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 😀

Its raining lauki here…

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When you too much lauki on hand- this is something you can try.
1 medium sized Lauki, cubed
1 tbsp sambar powder
1 lemon-sized tamarind ball, soaked in hot water and the pulp extracted
 1 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 to 1 tsp Methi seeds
1 tbsp Chana dal
2 dried red chillies, crumbled
1 – 2tbsp Rice flour, as a thickening agent, dissolved in about 2-3tbsp of water
Heat the oil, add the seasonings. Once it splatters, add the lauki and saute it.
Add sambar powder and saute till the raw smell is gone.
Add the tamarind water and cook for about 10 min.
Add the rice flour mixture and cook for about 5min or until the kuzhambu is thick.

You can also use drumstick  and other berries in this recipe. But the all-time favorite is this one here.

Judgement: It tasted great as always- for some reason I thought laukis would turn sweet but thankfully they tasted amazing

PS: A halloween horror story about these good ol’ cousins of cucumber. Well take this bit of news with a pinch of salt, especially since its on TOI.