Know how to make Thekua that fills the heart with warmth
Thekua is a special delicacy that hails all the way from Bihar. It is specially made as prasad during Chhath Puja, a festival celebrated distinctively in Bihar and other Eastern states of India.
For us Biharis, Thekua is not just a delicacy or mere a sweet; it is more than a savory that binds us to our roots.
I remember watching Amma sitting down with gas stove for hours and making those crispy brown thekuas. She would make kilos of it! The aroma of dough mixed with freshly grounded cardamom and coconut would fill up the whole house. I remember how comforting it was to watch her making the patterns on the dough balls using the wooden stencil. And then the process of frying them in pure ghee would elevate the festive mood which is certain to stay throughout the 4-day festival.
Growing up thekuas has become an important part. Well, a mention of those golden brown savories is a must and why not? They play an important role during my boarding days. ‘Is that only?’, I asked Amma, looking at those Marie Gold biscuit packets in the tuck tin.
I would not have to explain to you what a tuck-tin is if you been to a boarding school, but for the rest of the world, it is a special box obviously made of tin and tucked in with foodstuffs that you carry from home to the school.
My tuck tin box would always comprise of the same pieces of stuff. One fourth would be filled with the tasteless packets of Marie Gold biscuits, another one-fourth with peanut and gram nut packets which I’m not fond of and the rest of the box would be filled with Thekuas, bundled in a pack of fives.
While others dig out their cream filled biscuits or made the racketing sound of chips packet, I would look down to my tuck tin where all I find was Thekuas. The whiff of the golden brown Thekuas would not only fill my nostrils but the entire dormitory room. People flocked around me to have those deep fried cookies which I barely find it relishing. But the joy of sharing is something that one cannot put into words. Even today, Amma’s thekuas spreads the magic in my office.
Within minutes the box would be empty with some crumbles left. I picked a crumble and slipped it into my mouth, it melted!
‘Thank you’, I called Amma that evening.
“For what?” she asked surprisingly.
‘Did your friends liked the Thekua?’, the question had been asked in all those several years.
‘Yes, they did.’, and my eyes blurred.
Chhath Puja is pious and also one of the most ancient Hindu festivals celebrated. The Puja finds its references in Rig Veda too. The festival holds many references from ancient times, especially Mahabharatha.
One of the legend to be believed is, Duryodhan crowned his friend Karn as the king of Anga Desh which is famously known as ‘Bhagalpur’ at present. Karn is the son of Kunti and Sun God was a true devotee of Sun. He would religiously dip half body in water and worship Sun God. He would offer special puja on the sixth and seventh day, from where ‘Chatth’ (sixth day) the name has been derived. Inspired by the devotion of their King towards the Sun God, the fellow men of the state too followed worshipping the Sun. The ritual spread across the land and is famously celebrated as Chatth Puja now.
The rituals of this festival are proven scientific and environmental friendly. The festival is not only restricted to eastern states of India but is gaining popularity across India. The festival is not limited to India alone and is celebrated in countries like Nepal, Mauritius, Fiji in their own tradition and custom. You would not be surprised to read the tradition of worshipping Sun God prevalent in Egyptian and Babylonian civilization too.
On the last day, where the devotees worship the rising sun, we would wait for the Puja to be finished early only to get the prasad. The first bite of that sweet itself gives you the feel of taking a dip into the Ganges.
Thekua can be prepared around the year, but its true taste is elevated only when it is offered as prasad and one does not mind waiting the whole year to indulge in the spirituality of the taste.
You can make them too! My mom’s recipe goes something like this:
Preparation Time: 20m
Cooking Time: 20m
Serves: 4 persons
- 1/2 cup(s) oil/Ghee
- 1/2 teaspoon(s) cardamom powder
- 1/2 cup(s) desiccated coconut
- 1 cup(s) hot water
- 400 grams jaggery (grated) or sugar
- 500 grams whole wheat flour
- First, add the jaggery/sugar to water, heat it and let it dissolve.
- Once dissolves, allow it to cool.
- Take wheat flour in a large bowl. Sprinkle desiccated coconut and cardamom, a little oil and mix it properly.
- Add the jaggery/sugar mixture into the kneaded dough.
- Divide the dough into 5 portions.
- Gives longitudinal shapes.
- Smooth them by rolling it on a plain surface.
- Cut each cylinder into thick slices.
- Now give proper shapes using a wooden stencil or by using your hand and make it similar to mini puris giving them elongated shapes.
- Heat the ghee and allow one thekua at a time in the wok.
- Deep fry till it turns golden brown.
- Drain the excess oil, allow it cool and serve.
- One can also keep it in airtight containers for longer use.
**One can buy Thekuas online from Thekua.in or Placeoforigin
Today, when I sit in office and Puja being around the corner just a mention of this sweet fills my nostril with its divine aroma. I just can’t wait to reach home for the festival and Amma giving us prasad- the Thekuas.
For Biharis like me, let’s not shy away sharing this special savory. Every region has its own flavor and we have this divine taste to be shared to the world.
And for everyone, next time if you happen to be in Bihar during the festival or if you have a friend coming back from the festival do ask him for the Thekuas. Every mother would be happy to send you an extra bundle in a pack of fives.