Semolina (Rava) Bread

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.” – M.F.K. Fischer



True that !! Nothing like the smell of baking bread !! 
The weather was awesome….a light breeze and a constant drizzle with spells of heavy showers off and on….. Isn’t it the perfect setting for baking. Baking breads. 🙂
I made Semolina Bread. Semolina known as Rava or Sooji in India. Semolina flour is often also used in making Pastas. In breads it adds a sweetish fermented aroma and a smooth silky texture.


This bread dough is made with a technique called Sponging. It is an old fashioned type of sponge called Flying Sponge. So first we create the sponge (more in the recipe….) and then add it to the main flour. 
Yes you do need to have time at hand to do this bread but one bite and you know it was all worth the effort.  It has a crispy crust and chewy inside. 
So it was a perfect Saturday spent with a surprise from the cousins over lunch and then bread baking. Between making and sponge and the main dough KJ and I decided to take a walk in the rain…. yes we had that kinda time in between 🙂



So here it is:

Semolina Bread

Makes 2 large loaves

Ingredients:
Sponge:
180 g (1 ½ cups) Semolina Flour
180 g (1 ½ cups) Bread Flour
250 g (1 1/8 cups) Water
1 ¼ tsp Instant Yeast
½ tsp Sugar
Final Dough:
270 g (2 & 1/8 cups) Semolina Flour
270 g (2 & ¼ cups) Bread Flour
306 g (1 and 3/8 cups) Water
1 tbsp Salt
2 tbsps Olive oil, extra virgin
Sponge, all of the above

Procedure
Creating the Sponge:
1. Mix the semolina flour, bread flour, water, yeast and sugar until evenly incorporated.  You can use the mixer, but I just used a large fork.
2. The sponge should be fairly loose.  Let the sponge ferment for about 1¼ hours.

Mixing the Dough:
1. Add all of the ingredients, including the sponge, to the mixing bowl and mix on first speed until all of the ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes.
2. Increase the speed to the second speed and mix for another 2 to 3 minutes.  The dough will be of medium consistency. It should have noticeable gluten development.
I used my hands to mix the dough and kneaded it with hands too.
Bulk Fermentation:
Let the dough bulk ferment for 1½ hour and fold the dough after 45 minutes.  

Dividing Shaping and Baking the Loaves:
1. Divide the dough into two halves, preshape lightly into rounds and place the rounds on a lightly floured surface, seams up.  Cover the rounds with plastic.
2. After about 10-20 minutes, when the dough has relaxed sufficiently, shape it into tight round or oval loaves.  Place the loaves into floured lined baskets.
3. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C.
4. Invert the loaves onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.  They came out of the baskets really easily.

5. Spray the top of the loaves with water and sprinkle them with sesame seeds or nigella seeds and score the bread with a sharp knife or a blade.
6. Once the oven is preheated, bake the bread for 15 minutes on a water bath, and then lower the oven setting to 230 degrees C.  Continue baking for 20 to 30 minutes more.  Check the breads during the bake and rotate them 180 degrees for even baking if necessary.

7. Remove the loaves to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.



Happy Baking !!

Making Sour Cream at Home | How To Series| Kitchen Hacks

When you love to cook, especially everything from scratch, learning about these small but important things is not only imperative but also gives me a high.

Making Sour Cream at home is just so simple. Just so amazing !! And again costs you one fourth of what you buy from the market.
Homemade Sour Cream stays happy in the refrigerator for a month and it gets thicker and thicker and better and better with time.
Please make sure that both the cream and the buttermilk are at room temperature when you are making sour cream. This is important for best results. If the ingredients are cold, the sour cream will take much longer to thicken or may not thicken properly.
A lot of friends and my readers have been asking how to make sour cream at home. Finally, here it is:

Sour Cream
Ingredients
2 cups or 400 ml Light Cream, at room temperature
2 tbsps cultured Buttermilk, at room temperature
Procedure
1. Place the cream in a medium sized glass bowl.
2. Add the buttermilk and mix well.
3. Cover tightly with cling wrap and keep in a warm place for 24 hours, until thickened to a custard like consistency.I keep it inside my microwave.
4. After 24 hours keep the bowl in the refrigerator for atleast 24 hours before using the sour cream. The sour cream may continue to thicken in the refrigerator.

How To Make Buttermilk 


Take one cup milk at room temperature.
Add 2 tbsp of Vinegar and let it stand for 10 minutes.
Buttermilk is ready. 
Use it for beads, scones, cakes, sour cream etc.

Happy Exploring !!

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 !!

Condiment Series | Capsicum-n- Celery Dip | Dip


I recently did a series of 30 days 30 dips and it was a huge success. I loved it and people, my readers loved it too. This is a dip which was supposed to be a part of that series but it left me in two minds so I skipped it at that time, however after all these dips, this particular dips still remains close to my heart.


Capsicum-n-Celery Dip, this is where it all started. After this there was no stopping me. When I started making my own dips at home for parties a few years back, this was one of the first dips I made. To my surprise then, it was an absolute winner. 
Capsicum in my mind is the only vegetable equivalent to a herb…. as fresh and as fragrant !! It has the ability to add that extra zing to a dish.


This is a simple dip where, I not just use the celery stem, but also the leaves. The celery leaves have a much stronger spicy fragrance. You would need to chop the leaves really fine though. 

Serve this with whatever. It’s a crowd pleaser, the bowls are wiped clean 🙂

Capsicum-n-Celery Dip




Ingredients

1/2 cup Quark or Hung Curd

1/4 cup cold milk

1 small Capsicum, finely chopped

1 clove of Garlic, minced

1 stem and leaves of Celery finely chopped

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Salt to taste

Direction

1. Whisk the quark till absolutely smooth and creamy. Add the milk and whisk some more.

2. Now add the capsicum, garlic and celery. Mix well. Add the salt and pepper. Give it another stir till everything is well blended. If you find the dip a little thick, add a little more cold milk.

3. Transfer in a serving dish and serve with your choice of appetizer.

Happy Dipping !!




Mushroom Tart | Baking


What better way to welcome the monsoons than baking a tart !! Rains have started playing hide-n-seek in Delhi now, and we, the rain parched mortals leave no occasion to celebrate the high and mighty rains. 

While savoury tarts are perfect for cold winter nights, they are great company for the rain on your window sill 🙂

This tart has a surprise element which adds a new dimension to the flavour. A layer of caramelized onions. The slight sweetness from the onions actually enhances the umami flavour of the mushrooms. 
This is now my new go-to veg tart for friends and family. 🙂

Mushroom Tart

Ingredients

For the Pastry

225g All Purpose Flour

100g Butter

1 tsp Powdered Sugar

Ice Cold Water about 1/3 of a cup

For the Filling

5-6 Medium to Large sized Onions (for making caramelized onions)

1/2 cup of White Wine

400 g of Mushrooms

2-3 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup of Cream

2 tbsp of Processed Cheese

1 tsp Chilli Flakes

2 Onions 

2 tbsp of Olive Oil
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp Black Pepper Powder

Cheese


Directions

For the Pastry

1. Cut the butter into 1cm cubes and freeze for about 30 minutes.
2. In a blender jar, put the flour and butter alternatingly.Blitz till you get a bread crumbly texture.
3. Transfer in a large bowl and with your hands, bring the dough together. Use cold water but keep it absolutely minimal. DO NOT OVER KNEAD THE DOUGH !! You have to just bind it together.
4. Wrap in a cling wrap and put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.


In the mean time let’s work on the filling.

1. Chop 5-6 onions into slices, take a pan, add some oil, once heated add the onions and set them to caramelise.
2. Now finely chop two more onions.
3. Wash and slice the mushrooms.
4. Keep an eye on those onions being caramelized. You don’t want them to burn.
4. Take another pan, heat the olive oil and add the finely chopped onions. Saute` till they sweat, add the garlic and saute` a little more till the garlicky aroma rises. Now add the sliced mushrooms and saute` till the mushrooms start to sweat. Add the chilli flakes, black pepper and salt. Give it a nice stir.
5. Now add the cheese and cream, give it a good mix and finally finish it off with the white wine. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
6. The mushroom filling should not be too dry but at the same time not too flowey.


Making the Tart Shell

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degree C.
2. Remove the pastry dough fro mthe refrigerator. 
3. Between two sheets of cling wrap start rolling the pastry dough.
4. Always remember to roll the pastry away from you and always in one direction. This helps in the pastry to not shrink while baking.
5. Carefully lift it, either on your rolling pin or with the cling wrap in which the dough was being rolled. Place it on your tart tin. Make sure you do not pull it. Gently press it down and trim the excess from the sides.
6 .Poke with the fork in a few places, so that it doesn’t puff up while baking.
7. Now cover it with butter paper and place either baking weights or just some beans from your kitchen.
8. Blind bake it for 20-25 minutes.
9. Remove from the oven. Remove the butter paper and the weights or the beans and let it cool down completely.

Assembly

1. Once the tart shell is completely cool, spread an even layer of the caramelized onions. 
2. Now add a layer of the mushrooms. Fill it in, nicely. Place thin strips of cheese on the top and bake at a 180 degree C for about 30 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven and serve hot.


Happy Baking !!

Peach Cobbler | Baking


Summertime is not just about Mangoes and Water Melons, it is also all about stone fruits from cherries, to apricots, to plums and my favourite Peaches 🙂



The juicy sweet fruit is typical of summers and always always remind me of the mountains. So with peaches in abundance at home nothing better than creating a dessert. Peach Cobbler !! Yes finally and that too in my cast iron skillet. Yes I’m showing off !! One look at it, and you’ll agree it is a thing to show off !! Ever since I started blogging and cooking I saw a lot of recipes being cooked in a cast iron skillet. I wanted it forever. A few months back a friend coming from US was kind enough to carry it for me (inspite all the weight of the skillet) all the way from there, but I got a chance to use it only now 🙂




So coming back to the Peach Cobbler, a cobbler is a dish usually consisting of a fruit as a filling with a crumbly topping. It can be baked in a skillet or any oven proof dish. I’ve made my cobbler in my cast iron skillet, you could also use a pyrex. If not baking in a skillet, please see the notes at the end of the recipe.


Ingredients


For the filling:


1 kg Fresh Peaches, Peeled and sliced

3/4 cup sugar

3 Tbsp Cornflour

3/4 cup butter



For the crumble:

1 cup all purpose Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 cup Sugar

1 cup Milk

4-5, 1″ cubes of butter



Directions

1. Preheat oven to 180 degree C.

2. Wash and peel the peaches. Slice them. 

3. Sprinkle the sliced peaches with sugar and cornflour and set aside.

4. In another bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and sugar. Whisk well. 

5. Now add milk to the flour-sugar mix.

6. Place the skillet on the flame, and melt the butter in it. Add the sliced peaches. Mix well.

7. Now add the flour-sugar-milk mix to the skillet and stir till well combined. 

8. Now transfer the skillet into the oven. Top with the cubes of butter and let it take for 45 minutes to an hour.

9. Remove from the oven. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.







Note: 
1. If you are not baking in a skillet, just melt the butter in a pan, pour into your baking dish, add the peaches and pour over the flour-milk mix in it and set it to bake.

2. Peach Cobbler can also be made with canned peaches. For those times when you crave a peach cobbler when these beauties are not in season. Though fresh peaches are any day better.

Happy Baking !!

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 | Soya Granules Dip | Dip

Day 27


This actually, originally was made by my mum as a sandwich spread ! That too of the leftover soya granules. She transformed the cooked ‘nutri sabji’ into an amazing sandwich dip and surprised all of us one fine morning for breakfast. This dip is an inspiration from that spread !!

Though of course this recipe is tweaked as per my taste and sensibility and is not made from leftovers.

The granules lend a very interesting texture to the dip. It is again healthy and not so bad for your waistline.
It of course can be used as a spread in sandwiches but otherwise goes well with crackers, pita, salted toasties etc.



Soya Granules Dip





Ingredients

1/2 cup Soya Granules (washed and soaked in water for 20 minutes)

1 small Capiscum finely chopped

1 small Onion finely chopped

2 cloves of Garlic, minced

For the White Sauce

1 tbsp Butter

1 tbsp Flour

1 cup Milk

1/2 tsp Pepper 

Salt to taste



Directions

1. Take a pan pour, 1 tbsp oil and saute` the garlic and onions till they sweat. Add the capsicum, saute` for another minute.

2. Now add the soya granules and season with salt. Mix well and saute for another 3-4 minutes.  Remove from the flame and let it cool down.

3. Take another pan, melt the butter, add the flour and saute` till an aroma rises. Keep stirring and make sure that the roux doesn’t change colour. 

4. Turn the flame down and add the milk in two batches, whisking well continuously. Make sure there are no lumps. 

5. Once you get a smooth sauce consistency and the sauce coats the back of the spoon, add the salt and pepper and mix well.  

6. Now add the cooked soya granules and mix well so that it blends well with the sauce. 

7. Transfer in a serving dish and serve warm with toasties or crackers.

Happy Dipping !!


Condiment Series | Sour Cream Onion Dip | Dip

Day 24


It’s here….the Sour Cream and Onion Dip !! Yummilicious and Simple !!
This is a super simple dip. Probably the simplest so far….. It’s best friends are salsa and guacamole if you like mexican !! Tastes heavenly with nachos or burritos or enchiladas or cornbread or tacos….oh ! the list is endless.
This is one dip that again goes with anything. I even love it with my seekh kebabs !! Yeah talk about fusion foods.


I often serve with ‘diet chips’. That’s what I call smart cooking or being a domestic goddess !! Put up something together so quickly which tastes yumm and leaves people wondering ‘how did she do this?’ 😛

Sour Cream and Onion Dip



Ingredients

1 cup of Sour Cream

2 Spring Onions finely chopped (including the green stems)

1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

1/2 tsp Salt

Directions

Whisk the sour cream. Add the onions, garlic powder and salt. Mix it well. Transfer in a serving bowl and serve.
Yes it’s that simple !!

Note:
I used homemade sour cream. (will share the recipe soon).
Bottled sour cream is readily available in supermarkets and cheese stores.


Happy Dipping !!