Something new for 2011!

So finally before the year ended I learned something new- sourdough bread! Thanks to daring bakers- I am late in posting this not because I made it late but because with friends visiting town it was hard to get to setting up the post. The bread lasted for about half a day- so I have no pictures either but I do, now, have the mighty sourdough starter. Hopefully I will be able to keep it alive and kicking!

 Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

For more on how to let nature do the work, check here.

French Country Bread
Servings: 1 large loaf plus extra wheat starter for further baking
Wheat Starter – Day 1:
4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
Total scant ½ cup (115 ml) (3 oz/85 gm)
1. In a Tupperware or plastic container, mix the flour and water into a paste.
2. Set the lid on top gently, cover with a plastic bag, to prevent messes in case it grows more than expected!
3. Set somewhere warm (around 86 F if possible). I sometimes put mine on a windowsill near a radiator, but even if it’s not that warm, you’ll still get a starter going – it might just take longer.

Wheat Starter – Day 2:

4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
scant 1/2 cup (115 ml) (3 oz/85 gm) starter from Day 1
Total scant cup (230 ml) (6 oz/170 gm)
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 1, cover, and return to its warm place.
Wheat Starter – Day 3:
4 1/2 tablespoons (70 ml) (40 gm/1 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour
4 teaspoons (20 ml) water
scant 1 cup (230 ml) (6 oz/170 gm) starter from Day 2
Total 1⅓ cup (320 ml) (230 gm/8-1/10 oz)
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 2, cover, and return to its warm place.
Wheat Starter – Day 4:
3/4 cup plus 1½ tablespoons (205 ml) (120 gm/4 ¼ oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup less 4 teaspoons (100 ml) water
1⅓ cup (320 ml) (230 gm/8 oz) starter from Day 3
Total scant 2⅔ cup (625 ml) (440 gm/15½ oz)
1. Stir the flour and water into the mixture from Day 3, cover, and return to its warm place. At this point it should be bubbling and smell yeasty. If not, repeat this process for a further day or so until it is!
French Country Bread
Stage 1: Refreshing the leaven
1 cup less 1 tablespoon (225 ml) (160 gm/5 ⅔ oz) wheat Leaven Starter
6 tablespoons less 1 teaspoon (85 ml) (50 gm/1¾ oz) stoneground bread making whole-wheat or graham flour
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons (250 ml) (150 gm/5 ⅓ oz) unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
Production Leaven Total 2¾ cups plus 4 teaspoons (680 ml) (480 gm /1 lb 1 oz)
1. Mix everything into a sloppy dough. It may be fairly stiff at this stage. Cover and set aside for 4 hours, until bubbling and expanded slightly.
French Country Bread
Stage 2: Making the final dough
3/4 cup less 1 teaspoon (175 ml) (100 gm/3 ½ oz) stoneground breadmaking whole-wheat or graham flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (510 ml) (300gm/10 ½ oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons (7½ ml) (7 gm/¼ oz) sea salt or ⅔ teaspoon (3⅓ ml) (3 gm/⅛ oz) table salt
1 ¼ cups (300 ml) water
1 ¾ cups (425 ml) (300 gm/10 ½ oz) production leaven – this should leave some (1 cup) for your next loaf.
Total 6 cups less 2 tablespoons 1415 ml (1007 gm/35 ½ oz/2 lb 3½ oz)
1. Mix the dough with all the ingredients except the production leaven. It will be a soft dough.
2. Knead on an UNFLOURED surface for about 8-10 minutes, getting the tips of your fingers wet if you need to. You can use dough scrapers to stretch and fold the dough at this stage, or air knead if you prefer. Basically, you want to stretch the dough and fold it over itself repeatedly until you have a smoother, more elastic dough.
See my demonstration here:
3. Smooth your dough into a circle, then scoop your production leaven into the centre. You want to fold the edges of the dough up to incorporate the leaven, but this might be a messy process. Knead for a couple minutes until the leaven is fully incorporated in the dough. See my demonstration here:
4. Spread some water on a clean bit of your work surface and lay the dough on top. Cover with an upturned bowl, lining the rim of the bowl with a bit of water. Leave for an hour, so that the gluten can develop and the yeasts can begin to aerate the dough.
5. Once your dough has rested, you can begin to stretch and fold it. Using wet hands and a dough scraper, stretch the dough away from you as far as you can without breaking it and fold it back in on itself. Repeat this in each direction, to the right, towards you, and to the left. This will help create a more ‘vertical’ dough, ready for proofing. See my demonstration here:
6. Heavily flour a banneton/proofing basket with whole wheat flour and rest your dough, seam side up, in the basket. Put the basket in a large plastic bag, inflate it, and seal it. Set aside somewhere warm for 3-5 hours, or until it has expanded a fair bit. It is ready to bake when the dough responds to a gently poke by slowly pressing back to shape.
7. Preheat the oven to hot 425°F/220°C/gas mark 7. Line a baking sheet with parchment, then carefully invert the dough onto the sheet. I like to put the baking sheet on top of the basket, then gently flip it over so as to disturb the dough as little as possible. Make 2-3 cuts on top of the loaf and bake for 40-50 minutes, reducing the temperature to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 after 10 minutes.
8. Cool on a cooling rack.

Judgement: This bread is quite forgiving, I did make mistakes in few of the steps and despite that the bread was awesome. Too bad I did not make any soup to go with it!

Sindhi Majoon for ICC

This month’s Indian Cooking Challenge is a Sindhi winter special sweet called Majoon. Vaishali of Ribbons to Pastas shared this wonderful recipe. This event was started by Srivalli of Spice your life.

Interestingly if you google “Majoon”, the top search results have something to do with marijuana :D. Majoon is an Arabic word for goodies that contain cannabis!


1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 cup 2% Milk
1/4 cup Sugar
2tbsp Poppy seeds
1cup Khoya (unsweetened)
1 1/4 cups nuts (Almonds,walnuts, Cashews, Pistachios)
1/4cup Ghee
1tsp Cardamom powder
1/4cup Dry dates (chopped or pulsed)


Bring milk and sugar t boil. Add the poppy seeds, khoya,cardamom powder and dry dates, and boil until the mixture is reduced to half.

Coarsely grind, or mildly pound the nuts and add them to the boiling mixture. Let this mixture cook in low flame stirring in between, add the ghee slowly.

Cook until the mixture seems dry (looks like a brownish milk halwa). It took me about 1 hr from start to finish.

Serving: Take 3-4tbsp of the majoon and heat in microwave oven for 2minutes with 2tsp of milk, serve hot for breakfast.

Judgement: I am not sure I will have it for breakfast but it sure does make for a great nutty dessert! Loved it especially when served piping hot.

Povitica- daring bakers

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The temperatures have finally cooled down and I can turn the oven ON….!! Nothing else would even compare to take a shot at a Daring Bakers Challenge.
The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!
I made a quarter batch (in retrospective I should made at least the half batch and frozen some- it was that good!)
Quarter Batch Dough Ingredients (Makes one loaf 1.25 lbs/565 grams)
To activate the Yeast:
½ Teaspoon (2½ ml/2¼ gm) Sugar
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml/¾ gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Warm Water
1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/3½ gm/0.125 oz/½ sachet) Dry Yeast
½ Cup (120 ml) Whole Milk
3 Tablespoons (45 ml/43 gm/1½ oz) Sugar
¾ Teaspoon (3¾ ml/9 gm/0.17 oz) Table Salt
1 Large Egg
1 tablespoon (30 ml/30 gm/¼ stick/1 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz/0.62 lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided
2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Cold STRONG Coffee
1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/7 gm/¼ oz) Granulated Sugar
Melted Butter
Quarter Batch Filling Ingredients (enough filling for one loaf)
1¾ Cups (420 ml/280 gm/10 oz) Ground English Walnuts
¼ Cup (60 ml) Whole Milk
¼ Cup (60 ml/58 gm/½ stick/2 oz) Unsalted Butter
1 Egg Yolk From A Large Egg, Beaten (I omitted the egg)
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
½ Cup (120 ml/115 gm/4 oz) Sugar
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml/1 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
¼ Teaspoon (1¼ ml/¾ gm) Cinnamon
To Activate Yeast:
1. In a small bowl, stir 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon flour, and the yeast into ½ cup warm water and cover with plastic wrap.
2. Allow to stand for 5 minutes
To Make the Dough:
3. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C.
4. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, sugar, and the salt until combined.
5. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 3/4 cups of flour.
6. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl.
7. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick.
8. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowls, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise an hour and a half in a warm place, until doubled in size. 
To Make the Filling
9. In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
10. Heat the milk and butter to boiling.
11. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
12. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
13. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.
14. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.
To Roll and Assemble the Dough:
15. Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.
16. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly)
17. Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches (25½ cm by 30½ cm) in diameter.
18. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (5ml to 7 ½ ml/4 gm to 7 gm) of melted butter on top.
19. Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling pin, if you prefer.
20. As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking.
21. When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the sheet underneath.
22. Spoon filling (see below for recipe) evenly over dough until covered.
23. Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll.
24. Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced.

25. Repeat with remaining three loaves, coiling each rope of dough in its own loaf pan.
26. Brush the top of each loaf with a mixture of of cold STRONG coffee and sugar. If you prefer, you can also use egg whites in place of this. 
27. Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
28. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
29. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
30. Turn down the oven temperature to slow 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done.
31. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
32. Check the bread at 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to.
33. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes, still in the bread pan. Remember, the bread weighs about 2.5 and it needs to be able to hold its own weight, which is difficult when still warm and fresh out of the oven. Allowing it to cool in the pan helps the loaf to hold its shape.
34. It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.
I made my dough in the stand mixer (first time using this piece of kitchen equipment- hurray for many more to come!). 
My dough did not rise too well (it was quite chilly inside- I finally put mine in the oven with lights on for about an hour)
I also could not get the dough too thin- this is where I had the hardest time. So the end result was not flaky…
Judgement- …but it tasted damn good! I will surely make this again, thanks Jenni- this was a wonderful challenge! You can check what other more talented DBers have made here.

Bring on those beans…

These days I rarely watch any cooking shows at all but I am glad I chanced upon this one- Mad hungry with Lucinda. This particular episode caught my eye because most dishes were vegetarian and the few that were not, could easy be turned into a green meal :D. This recipe has been adapted from that show- hers was almost the bare bones rice and beans while mine has a few bells and whistles.


1 1/2 cups black beans, soaked for 8-12hrs
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 bunch scallion, chopped (because I love scallions)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp cumin
2-3 tsp ground roasted cumin powder
2-3 tsp ground coriander powder
red pepper flakes, I use a lot
salt and pepper to taste
water to cook beans

Brown rice- 1 1/2 cups cooked (I did toast them lightly in about 1 tbsp butter and a bay leaf)


Lemon wedges and avocado (I did not have any)


Pressure cook beans in about 3 cups of water and some salt
Drain the beans and keep aside
Heat oil in a pan. Once hot, add the red pepper flakes and cumin seeds. Roast them for ~30sec or so. Then add the onions, celery and carrots- add the cumin and coriander powder, a dash of salt and pepper. Saute until the veggies are translucent and tender.
Add the beans and saute for about 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning, garnish with some fresh cilantro.

Serve it with some hot lightly salted- bay leaf smelling brown rice! Squeeze some lemon and scoop some avocado on it- and ENJOY!

Judgement: I was worried since it was a dry side dish it might not go well with rice but boy was I wrong! I could not get enough of it 😀 . This one’s a keeper my friends!


A very Happy Diwali!
It is the season of lights, warmth, gifts, peace and love! I wish everyone all the happiness in the world- enjoy what you have been bestowed with and share what you been given with everyone else! 
I knew someone like that- a larger than life personality. I am in denial and shock- a tragic road accident in Haiti ended her life-that is it, just like that….. reminds one of how fleeting life can be
I was not going to make anything then I thought you know why not- she loved to celebrate and share her happiness with her friends. I did not know her that long or that well but that did not matter…

I made thattais and pedas (from store-bought khoya!) this year- 
For the thattais


Rice flour (best if you made this yourself, unfortunately mine was store bought*)- 2.5 cups
Urad dal flour- 0.5 cups
Butter, softened- 25 gms
Salt- as necessary soaked in water
Hing- a pinch soaked in water

~1 cup Pottukadalai (I roasted these too lightly)
~ 3-4 tbsp Omam (caraway seeds)
~ 3 -4 tbsp Toasted sesame seeds
My mom also adds some dried grated coconut (I did not)

Oil, for frying
Water, for kneading


1. Roast the rice flour and urad dal flour separately until the raw smell of the flours is gone (just takes a few minutes)
2. Mix the flours, butter, salt water, hing water just until everything is loosely combined- then add the pottukadalai, caraway seeds  and toasted sesame seeds and make a  dough (you will need extra water)

3. Flatten the dough out and cut circles- fry in them in nice hot oil


Store bought khoya ~ 700gm
Sugar 250 gms
Pistachios, walnuts- to your taste (I had chopped them to tiny pieces and used them as garnish)
Gulkand* 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp to mix with rose petals
Dried edible rose petal 1 tbsp
Nutmeg powder, a pinch
ground cardamom- 1 tsp
Rose water- 1-2 tbsp


Microwave the khoya (in a microwave-safe bowl of course) for 2min- remove it and give it a good stir. Repeat this process 2 more times (you will some of it turning brown).

At this point, I took half out into a separate bowl for making gulkand pedas

1. Mix 1/2 cup gulkand and about 100 gms sugar (this gulkand I have is really sweet) with khoya.  I also added some pink color
2. I used oiled moulds to make different shapes- before I pressed the khoya mixture- I first added the garnish (rose petals mixed with 2 tbsp gulkand and the nuts), then pressed the khoya mixture into the moulds. I removed the pedas off the mould in like 5-10 sec- that is it.

For the plain pedas

1. Mix in 150 gm sugar, nutmeg, cardamom and rose water with the khoya.
2. Again before you press them into moulds, add the nuts (I omitted the rose petals for this one) and then press the khoya mixture
3. Few seconds later carefully take them out of the mould

Place the pedas on a greased sheet pan and let it dry for a few hours.

 *: the store bought rice flour is too dry and therefore the dough was quite dry- you could also taste it in these thattais!
*: Learn more about gulkand here, here and here

Have a blank canvas…

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I decorated this blank photo frame (made from recycled material) for my patti- it has the news article about her thoughts on independence in DNA India. I have always been proud of my patti! Love you Savi…

PS – do you recognize the pencil shaving?!!

Fried rice- a quest

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I am constantly churning out fried rice recipes- its like I want to perfect it! Well here is a picture of one- brown rice with broccoli, tofu, carrots, scallions seasoned with low sodium soy sauce, ground roasted cumin and coriander, a pinch nutmeg, some sriracha and sesame oil!
It was heaven, I hope I remember the exact recipe at some point 😀