The power of an aroma

It’s amazing how memories from your childhood play such a huge role in shaping you later on. As a kid, summer vacations in Bombay, what it was called then, were an annual ritual. My grandmum’s place was in Vile Parle and like anyone from another city, I was fascinated by the hustle-bustle of Bombay. The city had an aroma that enveloped it which was buzzing, busy and vibrant. One of the highlights of these vacations would be the mandatory ride on a local train. I loved the whole idea of travelling around the city in a train, where you could shop for trinkets or even buy veggies en route. The indication of Vile Parle approaching would be that signature, heavenly aroma of biscuits at the Parle Biscuit Factory close to the station. Even as an adult, when I moved to the city, every time this station approached I’d take a deep breath to inhale this.

Vile parle

The Parle Biscuit Factory near Vile Parle station Picture courtesy:

Last week when I read about the Parle factory shutting down, I was sad. Vile Parle would never be the same and nor would my local train journeys. Like someone said, without this factory the suburb is now just Vile!

Since this was on my mind I wanted to bake something that would invoke the same aroma. So cookies it is! After a lot of debating, I decided to make something I wanted to for a long time – Thumbprint cookies! This reminds me of Jam Biscuits that my aunts would get for me as a kid. I used a vegan recipe for this simply because I had some homemade peanut butter I wanted to finish 🙂 These cookies have a slightly salty hint, are wonderfully nutty & so good as a mid-meal snack!

PBJ cookies

Peanut butter & jam thumbprint cookies (vegan)

Adapted from Minimalist Baker

1 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour

3/4 cup of sugar

1/3 cup of peanut butter

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 tsp of vanilla essence

1 tsp of baking powder

1/4 cup of soya milk

Pinch of baking soda

3 tbsp of homemade strawberry jam


Take a bowl and put the flour, baking powder & baking soda in it. Mix well. Keep it aside for a while.

Take another bowl, preferably a large mixing bowl, add the peanut butter, olive oil & vanilla essence, mix well. Now add the sugar to it & beat until fluffy.

Add the flour mixture to this & mix well. The dough may be a little dry at this point, so gradually add the soya milk to this to loosen it up a bit. Fold again until you get a thick dough that can be moulded with your hands. Let the dough rest for about 30 minutes.

Now pinch out a small portion of the dough, place it in between your palms and shape into discs that are about half-inch in diameter and no more than 2mm in thickness. Place these on a baking tray that has been lined either with parchment paper or with aluminium foil, make sure there’s adequate space between each disc to allow it to rise.

Next, with your thumb make an impression in the centre of the disc. This should not be too deep, just a light one so  that it creates a cavity for the jam filling. Take a spoonful of the jam & drop small portions into the cavity. Ensure that the jam isn’t spilling out of the cookie disc.

Bake this for about 10-12 minutes at 180 degrees in a pre-heated oven until they have turned a darker shade of brown. Remove from the oven, allow the cookies to cool down & then transfer into an air-tight jar.

PBJ cookies2

Just out of the oven!

*Use maida or all-purpose flour if you like in place of the wheat. In that case, you will have to reduce the baking powder to 3/4 tsp

*You can use store-bought peanut butter or jam in this recipe too. If you don’t like strawberry, feel free to use mixed fruit or any other version

*I’ve used soya milk as I was trying out a vegan recipe, you can simply sub this with regular milk or if you still want to go vegan then, there are plenty of options like almond milk, rice milk, etc. Take your pick!

PBJ cookies 1

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