My grandmother is the best cook I know. From the bits and pieces that I do know about her childhood, it wasn’t very easy for her growing up. Like a lot of women back then, especially as the oldest daughter, she dropped out of school at a very early age to take care of her family. I suppose since I’m aware of the various opportunities that do exist out there now, I’m surprised she doesn’t seem at all bitter or regretful about this. It’s just how things were. She married my grandfather and they opened a small grocery shop back in the home country where they would sell her homemade snacks and treats – my mother and her sisters would wake up early to help her prep before going to school.
Her “bestseller” was a manioc/cassava pudding, which she still makes from time to time. Her recent favourite though, for the past few years, has been her version of this delightfully sweet Indian pudding using semolina. It’s incredibly aromatic, using cardamom, almonds and cinnamon. While it can just be eaten as in with some warm milk, she usually rolls the pudding into small balls and tops them with shaved coconuts. We traditionally eat them in the morning for breakfast, heated in the microwave. These Eggless Almond Cardamom Cookies aren’t quite the same, but the flavours and smell are almost identical, especially while they’re baking.
They’re perfect for tea and not overly sweet if you cut down on the sugar. The original recipe asked for whole wheat flour, but I went with a combo of white and whole wheat. I also accidentally used less butter than asked for (1/4 cup less…), which ended working out well. I suppose if you use the entire 3/4 cup than just 1/2 of butter, they’ll end up being more like a shortbread.
1 cup of all purpose flour + 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds*
3/4 tsp green cardamom seed coarsely powdered
1/2 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
About 2-3 tablespoons of milk (only if you need it)
Mix flour, sugar, almonds and cardamom in a bowl.
Add softened butter to the flour mixture and mix until the dough becomes soft and crumbly. Gradually add in the milk until the dough sticks together and is easy to shape. If you’ve added too much milk and you find that the dough is too wet, just add in some more flour a little bit at a time until it is the right consistency.
Shape the dough into 30 little balls and place on parchment or ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten the dough ball a bit and top the unbaked cookies with an almond for decoration.
Bake in a 360F pre-heated oven for 18 minutes or until they are a light golden brown. Once they’ve browned, take the cookies out of the oven and let them cool down for a minute or two before taking them off the cookie sheet to a cooling rack.
*For the almonds, I roasted them in a pan for about 3 minutes before chopping and lightly grinding them to get a mix of coarse and ground almonds.