Bread…yet again | Baking


Another weekend, another bread loaf !! I think i’ll never get tired of telling you how much I love to bake breads and how versatile a dough it is !! Before you think I’m a broken record…..let’s move on…


So this time it is a 30% whole wheat flour  (atta) and the rest is maida (all purpose flour). You will see every time you change the proportions of the flour your dough behaves differently. A simple basic loaf that goes well with curries or even as a grilled sandwich.




Ingredients

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

2.25 cups All Purpose Flour

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 tsp Dry Active Yeast

2 tsp Sugar

1 tsp Salt

1.5 cups Lukewarm Water



Directions


1. Activate the yeast in half a cup of lukewarm water.

2. In the meantime, mix both the flours, salt and olive oil together.
3. Now add the yeast and mix it well into the flour mixture. It should look crumbly, like a bread crumbs mix. You essentially need to rub the yeast into the flour with your fingers.
4. Now add the water gradually and knead it into a soft springy dough.
5. Set the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot. 

6. Allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour or until it has doubled.
7. When ready to shape the dough, set it on a very lightly floured work surface and form it into the desired shape. I wanted to make it round ! Transfer onto the dusted baking tray.
8. Cut a cross onto the loaf. Sprinkle some poppy seeds and let it rest for 30 minutes.
15 minutes before your dough is ready to go into the oven, preheat the oven on 220 degree centigrade and once preheated place the loaf tin into the oven. Bake at 220 degree centigrade for about 20 minutes.
9. Once the bread is golden brown on the top remove from the oven and transfer the loaf on to wire racks until it is completely cool.
10. Slice and serve as it is or toasted or make a sandwich !!!

Happy B(re)aking Bread !!

Nankhatai | Baking | Childhood Memories



Nankhatai – the Indian Cookie which most of us, living in this part of the world have grown up on !!
I have some amazing memories of enjoying nankhatais with my grandfather. In our house he was the one who was so so fond of these lovely cookies, and had introduced me to them. White crumbly texture, the richness of the cardamom flavour and the aroma of desi ghee (clarified butter)…oh they make for the perfect cookie!! 



Have tried my hands, a couple of times at making nankhatais, but I was never satisfied. Either it was too sweet or the texture was not crumbly enough !! Finally I’ve found the perfect recipe for the Nankhatai. They look as good as they taste, exactly they way they used to when I was a little kid !
The recipe is courtesy Aromatic Essence.



Nankhatais are shortbread biscuits popular both in India as well as Pakistan. 
On searching the net, Wiki tell me, Nankhatai is believed to have originated in Surat in the 16th century, the time when Dutch and Indians were the important spice traders. A Dutch couple set up a bakery in Surat to meet the needs of local Dutch residents. When the Dutch left India, they handed over the bakery to an Iranian. The locals disliked the bakery biscuits and to save his business he started selling dried bread at low prices. It became so popular that he started drying the bread before selling it. With time, his experimentation with bread ultimately gave birth to Nankhatai.



Nankhatai


Ingredients

2 cups All purpose flour

1 cup Semolina (Sooji)

½ cup Chickpea flour (Besan)

1 cup Clarified butter (Ghee)

1 ½ cup powdered Sugar

Elaichi (cardamom) powder to garnish

Direction
1. In a mixing bowl, mix all purpose flour, semolina, chickpea flour and sugar together.
2. Add ghee, little at a time, to the dry mixture and try to knead the dough. Do not overwork with it otherwise the nankhatais will not be flaky. You need to bring the flour together like we do for the pastry dough. Knead just enough to bring it together.
3. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
4. Line 2 to 3 baking sheets with butter paper.
5. Make small flat balls and place on baking sheet. Using a knife, cut a cross in the middle of each, press some cardamom powder. Rest the cookies in the refrigerator for another 15-20 minutes. In the meanwhile preheat the oven to 180 degree C for 10 minutes.
5. Bake at 180°C for 15-20 minutes (depending on the oven)

6. Completely cool on a wire rack and then store in an airtight container.



Happy baking !!

Arabian Date and Walnut Cake


Baking a cake is always special and baking it for someone’s birthday is only icing on the cake !! 🙂
It was my uncle’s birthday and I wanted to do a different cake though non icing. This cake is a hands down winner so full of flavour !!


I’m sure you’ll wonder that most of my cakes are baked in the bundt mould. Well, when I’m baking a cake for someone’s birthday the round is common and kinda boring. Bundt makes the cake look really interesting. There is no hard and fast rule for the mould. You can use any shape you like.



Arabian Date and Walnut Cake


Ingredients

1 ¾ cups Plain Flour

125g Butter

1 cup Sugar

2 Eggs

1 cup chopped, stoned Dates

½ cup chopped Walnuts

¾ cup hot strong Coffee

½ tsp Baking Soda (soda bicarbonate)

½ tsp Salt (omit salt if using salted butter)

1 ½ tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Vanilla Essence


Icing Sugar for dusting





Directions

1. Dust a ring mould or a bundt mould.

2. Preheat the oven to 180 degree C for 10 minutes.

3.Pour hot coffee over the dates and walnuts and allow it to cool.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda together.

5. Cream the butter and sugar and then add one egg at a time. Beat well.

6.Mix the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar-egg mixture.

7. Lastly mix in the date and nut mixture and the vanilla essence.

8. Pour into the prepared mould and bake for 50-60 minutes at 180 degree C.

9. Let it cool down. Demould and dust with icing sugar.

10. Serve.


Happy Baking !!

Pomegranate Molasses | How To Series | Kitchen Hacks


A lot of times baking and even cooking various dishes, from around the world can be challenging especially in India, because of the lack of convenience of finding certain ingredients off the shelves. Either it is difficult to find them or if you find them then they are way too expensive or difficult to source consistently.  

The flip side to this is that we learn how to create these at home !! Isn’t that what love for cooking does to so many of us !! Honestly if I know my results are exact to what I can buy in the market, I anyday want to make a dish from scratch; so making such ingredients at home is only icing on cake :-). A few examples of such ingredients are Sour Cream, Half-n-Half, Tahini, a Carton of Buttermilk, Pomegranate Molasses, Sun Dried Tomatoes etc which are either not available or way too expensive.



I ran into one such issue when I was making Muhammara, a Turkish Dip. Pomegranate Molasses is a key ingredient to muhammara and I could not find it anywhere in my city, but I could not get my heart off this simple turkish accompaniment….I just had to make it at home…so with a little research I learnt how to make Pomegranate Molasses at home and voila…..it worked. Worked beautifully !! 🙂

So here goes the recipe for Pomegranate Molasses:



Ingredients

1 litre Pomegranate Juice (I used packaged juice. If you are using fresh juice increase the sugar content to 1 cup)
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tbsp Lemon Juice

Directions

1. Pour the pomegranate juice in a pan and set it on high heat. 

2. Add the sugar and keep stirring till the sugar melts.

3. Now add the lemon juice and continue to stir till the juice thickens into an almost jelly like consistency . The moment the juice coats the back of the spoon, turn off the gas. The molasses is ready.Basically that 1 l of juice should reduce to about 350 ml.

4. Let it cool down completely then transfer in a bottle and refrigerate. Use as required. This stays happy in the fridge for many months.


We learn something new everyday !! Cheers !!

Condiment Series | Harissa | Dip

Day 28

Harissa for the brave heart or err…. for the brave tongue !!!


This is a Tunisian Hot Chili Peppers Sauce, but now making inroads into the Moroccan Cuisine. It is a combination of various types of chillies. Both fresh and dried. Traditionally Harissa uses roasted red peppers, serrano peppers and other hot chilli peppers. however the recipe goes on evolving according to the region you are in, and the availability of the the types of peppers. Actually not just the region, it varies from household to household too. Some like it smooth as a paste, some like is coarse, and some like a specific variety of chilli flavour more than the others.

Harissa works as a hot sauce, a dip or a marinade. If you are someone who can handle a tad bit of spiciness then go ahead try it in all its pureness as a dip or else, mix it with cream cheese, or honey or mayo as you like it. We at home can handle that kind spice though I like to use another dip or spread as a base and use the harissa as a garnish.

 

Harissa

Ingredients

1 Red Bell Peppers

2 Fresh whole red chillies (the fat varieties – the ones used for pickles)

2 Dried Kashmiri Deghi Mirchi ( the thin crinckled chile, deep red in colour)

2 Dried  Tarvati (the thin smooth dried red chilli with a bright red colour)

1 Dried Reshampatti chillies ( the dried fat chilli with a thick fleshy skin)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup Boiling Water

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tbsp Olive Oil



Directions

1. Put all the dried chillies in hot water and let it soak for 20 minutes, till they soften. Reserve the cilli water.

2. Once the chiles are softened, put them in a blender along with the fresh chillies, red bell peppers, salt, garlic and lemon juice. Blitz till you get a smooth puree`. If it looks a little too thick for your liking, add the reserved chilli water to thin it down a bit.

3. Now slowly dribble the olive oil and blitz a little more.

4. Transfer in a jar and refrigerate or use immediately.


Serving suggestions

– Mix with mayonnaise
– Mix with hung curd
– Serve as it is

Spice it up !!

Condiment Series | Green Peas Hummus | Dip

Day 21


I’m back with yet another Hummus dish, this time Green Peas Hummus !! This is purely a vegetable hummus unlike my earlier ones.
I’ll be honest, I’m not someone who’s particularly fond of green peas, rather as a child I would run away from them. Now I have this delish way of eating these lovely beads. The Green Peas Hummus has a lovely texture and a vibrant fresh colour and very quick to make.


Like other hummus, this too is brilliant and healthy in wraps, on crostinis or to just have with crackers.

Green Peas Hummus



Ingredients

1 cup fresh or frozen Green Peas

A handful of green cilantro

2 cloves of Garlic

1 tbsp Tahini

1 tbsp Lemon Juice

1/4 tsp Cumin Powder

Salt to taste

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions

1. Boil the peas in some salted water. (This should take about 8-10 minutes). Do not cover the pan or the peas will become dull in colour.  Drain and cool the peas under cold water. Strain and keep aside.

2. In a food processor, blitz the boiled peas, tahini, garlic, cilantro, lemon juice, cumin powder and salt. Blitz till you get a coarse paste.

3. Add a little olive oil and blitz some more. You should now get a creamy texture.

4. Transfer in the serving dish, dribble some olive oil if you like and serve.

This stays happy in a refrigerator for up to a week.


Happy Cooking !!

Condiment Series | Salsa | Dip

Day 20


During the F1 season, every other sunday is Race Day at Home !! Beer in the chillers, a bowl of some dip and lots of chips and we vroooooooom…..

Yesterday was no different, only that Nachos replaced the chips and the dip was Salsa !!!! Homemade Salsa.



Salsa is Spanish for Sauce, and in english speaking countries is referred to sauces typical of Mexican Cuisine, known as Salsa Picante, particularly those used as dips. They are often tomato based, though many are not. They are typically piquant ranging from mild to hot. This recipe is a tomato salsa, not the mildest but surely you don’t have to be a brave heart for this !! I’d say it is pleasantly spicey !! 🙂

There are various methods of doing the salsa. Some people make it with raw tomatoes and some boil it. I like mine to be roasted. I feel it intensifies the flavours.




Roasted Tomato Salsa

Ingredients

750g fire-roasted tomatoes, drained if you like a thicker salsa

3 cloves Garlic, peeled
4-5 diced Green Chiles
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 Onion diced
1 jalapeno, stem removed (and seeded, if you want less heat)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. black pepper



Directions:

1. Preheat oven to the maximum heat for 10 minutes.

2. Cut the tomatoes and place them on a baking try cut side facing down. Roast for about 10-15 minutes till the tomato skin starts getting black spots. Remove from the oven and let it cool down to room temperature.

3. Once the tomatoes cool, remove the skin and discard. It comes off very easily.

4. In a food processor, pulse the tomatoes and all other ingredients until a coarsely ground. You can decide the consistency. I personally don’t like it completely smooth. 

5. Serve  with Nachos immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for upto 7 days.

Note:
You can of course adjust the chillies according to your preference.


Ole` Ole` !!

Condiment Series | Mast-O-Khiar | Dip

Day 19



You already know my love for hung curd !! These days my hot favourite cuisine is Middle Eastern so here is another hung curd dip…..completely aromatic and exotic !! Look at that name… Mast-O-Khiar, a Persian dip perfect to beat the summer heat !

What Tzatziki is to the Greeks, Mast-O-Khiar is to the Persians, only more aromatic and a tad sweet.
Traditionally this dish was always a side in Iranian meals, however it now has evolved into a crowd pleaser at parties in the form of a dip served with finger foods or leavened breads.



Mast-O-Khiar



Ingredients

1 cup Thick fresh yogurt chilled (I used hung curd, though hung only for 40 minutes)

1 small Cucumber peeled, deseeded and cubed

2 tbsp Walnuts toasted and crushed

1 tbsp Dried Cranberries chopped

1 tbsp Dried Rose Petals

5-6 Fresh Mint Leaves chopped finely

1 tbsp Fresh Dill Leaves chopped finely

1 clove Garlic minced

Salt to taste


Extra Virgin Olive oil to drizzle




Directions


In a mixing bowl, whisk the curd to a smooth consistency. 

Add the crushed garlic, salt, dill and mint. Mix well again.

Just before serving, add the cucumber along with the walnuts.

Mix well.

Garnish with rose petals, dried cranberries and a few pieces of walnut.

Drizzle that olive oil.

Serve with leavened breads or crackers.




Happy Cooking !!


Condiment Series | Egyptian Beetroot Dip | Dip

Day 14


Egyptian Beetroot Dip  – why is this called so, even I don’t know !! 

The recipe shows influences from the middle east and we know for a fact, that the flavours in the cuisines from Egypt and the Middle East are overlapping. This is probably egyptian and not lebanese, because of the use of spices. Egyptians are known to use spices heavily in their food. Usually one finds variants of the similar lebanese dishes in Egypt but with additions of more fragrances and aromas in the form of spices.



This dip is my ‘show-off’ dip’ :D. It is a perfect party enhancer. Make this, serve with crackers or soup -sticks along with the drinks and your party begins….What I like about such dips is that they are delicious, light, guilt free and look absolutely exotic !! Look at that colour…. 



Egyptian Beetroot Dip

Ingredients

2 large Beetroots
4 cloves of Garlic
1/3 cup of plain yoghurt
1 heaped tsp of Cumin seeds
1 tsp of Coriander seeds
1 tsp ground Cinnamon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Toasted Pistachios, roughly chopped for garnish



Direction

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degree C. Wrap the beetroots in foil and roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes.
2. When the last 10 minutes are left throw in the garlic and let it roast as well. Let the beetroot cool down, then peel the skin off.

3. While the beetroot is roasting, take a small frying pan and dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds, till aroma rises. Remove from the flame and grind to a fine powder.

4. Roughly chop the beetroots, put in the food processor and add all the other ingredients besides the olive oil and pistachios. 

5. Blitz in the processor till well blended and a smooth paste is formed. Transfer in the serving dish, dribble some olive oil and pistachios for garnish.

6. Serve with crackers or any other finger food of your choice.



Condiment Series | Homemade Mayonnaise | Dip

Day 12


It is called the mother of all dips. Yes today I share the recipe of homemade Mayonnaise !
Homemade mayo is the best thing that can happen to anyone who loves mayonnaise. Since this is homemade with natural ingredients and preservative-free, keep in mind that the shelf life may not be as long as the store bought mayonnaise which is surely full of stabilizers and preservatives.

This should not worry you though, because it is the simplest thing to make. It takes precisely seven minutes to make this much quantity. 
You need to be careful while adding the oil as the slower you pour it better it emulsifies. To see mayo being made is almost magical !!

Here I’ve made this recipe with my regular cooking oil, you could however use olive oil if you like and also use mustard oil. If using mustard oil, remember to omit the mustard that is added separately in this recipe.

Mayonnaise can be eaten as it is …..use it with burgers, fries, soup sticks or add different herbs and other ingredients to change its flavour. No wonder it is called the mother of all dips as it beautifully adapts to various different flavours and tastes great on its own too.

Also if you want to omit mustard altogether you can do that as well. That will give you a pure white mayo unlike this creamy looking dip.

Homemade Mayonnaise

Ingredients

2 egg yolks (free range and very fresh eggs)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp Dijon mustard (I used Frenchie’s Mustard)
1 tsp salt
3 cloves of garlic crushed (optional. I added)
a pinch or 2 of sugar
black pepper 

500ml / 2 cups of oil (it can be olive oil, or your regular cooking oil)


Directions

1. In the food processor briefly blend the eggs, vinegar, lemon, garlic, sugar and mustard.
2. With the processor still running, slowly add the oil in a slow thin stream until it has all emulsified.
3. Check the taste and add the salt and pepper.

Store in a jar and refrigerate. 

Notes:
– This is a basic mayonnaise recipe. You can add different herbs and spices and change the flavour as you like.
– Store in refrigerator only. 
– You could replace red wine vinegar with regular white vinegar as well.