Sunday, January 31, 2010

Multi-grain bread

Eating multi-grain bread always fills me with a virtuous glow. I feel that it entitles me to another helping of payesh or a spoonful of ice cream. It also allows one to use up fractions of flours of different types left at the bottom of the jar. I added both yeast and baking powder because most of the flour types I used were low in gluten. The semolina and pearl millet bits give it a wonderful texture. The recipe makes one large loaf.


1/2 cup semolina
1/2 cup amaranth flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup broken pearl millet
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup bread flour
1/2 teaspoon fresh yeast
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups hot water
3 Tablespoon cubed butter
2 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablesppon white oil


Bring a cup of water to a boil. Measure out the oats and broken millet in a bowl. Pour over only enough hot water to cover the grains. In half cup water dissolve the molasses and the yeast. Cover and let it rise, about 15 minutes. Measure the semolina, amaranth, bread and wheat flour into a bowl. Add baking powder and salt. Mix it to uniformly distribute it. Rub the butter into it to resemble bread crumbs. Make well in the centre and add the oats and millet mixture. Make sure they have cooled down sufficiently to handle with hands. Add the fermented yeast. Make it into a dough. All the grains must mix sufficiently, so this process takes about 10 minutes. If sticky, sprinkle the working surface with bread flour and slap down the dough until it is elastic. Lightly oil a bowl with a little oil and place the dough to rise for an hour. Once the dough has risen, it can be placed into an oiled loaf tin for the second rising. I wanted something interesting to look at and therefore divided the dough into 1 inch balls and arranged them in the loaf tin. Cover and let the dough rise for 4-5 hours. It might take longer at colder climes, but in Madras it is always good temperature for the yeasts to bloom! By the time the second rtising was complete it had a lovely cobbled appearance! Prepare the oven and heat it upto 200 degree centigrade. Bake for 30-45 minutes. It should be nicely browned on the surface. And test hollow when turned out and tapped on the bottom.
Great with cheese and any number of dips.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Khichri and Springroll: spring in the air

Back when I was a child, Khichri was a staple of wet, rainy days. During the monsoon season it would be flavoured with cauliflower; in winter it would be carrots and peas. Those were really "seasonal" times! Its a great one-pot meal and if necessary, can be made like a stew. The traditional Bengali khichri can be quite elaborate. There are several recipes for that on the net. My kichri is certainly not traditional but a variant which comes together beautifully. And it is rather simple. It is however full of healthy" stuff!I wanted to use up some of the lentils left over in small quantities. Also some fish stock which was at the back of the freezer. Mine was slightly soupy. We had it with some spring rolls. Again I had wrappers and frozen corn kernels to use up.


1 cup unsplit, unhusked Moong bean
1/2 cup broken wheat (dahlia)
1/2 cup brown rice
1 onion, chopped
5 spring onions, white part only, chopped
3 cloves, minced
1 litre fish stock
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes or a dash of Tabasco
3 Tablesppon white oil

5 black olives, chopped
A handful of pomegranate seeds

Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Fry the onions and spring onions until translucent. Add the clove and chilli flakes. Stir for about 5 minutes more until they soften. In the meantime, wash the rice, broken wheat, lentil mix thoroughly. Use several changes of water. Add the fish stock to the fried onions and bring it to boil. Add the grains and one teaspoon of salt. Pressure cook it according to how you would cook lentils in your pressure cooker. When finished check how much more salt you need to add. You could also make it drier if that is your preference. It does need to be stirred continuously if you are boling off some of the extra broth. I garnished it with black olives and pomegranate seeds for contrast.

Corn kernel SPRING ROLLS

1 cup corn kernels
1/4 cup semi-hard cheese (I used a young Parmesan)
2 slitted, deseeded green chilli, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Sechuan pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Eggwash for sealing
1 teaspoon of oil
16 spring roll wrappers, square or round


Blitz all ingredients except egg in a blender. Pulse it. It should not be a puree. Oil a baking tray or parchment. In the middle of the wrapper put a teaspoon of filling. Lightly brush the sides of the wrapper with the eggwash. Fold the wrapper over to form a triangle, or if you are using round wrappers, fold to form a half-moon. Press the edges with fingers and seal it into a spring roll shape. Arrange them on the tray/parchment. Brush with eggwash. Bake it for 15 minutes at 180 degree centigrade. They can also be deep-fried.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Stuffed Okra and Paneer: Radiating health

At certain times of the week, it is borne upon me that we must have something healthy and use up the vegetables in the refrigerator. So when I espied half a tin of opened tuna, quarter kilo of okra (or lady’s fingers as we call it here) and a pack of paneer, I knew what I would make. The okra must be young; the larger ones though easier to stuff are rather fibrous. The paneer cubes were kept large (1 inch cube). The sauce which went was pure inspiration and was so good that I will have to repeat the dish just for that!


For the filling:

180gm tuna flakes

4 Tablespoon onion, finely chopped

Handful of white pepper, ground

2 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon sesame paste

Salt to taste

3 Tablespoon oil

For the sauce:

3 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 Tablespoon white miso

½ cup water

100 gm paneer, cubed

200 gm okra


Wash and clean the okra. Pat them dry. Make a slit in the side with a paring knife. Be careful that the slit does not stretch all the way to the end and doesn’t show up on the other side. Widen it with your little finger slightly.

Pat the paneer cubes dry. With the little finger make a hole in it. This has to be carefully done so that the paneer does not crack. Fry the paneer pieces to a golden colour. Drain and cool.

Whiz all the filling ingredients together in a mixer. Take a little ball of the filling and push it inside the slits in the okras and the holes in the paneer cubes. Smoothen the top and do not over-stuff.

In the leftover oil (very little of it is needed, so you can pour of excess oil) fry the garlic until golden brown. Mix the miso in 2 tablespoon of water. Add the rest of the water into the pan with garlic. Heat. Arrange the okra in the pan, cover and cook for 5 minutes. They should be just al dente. With a slotted spoon take the okra out carefully and arrange them on a plate along with the stuffed paneer. Return the pan to the heat and add the miso. Stir thoroughly to make a thick paste like sauce. Pour the sauce over the paneer and vegetables before serving.