I don’t think I would go for a job as a sjerpa in Nepal for the sake of these cookies alone. They cost me an enormous lot of work and frustration. I like to do things properly so decided to make the recipe in the most traditional way. First, I made my own ghee. Then I soaked rice for 3 days, refreshing the water daily. It was day 4 and I was finally ready for the real work. I dried the rice slightly and then tried to grind it. That was not an easy task! I think the rice saw the inside of all the electrical devices equipped with a knife and were subjected to a brutal treatment in my pestle and mortar. It was still quite coarse, so I passed the rice through a fine sieve. When I was more or less satisfied with the result I mixed all the ingredients together left it to rest for 4 hours. Then it was finally time to make the dough and form the cookies. The ghee was getting nice and hot in the wok and I triumphantly lowered 1 cookie in the fat. The result was a deception! The dough immediately fell apart and I was left with burnt crumbs. It tried different oil temperatures, different sizes and shapes, but to no avail. Finally I gave up. The second time I did not make my own ghee, but did soak the rice (a bit shorter- I admit- but I was backed up by several recipes). Now I used less sugar and ghee. The result was still a crumbling mess. The third time around I bought the ghee and the rice flour and tried out different proportions. Still no luck. I gave up and let the recipe rest for a couple of weeks. It was only this weekend that I finally found the courage to start again. And I have to say that I am reasonably happy with the result: a crunchy thin cookie with a nice touch of cardamom. But I still would not book a ticket to Nepal for this cookie. Anarsa used to be an offering for the gods and is usually eaten during Diwali. If you like these cookies, try my own variation of anarsa cookies with coriander and pistachio nuts.
for about 30 cookies
250 grams of rice flour
200 grams of icing sugar
1 tablespoon cardamom powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons ghee + extra for frying
6-7 tablespoons water
poppy seed for sprinkling
Mix the rice flour with the icing sugar, the cardamom powder, the lemon juice and the ghee.
Rub together into a crumbly mass and leave to rest covered for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Add 3 tablespoons of water and try to bring together in a ball.
Add extra water tablespoon by tablespoon if needed.
Form little balls of 10 grams of dough.
Press them flat between 2 layers of cling film and sprinkel with poppy seeds. Press again.
Heat the fat in the wok or pan. Don’t heat the ghee to a very high temperature, it should not smoke. Put 1 or more pieces of dough in the pan and fry until light brown. Do not turn the cookies but spoon hot fat over the top for even browning. Leave to drain on kitchen paper.
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