If there’s one Bollywood movie I can watch a hundred times besides Sholay, it is Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Do you remember the Karwa Chauth scene in which Raj finally gives Simran the first sip of water to break her fast? And as he feeds her her first morsel of the day, she learns that he has fasted with her too. It was such an “Awww” moment. Wasn’t it?

In true Bollywood style, Karwa Chauth in my house has always been celebrated with fervour. On the eve of the fast, my mom-in-law would come home with Sargi – a big basket of fruits, pheniya, boxes of mithai, coconut, a vanity case that contained Mehendi, sindhoor, bangles, bindis, lipstick, nail polish, red ribbon and a saree, neatly packed in a box. She was particular that she never repeat a colour, or the design of the saree be similar to the others that she had previously gifted. With squeals of excitement, I would open the box with a gleam in my eyes. In spite of all of this, I would search the table for Ma’s speciality – homemade ‘mathis’. An integral part of the sargi, Ma would make them herself – both sweet and namkeen. She knew her bahu’s weakness for this snack.

In the early hours of the morning on Karwa Chauth, before the first appearance of daylight, I would wake up to the aroma of food floating from the kitchen. Bhiru bhaiya, the khansaama of the family would make paneer bhurji, ghee soaked paranthas and pheniya simmering in hot milk. Ma would sit by my side, cutting fruits and gently cajoling me to eat just ‘one more parantha’. The feast would end with a cup of ‘adrak chai’ and meethi mathi… flaky, crispy and coated with sugar syrup. Not only on Karwa chauth, this snack is such a delight to have with tea on any day and can be had namkeen or sweet. Karwa Chauth was our special time. Ma’s and mine. She would pamper the ‘bahu’ who was about to start the ‘nirjala vrat‘ – A day without food and water. An ultimate expression of love by a woman for her husband, Karwa Chauth also strengthens the bond between a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law.

Ma is no more but each Karwa Chauth, I continue to celebrate the festival exactly the same way as she would have wanted me to. I always end my sargi with meethi mathi and my hot cup of ginger tea. It’s her recipe that I learnt. It reminds me that even though she isn’t physically present, she continues to live in my thoughts and in the rituals which she has handed over to me.

 

 

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Meethi Mathi/ Meethi Mathri
Meethi Mathri is an important sweet snack that is specially made during festivals. Golden brown, flaky and with a glossy coating of sugar syrup it is an ideal accompaniment during teatime. Mathri does not need any refrigeration. It can be stored in an airtight container for up-to 18-20 days.
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Mix maida, ghee and water to make a firm dough. The dough must not be soft else the mathris do not turn out flaky. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Take a small portion 1 inch in diameter of dough and roll it into a round ball. Press it with a rolling pin and spread to about 1/4" thickness and 5" in diameter.
  3. Prick the flat bread with a fork to make tiny holes on both sides. This avoids the flat bread to puff up like a puri and keeps them flat and crispy.
  4. While rolling out more of the dough in a similar manner, pour oil or ghee needed to fry the mathris in a kadhai and put on medium flame. It's important to note that the mathris must never be cooked on high flame since it will quickly cook the outside while leaving the inside of the mathri raw.
  5. Once the oil is hot, drop 3-4 pricked mathris in them at one time. Take care once again that the flame is always low to medium. It takes approximately 6-8 mins. for the mathris to turn golden brown both sides. Fry all the mathris.
  6. Take granulated sugar, cardamom powder, water in a pan and put on high flame. After a boil, reduce to low flame and cook till it reaches a two string consistency. This should take about 10 minutes.
  7. Drop the mathris into the sugar syrup, making sure they are soaked and completely covered on both sides.
  8. Place the mathris on a dish, making sure they are spaced out. This is done to avoid them from sticking to each other.
  9. Garnish with pistachio and almond slivers.
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