My memories of Ma'mouls are of MJK Kaka returning from one of his Middle East trips loaded with lots of unusual eatables and video tapes of all those Hindi movie songs. Though now I cringe at the thought of those videos and prefer to stuff my mouth with Ma'mouls instead.
Ma' moul and those Lata's songs or Mohd. Rafi and Lata or Mukesh and Lata's songs are inseparable. It was those years when Doordarshan played good programs only on Sundays. Entire households finished their washing cleaning and would be all set for the weekend movies or Chayageet in the morning or on Thu evenings. At all other times it was those video tapes produced by Shemaroo.
In the joint family we always had a visitor or too from our village. People who would come down to Mumbai for some work and for the night stay at our home. Entertaining them was a difficult job for us kids. We didn't share much in common with them except that we liked to hear stories of our parents growing up in Thal, the saviour for us were these Chayageet video tapes. We had learnt to play these and ensure that our guests were glued to the TV.
We had watched those videos so many times actively and passively that when we played antakshari there would be a reshuffle automatically and we sang all the songs in the order of the videos. I can almost see all my brothers and sisters gleaming at this. Aaj mausam bada, be_iman hai bada, be_iman haiaaj mausam...followed by Chaudavi ka chand ho~~ or Yahooo!!! Koi muze junglee kahe followed Deewana hua badal. Those songs were from our parents generation but we giggled and watched the heroines running down meadows in those will-burst-now Punjabi suits. As Mom pointed out, "See Asha Parekh started that trend of wearing the dial of the watch on the inner side of the wrist." I still wear it like that because Mom said it was stylish.
It's been years now, we haven't played the video tapes. There is fungus on it and the VCR - the Video Cassette Recorder is dead but still in its cabinet in my Mumbai home. The DVD player now sits on top of it. The VCR made me realize I was technically inclined, I would repair it many times, cleaning the magnetic head with a special spray, opening the hood to clear out stuck tape or when the tape load gears refused to budge. I think Mothe Baba was my inspiration he was a natural mechanic. He could repair almost all home appliances and electronic goods.
Now that I have tried making Ma'mouls at home I plan to make them for my Unc. MJK who has stopped all travel now. I am pretty sure he will love them. I need to try the Khubuz too, that was another thing he always got for me. I think I inherit my Uncles love for vegetarian adventures when it comes to food. Plus when you have google you have nothing to worry. Tadah! and you make your own.
Ma'mouls are crumbly eclair cookies filled with dates and there are variations with nuts too. These are shaped in special wooden moulds but in case you don't have them use your Mudh (rice mold) like I did or small tart moulds.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup semolina
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teapsoon rose water
2 cups dates ( I used Khadrawi dates)
In a large bowl put the milk and add yeast to it. Leave it to bloom for 10 mins. Now add the sugar, all purpose flour, semolina, salt and butter. Rub gently. Add rose water. This will help you make a dough that is just brought together and crumbly. Let it proof for at least couple of hours. I kept it entire afternoon and baked in the evening.
While this was on. I deseeded the dates and poured honey over it. Plus added the cardamom seeds to it.
Once the proofing is done. The sugar would have dissolved and the yeast would have worked its magic. Just knead the dough one more time gently. Keep aside.
Now the dates would have gone nice and soft in the honey. You could kneaded them with hand. I tried grinding in the chutney grinder and it went plonk! The gooey stuff chokes the grinder but hand kneading works great.
Divide the dough and the date mix into 16 parts.Make a basket of the dough and stuff them with date mix like ilustrated here. Keep the size that of a lemon.
Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. I greased my bhaat mudh (mould) with butter and pressed the date stuffed dough balls into it. I got a faint design but that's ok when you don't have those pretty Ma'moul moulds.
Tap the mold on the edge of the kitchen platform with your hand below it, to catch the release cookie. Place them in a neat line on the baking tray.
Preheat oven to 180 deg Celsius. Bake the Ma'mouls for 20-25 mins or till golden.
Let them cool before you take a bite. The crumbly cardamom flavored date filled cookies are a treat.