Mathris – Savoury Indian Cookies, wholewheat, baked recipe

Everyday I try and peruse at least five to ten different cuisines from around the world and increasingly I get the feeling that food from all parts of the world have so many similarities that the geographical boundaries just seem to melt away.

Take the Indian pulao – it has so many cousins world wide – Japanese Sushi, Chinese Fried Rice, Turkish Pilaf, Greek Rice Pilaf, Italian Risotto or Spanish Paella.  Despite the similarities I wonder, why is it that I sometimes have this mental block that I will never be able to replicate certain dishes. Does it happen with you too?  Much before 2009 began, I resolved to get over that hurdle.

Meeta just pre-poned my aim by announcing the theme for the Monthly Mingle No.28. When she announced traditional cookies, I immediately thought of ‘Shankarpalis/Shakkarpare’, and ‘Mathris/Matthis’ which are very Indian but the taste and process are very much like those of fried cookies.

Mathri or Matthis are crisp, flaky, buttery biscuits/cookies/crackers from the North Indian region of the Indian Subcontinent. The basic mathri is a blend of hot melted oil/ghee, salt and refined flour to which one can add a variety of spices such as ajwain(carom seeds), kalaunji (onion seeds), kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), shahjeera(caraway seeds) etc. My favourite flavour is either carom or fenugreek.

I have also tweaked the recipe slightly as I wanted a healthier batch of mathris, so instead of resorting to the traditional deep frying method, I baked the mathris using wheat flour instead of refined flour.

Unlike other cookies wherein we cut butter into the flour to form crumbs, mathris use hot oil/ghee to form a crumbly dough. The use of hot oil makes the mathris extremely crisp or ‘khasta’, and helps it preserve for long periods. I have been making mathris for years during Diwali or sometimes just so the kids have some healthy munchies when they feel short hunger pangs, but this is the first time that I have ever measured the ingredients – like most Indians I cook by ‘feel’ rather than ‘measure’. The thumb rule here is to not compromise on the fat, less use of water by sprinkling it over the dough rather than adding in spoonfuls, and to form a stiff dough, in order to get  flaky finish.

Mathri or Mathhi (Suali)
Yield: 20-25 mathris, measuring 1.5″ in diameter

Ingredients: (Increase spice levels to suit your taste)

2 cups – Whole wheat flour
Salt – To taste
Unsalted vegan butter spread/Vanaspati/Ghee or oil – (Melted and hot) – About 1/2 to 1 cup
(Do not use the entire quantity of oil at one go – add little by little, I used 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp – Kasuri Methi/Carom seeds/Nigella seeds
Hot water/Hot milk – 1/2 cup to sprinkle
Turmeric powder – a pinch (Optional)


Mix the flours, salt, kasuri methi and turmeric together in a wide bowl.

Add 1/2 cup hot oil in the center of the flour and incorporate the flour with a wooden spoon. It has to come to a point where you should be able to gather the flour into a tight mass when you squeeze it but will fall apart immediately when you leave it. You may add water/hot milk little by little by sprinkling to further the process till it comes to a ‘bread crumb’ consistency or add more oil if desired. I add hot water and incorporate the flour quickly with my hand. This though crunchy is not as flaky as when you add oil/ghee, but I prefer this any day!

Gather some of the dough – do not knead it –  just bring it together in your fist and press it tight between your palms.

Bake it as it is for a rustic feel, or place it on a board and cut into circles as I have done. Bake in a hot pre-heated oven on the top rack till the top and the bottom browns well. I did my baking at 200 deg. Cel., and changed positions twice in between for even browning – took me about 20 minutes. Depending on your oven, and the amount of fat used your timing may differ, so please check after every 10 minutes starting at 180 deg. Cel. I have used a higher temperature as my oven generally takes a longer time!

Stays well for at least a week if stored in a clean air tight container. The baked version tastes better than the deep fried one if you have storage plans!

1. You could substitute a little semolina flour in combination with wheat flour.
2. If you want it really flaky use only all purpose flour, and oil with just a sprinkling of water and deep fry. But then this is fattening!
3. Use any flavour you like in place of the fenugreek leaves or leave it bland – it still tastes great!

Baked Mathris
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Have your say

  1. I prefer spicy/savory cookies over sweet ones, cookies looks very tempting and the addition of methi leaves, adds nice aroma.

  2. Wowww looks great n gorgeous Cookies….

  3. yumm .. I love those cookies , I just love the savory ones .. they look soo perfect. & yes I too have this mental block that i wouldnt be able to replicate a certain dish ..

  4. yaar tumne tho bachpan yaad dila diya! I soooooooooooo love mathris – had the best tasting kind in Meerut. mathri aur aam ka achaar. I am definitely making this!!! for sure and I will bake it. and I hope you get that book – hamaare yahan bhi cookie wookie bantha hai!

  5. baked mathris,..nd they look so nice,..nd crisp nd warm,,perfect for the season,..;-)

  6. That is a good idea … baking them. They look so crispy.

  7. Ok so u posted it bang b4 i did and yeah u made them healthier way and hey u cut these in circles while i rolled them and yes u made them with wheat flour (i used maida )and u used hot ghee ,while i used ghee and luke warm water….so with all the similarities and differences too, we both enjoyed mathris with our kids isn’t it?
    Oops i almost gave the recipe here..should have saved it for my post he he he
    Mathris look lovely and if with wheat flour they taste good i will surely opt for these

  8. A savory cookie! I am sure to like this one, looks crispy and inviting 🙂

  9. Yes Madhu, kasuri methi rocks any recipe!

    Thanks, Priya!

    Deesha, I am so glad I am not alone in my apprehensions!

    Rajani, I know that is the plain one, isn’t it? Yeah! That tastes great with aam ka achaar with saunf and stuff! Aapke cookie ka intezaar hai hamein, aur woh carrot and almond mincemeat toh dil chura kar le gayee;)

    Yes, Priyanka, just perfect for winters!

    Sharmila, thanks:)

    Alka, that was so confusing! OK, I used hot vanaspati and wheat flour with hot water, and I am waiting for yours to come out – for sure I know thats going to be great! My son has a sweet tooth, he eats shakkar paare but not this one, esp. since I have used kasuri methi!

    Thanks, Gita!

  10. This was the first cookie I ever made and it was from Sunita’s blog, but I did’nt know that it had a name. I like your version also very much SM, I think she had used oil instead of ghee. Maybe that’s the reason it was not very crisp.

    I also think about the similarities in food from various continents. That’s amazing right!

  11. I love this cookies. Must be delicious with the spices in them.
    Should try them, bookmarking them.
    I think you should check meta’s place for rules, i remember she mention in her post, the cookies should be made exclusive for her.
    I might be wrong.

  12. Lovely mathris,Dearie and waiting for your version of ’12 delicacies’ in 2009.Never tried mathris.Thanks and good luck on your world tour :D:D -Yay,welcome to the club-I too love to replicate veg dishes around the world.

  13. Hey, HC, thank you for bringing that rule to my notice! I missed it and rectified by withdrawing the mathris from Susan’s event!

    Sweatha, I too am looking forward to keeping my word!

    Madhuram, I guess that might have been the reason!

  14. wow! the pictures are so good…cookies look awesome and I luved ur copyright info or should i call it a stamp…perfect…

  15. Mahimaa's kitchen

    same pinch.. check out my blog 🙂

    cookies are awesome as usual harini.

  16. Harini Please can i have those? The pics make it look as if they are at a hand’s reach. what a tease. Love mathris.

    I am baking all these breads, but love the spicy ones over the sweet anytime.

  17. Very cool idea of baking this rather than deep frying. The pictures look awesome (As always). I might try this pretty soon.

  18. lovely cookies! Beautiful pics. I never made spicy cookies before. YOu’re tempting me to try one!

  19. This cookie is probably for me 🙂 I love spice than sugar!

  20. You baked these?????!
    Good going! I’m not really a mathri fan but mostly at the though of the deep friedness of it. This I might just have to try.

  21. This is a new cookie to me–but I am so glad to have come across it! YUM!

  22. I make similar baked savory cookies with herbs and olive oil.I love the crumbly texture of the mathris and the healthy baked version sounds easy to try.

  23. Wow.. your on baking spree..First the Pizza’s and then these.. Looks good..I love the way you substitute with healthy ingredients with letting us know the difference it makes! Thanks Harini

  24. what interesting cookies!

  25. ooooo..they look absolutely i hear them calling me

  26. Lovely clicks and blog.. Found you in blogger aid..
    do check my blog..

  27. Wow, Yum. I love mathris. First time to your blog. You’ve got a lovely blog and it’s in my favorites now

  28. Sangeeth, thanks:)

    Mahimaa, same to you! I loved your baked muthiyas very much too!

    Soma, me too! I can have a bite of sweetness once in a day or two – cannot handle more than that, and most sweet bakes are for my kids only!

    RC,Uma, do try with your favourite flavors and let me know!

    Cham, I know you spice girl from all those comments you leave on the sweet things I make – yes! this one is something that you will love with your tea!

    Bharti, I love mathris but cannot take in the amount of fat, but these are so guilt free – I was happy to have two or three at a time!

    Cakespy, Welcome! I know these flavors must be completely new to but do give it a try – it is a good introduction to Indian savories!

    Yasmeen, that must be so Mediterranean! I would love to try it your way too!

    Uj, so glad that you liked and noticed that. Thank you!

    Jaime, welcome, and yes they are interesting and the kind that will have you hooked!

    Smitha, I heard them too:) They say grab me;)

    Sanghi & Rathna, thank you for visiting, and your lovely invites! Will check out your blogs right now!

  29. Wow yummy, crunchy and gr8 looking cookies. Keep rocking!

  30. looks delicious and yum!
    Join in the EFM – SAVOURIES SERIES going in my blog!

  31. Awesome work! The array looks fab’ inviting, never heard b’4 mathris tho’ must be great one….

  32. Hey ..u do have a great place..I made a few savoury cookies last eve too..with my

    It would be a delight if u cud stop by my (fairly new) lil place too. 🙂

  33. Its looks crunchy munchy….great one!

  34. looking great and crunchy, would like to have a bite.

  35. I’ve never tried making my own, but then my mom hasn’t either – we always buy the plain flour, deep fried version from a neighbourhood store. But this delicious looking healthy version is prompting me to take a plunge.

  36. Interesting spice mix in cookies… So interested in how this tastes!

  37. Loved the fact that you baked these and also made them with whole wheat flour, looks fantastic, will give this a try soon 🙂

  38. Its so nice to see svaoury matris for a change. These are my kind of food. And baking them helps keep the inches in check (mine anyways)!

    I know I have been guilty too, of baking sweet cookies, but I don’t eat them after the first taste, honest.:D

  39. Harini…I totally agree…”we go by the feel”…when I write out my post..I actually go back in the kitchen and imagine my self again cooking the same thing, this time with the
    Loved the mathris..n u know ur a dear friend.

  40. these look so good! Will try these. I trie making thse once , but they didn’t turn out so good. Yours look so good.
    About rice four replacement. As such you cannot replace them just like that unless you try to substitute for the gluten in the recipe. Will answer your querry in a detailed email soon.

  41. simply brilliant! i love savory cookies and i love the twist of baking. thank you for this great entry!

  42. I like the way you have provided multiple options for the fat and the spice! Nice!

  43. Lubna, with the weight on my hips increasing, I have to keep rocking in some time!

    Srilekha, thank you, I will but these cannot be entered as Meeta’s rule is that the item should not go to any other event!

    Malar, do try them, they are very tasty!

    Navita, your place may be new but it rocks!

    Nithya, Welcome and thank you so much:)

    Premy, thanks! I wish I could say “grab one” but I am not yet that technologically forward:)!

    Simran, I can understand that – esp. in a place like Punjab where food outside is as good as homemade why really go through much trouble – same as the way I purchase my pickles in Chennai rather than make!

    Jude, I guarantee they will have you asking for a second one!

    Usha, I hope you do try and enjoy them too!

    Aparna, how is it that most people bake and don’t eat much – Simran and I felt that it might be due to the overpowering flavors of sweet things!

    PG, thank you for the email answer to my query!

    Meeta, my pleasure and I thrilled that you think they are brilliant:)

    Dibs, thanks for noticing them – I hope to make it easy for the novice to understand how the dough should feel and offer possibilities that will interest the cook!

  44. Thank you sunshinemom for visiting 🙂
    yeah… these savory cookies are always good.. especially for the weather that I am having now… I checked out your version – yummy! will defnitely try them out…

  45. That last photo is especially tempting. You can see all the crumbly richness of them. Amazing that they are baked. You wouldn’t know it. Hope you are well!

  46. Those look amazing..i always used to eat those spicy cookies at bakeries.u brought all those memories back!:) i have added u to my blog roll:)

  47. These, Harini, are to die for.

  48. happy new year!

  49. Aaah, I could do with a plateful of these. They look delicious and I’m sure they’d pair well with the proverbial afternoon cuppa. I’m certainly making these soon and will let you know how they turned out.

  50. Hey, thanks a lot for this healthy and wonderful recipe, i tried it yesterday and they came out just fine.

  51. Thanks for the feedback, Prachi! Good to know that. 🙂

  52. My search for baking mathris recipe is over…..thank u…..just one question….. Without using baking powder will they be crispy and not hard

  53. Yes, it can get hard if overdone. You have to keep an eye on the baking, checking after 10 minutes.

    The hot oil/fat helps in making it crisp, but as I have already mentioned in the recipe – it does not come out flaky like matthri made with maida or deep fried.

    Please leave a feedback once you make it. Thanks.

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