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Biscuits with a bite: savoury butter biscuits

2016 May 31
by Shalini

This scenario plays out all too often. Shuffling along in the lineup for a cup of coffee or tea, I can feel a steadily rising sense of panic as my turn at the counter approaches. I’d really like a little something to snack on, but I can’t decide what. The display case looms, and my mind skips long like Goldilocks, looking for that “just right” bite.


One of those giant muffins? No. A scone? Cake? Doughnut? No, no, no. Those cookies are all too big and sugary. The sandwiches look good. But I’ve eaten lunch so I don’t need one just now. Everyone else seems to know what they want. This is moving along too quickly. Fruit? Muesli bar ? My turn to order…Aaaargh!

One tea please. Yes, that”ll be all.


And that’s the moment when I know what I really want –  a biscuit with a bit of a bite. A khara* biscuit, actually.

When buying biscuits in bakeries in India, you usually have several savoury options to choose from.

There are plain sweet and salt butter biscuits, and ones flavoured with cumin, or carom. But my favourite by far are the khara biscuits sold in Bangalore’s Iyengar bakeries. Savoury, with a hint of sweetness, fragrant with curry leaves and coriander, and speckled with hot spots of fresh green chilli that bite back when you bite in – they’re sheer genius!

Butter be good Yogurt for me Dough glow

Fortunately, they’re also incredibly easy to make. Use this basic recipe and mix up any spice combinations you like – the possibilities are endless!

Now if I can just remember to keep a few handy in my purse at all times…

A recurring motif

Savoury butter biscuits

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g salted butter (if using unsalted butter, add 1/2 tsp salt)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp yogurt
  • 2 green chillis (or to taste) sliced into thin rings
  • 7-8 curry leaves, finely shredded
  • A handful of coriander, leaves only. (Don’t chop them, just separate the leaves from the stems.)

Cool spice Sunshine in a biscuit Low and slow

Sift the dry ingredients together, then add the chillis, curry leaves, coriander and butter. Rub the butter into the flour until it’s evenly distributed. Add the yogurt and bring the mixture together into a dough.Try not to work the dough too much.

Cover the dough with cling wrap or a damp cloth and chill it for 15 minutes in the fridge.

Roll out the dough to 1/4″ thickness and cut out your biscuits. Mark them with a fork if you like. (Or a turmeric stamp like mine!)

Bake in a slow oven (300 F) for 25-30 minutes. Or until done. Don’t allow the biscuits to colour. (The bottoms will develop a pale golden shade.)

Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 24 biting back biscuits (using a 2-inch cookie cutter).

Pale and interesting

*Khara, or savoury, biscuits are a specialty of Iyengar bakeries in Karnataka. Read about the origins of this unique baking tradition here.

4 Responses leave one →
  1. June 2, 2016

    This recipe sounds great Shalini. How do you get the turmeric colored design on the midlde of the cookie?

  2. jyoti permalink
    June 3, 2016

    These look just scrumptious , will try soon and let you know

    • June 4, 2016

      Thank you, Jyoti! Please do try. No need to brave the downpours in search of a perfect rainy day tea time biscuit -this one fits the bill!

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