Indian-Style Spicy Cheese Scones

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
masala scone

One of my specialties and favorite creations to pull from a steaming hot oven are surely quick breads such as biscuits, scones, muffins and loaves. The aroma tantalizes the senses and stimulates the appetite. I always find the transition from summer to fall rather difficult to adapt to and turning on the oven warms the toes. The only drawback is having the patience to enjoy one until it is cool enough to eat. Generally speaking, I prefer savory to sweet. I am also a spice fanatic so it seemed natural for me to come up with a spicy savory biscuit, or scone if you prefer.

Now, I don't want to start a discussion on the confusion and controversy over what constitutes a scone versus a biscuit, nor get into what a cracker, cookie or shortbread means. A few years back Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe tried to make sense of this rather complicated culinary matter. Really, it seems to depend on the region of the world you reside in or what you were brought up to understand by learning the word attached to object placed in front of you. To make things even more confusing, here in North America the terms biscuit and scones are often used interchangeably, as are cracker and biscuit, and sometimes they are sweet and sometimes not.

But enough about that. Scone or biscuit, what really matters here is this spicy baked delight that has just enough heat to please spicy-minded palates but subtle enough for even the more timid amongst us. The cheese helps cool the masala blend and compliments the moist and flaky layered texture of the biscuit. Of course, if you are like me you may be inclined to increase the amount of spice. The possibilities are endless — a basic scone dough is a blank canvas to be explored and adorned.

masala biscuit

Some tips: Much like muffins, over-mixing results in tough biscuits or scones. You want nice flaky biscuits that will rise. On the other hand, don't be afraid of the dough either. Biscuits that are underworked may turn out crumblier than you want and that would be … crummy! A combination of gentle kneading and folding over the dough a few times until smooth is the key to a biscuit that will be moist, flaky, and rise to perfection. For softer biscuits, place the formed dough closer together on the baking sheet. For crisper biscuits, place the rounds about an inch apart.

Of course, practice makes perfect and surely friends and family won't mind coming around to evaluate your test batches.

Indian-Style Spicy Cheese SconesIndian-Style Spicy Cheese Scones
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on September 19, 2012

Simple, moist and flaky cheese scones with gentle Indian spicing and heat

Preparation: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 8 to 10 minutes

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  • 1 cup unbleached white flour or spelt flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2/3 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cold whole milk
  • 1/2 cup grated extra-old sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 fresh green or red chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • handful of dried curry leaves
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Cut the cold butter into small squares and add to the dry ingredients. Working quickly and using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut in the butter until it resembles plump pea-size pieces. Make a well in the center of the ingredients.

  • Pour in the milk, mix a few times, then add the Cheddar cheese, chives, chilies and curry leaves, and stir until the dough comes together. The dough should be moist and a bit sticky. Take care not to over-mix. At this point you may want to let the dough rest in a bowl in the fridge for about a half hour covered with some plastic wrap.

  • Preheat an oven to 425°F.

  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and flour your hands. Gently knead the dough a few times, fold over the dough, turn and repeat a few times until the dough is smooth.

  • Pat or roll the dough out with a floured rolling pin until it is roughly 3/4 inches thick. Cut into 2-inch or 2 1/2-inch rounds with a floured cookie or biscuit cutter and transfer to the baking sheet. Roll out any remaining dough and repeat.

  • Alternately, cut the patted or rolled out dough into squares or wedges or gently shape the dough into rounds and transfer to the baking sheet.

  • Bake in the middle of the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the scones rise and turn a light golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack for five minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 8 scones

masala  Indian scone

More spicy treats you may enjoy from Lisa's Kitchen:
Cayenne Peanut Butter Cookies
Spicy Parmesan Crackers
Jalapeno Cheddar Scones

On the top of the reading stack: Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

Audio Accompaniment: Robert Fripp


Priya Suresh said...

Such a fabulous scones, loving it.

Venera@veggykitchen said...

Seems like this recipe is something to me. I've never made pastry with the such ingredients as cheese mixed up in the dough. I'll give it a try.
P.S. I love spices as well and the more the better)

Debbie said...

Love spices in biscuits and awesome recipe to try!

Lisa Turner said...

Oh yes, if you enjoy spices, do up the heat. The beautiful thing about this recipe is that you can adjust it to suit your preferences. It worked out even better than I thought.

Johanna GGG said...

I love your savoury scones - I am very content with some fresh scones and a bowl of soup.

I still think of you when I get into the scone vs biscuit question. I am much better with understanding terms now but occasionally still start at someone in America talking about biscuits :-)

Anonymous said...

This came out great! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I doubled the garam masala and other spices per my family's taste. I will definitely be making this again.