 cup of whole wheat flour, 1-2 tbsp of Oil/Ghee, a pinch of baking powder, 5-6 tbsp of agave nectar/honey, some fennel seeds, 1/4 tsp of ground cardamom powder. Note: If you want replace honey/agave nectar with sugar or jaggery. Also adjust the measures according to your sweet level.

Add some chopped raisins/cranberry/dried apricot.

Gradually pour approx. 1/2 cup of milk and work the flour with your hands to make a dough like the chapati dough. Adjust the milk accordingly. The dough should be stiff and not stick to your fingers.

Pat the dough with your hands in a flat thick-ish circle. Cut out circles with a cookie cutter or with a bottle lid. You need to imprint them using a mold, I had none so they remained plain.

Put them on a greased baking tray. Brush them with some oil/ghee.

Bake at 375F for 25-30 mins till they are nicely browned. These were my toaster oven settings, so the time may vary. Alternately deep fry them in aromatic ghee.

Cool on the rack and store in an air tight container.

If they are not enough sweet, sprinkle some sugar on them.


  1. the immigrant here nor there but these cookies they have made a tasty identity their own.

  2. I feel your words. It is confusing, isn't it?

  3. haha If Diwali means lots of sweets certainly for our kids halloween is much anticipated one for candy.
    Sandeepa that is why we should have a gal who sure love to be princess! My son turned into a cop and I bought for full price !
    After all I like the wheat cookie!

  4. Hi,

    Even though it is a little late to comment, but I saw your durga pujo pics- isn't this the bharat sevasram pujo in Kendall park, NJ?

    I go there every year :-)
    Wish I knew before, tahole dekha hoto

  5. Tumi barite Thekua baniyecho!! ei word tai kotodin pore shunlam.. I never craved it, but now from so far away, I feel like having them. amader bari r kachey kichu Bihar i ra thakto - they would make and give them out!

  6. Indo

    Ahhh, the immigrant too shall make an identity, it will only take time :)

    Ummm, but also fun & loads of extra work;-)

    Ok dear, go for it, a girl I mean :-)



    Tumi D er moton bolcho, bole ki protyekbar goala ra naki thekua diye jeto !!! Thekua actually khub i simple jinish, choto belay mone hoto na jani ki. Tobe ghee ta dile better hoto

  7. Have never heard of thekuas but have heard of chatth puja, thanks to our politicians. Nice post.

  8. I've always been very intrigued about this thing called thekua .. ar amar cookies gulo ke thekua bolte parbo jene bhalo laglo. ;-)
    Jokes apart ... ami onek blogs e dekhechi salty thekua .. amar nijer kono idea nei etar bishoye. Aro confused thaki karon Oriya te thekua rabbit ke bole LOL.

  9. I can see this happening to me in a few years when my son grows up!
    I have tasted something like this from a Bihari friend.
    Ur's look super and sound easy to make too. Will try.

  10. Well i can totally relate to this post too.
    Yeah i remember my daughter who liked to be indian princess when she was little for her shool days. Ofcourse which was easy for this indian mom too :-)

  11. Sandeepa, your post reminds me of a novel of a desi family. The mom would have similar kind of oscillations but finally settling it in your way. I am sure elder S would start missing the knowledge of her roots atleast in her teen age. Till then you need to keep a balance on both festivals atleast to preserve the light for her sight. The simple cookies are sure would be tasty too. I am imagining how much ghee would it suck if fried ;)

  12. Sandeepa,
    confusing hoye ..which one to relate ....we didnt celebrated halloween ...but whenevr used to pass any shopping mall/grocery daughter would ask questions about those spooky things...I think balance korle bhalo hoye :)tobe eto easy noye jani...thekua kotodin khayi ni ..amader neighbourhood e thakto kicho Bihari ra ...amader ke diye jeto "chatpuja" te..
    this version looks much more healthy
    hugs and smiles

  13. living in a different land is quite an experience. I wonder what is more difficult. To get charged about the customs of your new land? Or to forget your own? And I am only at the other end of the same country unlike you.

    From whatever I remember my dad was strongly into Bengali festivals like durga pujo and annoprashon and Saraswati Pujo. And into Christmas as well in UK in the seventies. I'll try to link a post on something similar which I wrote last weekend in Calcutta

  14. sorry couldn't manage the linking thing so here it is

  15. Thekua ami ek ek jaigai ek ek rakam er kheyechi, so am a little confused with this whole wheat cookie :). But, I'm sure I have never had a thekua straight from the oven.

  16. You are really true. Luckily my son is not so found of halloween or goddies :) .

    BTW I loved your masala sprite and Bhai Phota's write up. I forgot my password and it took me 1 week to remember:D

  17. Thekua sei kabe kheyechi. amader barite je goala dudh dito se amader bhaibonke khub bhalobasto aar chatpujoy thekua die jeto. amra besh kadin dhore kheta. tomar recipe ta as usual khub healthy.

  18. Heheee Sandeepa, D thik i bolachey;-) ekhon amar monay porchey ora goyala chilo, or whatever they were, they kept cows!!! and had rope khatiya which i would love and whenever i saw them i wanted to sit in them, never did ;-(

  19. baked thekua looks so yum,..;-)advays luvs fried one,..;-)

  20. These seem yummy. I love thekua but have never made them. Must try your baked version.

  21. Never heard of thekua before, so I'll call them whole wheat cooies! LOL
    You don't need to be in "phoren" for the confusion. My daughter is growing up in India, and she's gone through Santa and presents at Xmas, the tooth fairy and now feels bad that we don't celebrate Halloween here! :)

  22. I was smiling through the entire post.Phoren mums are indeed a confused lot . Loved the thekuas; haven't heard of them before, but liked the fact that you baked them :-)

  23. May be you can use this the next time you want to eat thekua.. though this uses refined flour instead of aata and is called khajoor by some people, I call it thekua though.

  24. Try this:
    I agree the thekua takes in a lot of ghee and frying but u just cant beat the taste. May be you can use this the next time you want to eat thekua..this uses refined flour instead of aata and is called khajoor by some people, would try and post the aata version soon

  25. wow thekua that too not deep fried! man i have to try this!! I love thekua.. will try using jaggery instead of sugar..yest i baked bread rolls, they turned out pretty good, plus no guilt of eating deep fried stuff too :)

  26. Looks so tasty! I know a recipe very similar to this but this includes yucca with meat and it's delicious too.

  27. typical xenophobic bengali.anyways i liked the thekua recipe. still wld like to know where do bongs go where they die.Banagali der jonno ki Bongo swarg/norok aache ? Hope u bongs get out of the Kopashya mandooka mentality & behave more like humans


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