Sunday, 15 July 2012

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Bake-a-thon continues: Corn-meal and Chickpea Spiced Crackers

Crackers that cracked beautifully!!

Yup, I made a statement with tat!! And if you wonder y am I cracking up, then it is because of a challenge put forth for me to make a healthy version of crackers, which can be eaten anytime, anywhere!! Also, please note, crackers don’t always mean the tasteless but supposedly “super duper healthy” cream crackers!! These cracker sticks are much more flavourful and way healthier than any of the bought varieties.

For quite some time now, I had been thinking about making a healthy snack, but as with any healthy recipe, I was lacking the courage to actually getting to make these. Corn meal and chickpea flours are very nutritious and make a great flavour base along with the complimentary spices. It’s a fun way to start a meal as an accompaniment to soups or a great snack on the table to be served with a dip and cocktails. Guilt free, yet crisp and full of flavours from India!! The ingredients are easy to find in our kitchen while the recipe is real fast and uncomplicated!

½ cup chickpea flour (besan)
½ cup corn-meal (this is not the same as corn flour. If you have difficulty finding these in the market, make the recipe with 1 cup chickpea flour. The flavours will vary, but the texture will remain the same!)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (any type will do, I used raw sugar)
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp cumin (jeera)
1 tsp olive or sesame oil
1/4 cup water + extra if required
1 tsp all purpose flour, to help roll the dough

Mix the first 6 dry ingredients together, till it’s well combined. Now make a well in the middle to pour in the oil and water, and knead it to form a pliable dough ball. Knead it well till it stops sticking to the surface and forms a nice smooth ball of dough. Let it rest covered for 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 220 degree c and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

After 5 minutes, give the dough a couple more turns and with the help of some white all purpose flour (Maida), roll the dough as thin as possible. Cut them into strips and transfer it on the cookie sheet.

Bake these at 220 degrees for 15- 18 minutes, till it’s slightly browned on the edges and crisp all the way. Remove and let it cool.

Amazing with a dip and great with a bowl of hot soup! You can store it up for a week in an airtight container.


Monday, 2 July 2012

Teaser: Quickest Chicken Biryani with Mint Raita

What I had for dinner tonight.. Quickest Chicken Biryani with Mint Raita and Paneer Salan!!
Stay Posted!! Recipe coming up soon..

The Bake-a-thon begins: Perfect Olive Oil Focaccia

Monsoons have finally hit our country... 

Though I hate the infrastructural damage this season gets with it to the city, I enjoy the beautiful view from my window which shows greenery all around!! I love the fact that it is time for me to put on my hostess shoes and have friends over for cocktails & barbeque parties along the hills. (So yeah, lots of grilled and BBQ recipes to follow!! yay!!)

But I just cant understand the Indian sentiments towards deep fried dough dipped veggies, very fondly known as ‘pakoras’. I mean who wants to spend the beautiful rainy evening cooped up in the hot kitchen, deep frying veggies. Don’t you have better things to do like read a perfectly romantic paperback in the balcony or on the window sill, or enjoy the rainy views while sipping some hot tea/red wine?? I am a traditionalist, but I break away from these deep frying thoughts. It is not acceptable to me, to be served cold ‘pakoras’ or be sweating on a ‘kadai’ (wok) of hot oil. And for a solution, I give you baked goodies. Now you must wonder, why baked? Because, in the hot climate of india, baking is the perfect solution to everything; like, no sweat cooking, crispy cooking (reads, alternative fried), healthy and less fat cooking. So if you have a decent power back up at your place, then you should leap forward to this mode of cooking, and the results you get out of your first attempt will be enough of an encouragement for life!!

Ok, baking is great, but why should I bake bread? Well frankly, you don’t! We get awesome breads in many bakeries around the country and an Indian ‘chapati’ or ‘roti’ is a great alternative to the yeasty breads. But for me, baking my own bread is a thrill. I just simply love the way it fluffs, comes to live and then becomes a perfectly amazing loaf of bread. Bread making is a sure shot way to get your confidence up in the kitchen. If you follow the precise measurements, nothing can stop you from getting that ‘market-wala’ feel that we all love and enjoy! Mostly for my family, I make 100% whole wheat bread loaf, to be had for breakfasts or dinner rolls for later. But then focaccia is best made with white flour and so I heeded. Also, in the rainy seasons of Mumbai, it is best to use up the long stored white flour in my kitchen, rather than wasting it later. This  is my first attempt, and I have already fallen in love with this delicately flavoured bread!!

2 cups All Purpose Flour or 'maida'
1/8 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Tbsp Salt
1/2 cup + extra Warm Water (just enough that its slightly warm to touch. Don’t keep it too hot or the yeast will die or too cold that the yeast wont rise. Aim for 40 degrees c)
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 ½ tsp active dry yeast or 1 tsp instant yeast
Dried Rosemary for sprinkling
2-4 Cloves Garlic Thinly Sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Drizzling
Salt and fresh Ground Black Pepper for sprinkling

Proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve and let stand for 3 minutes or until foam appears on the surface. If using instant yeast, you don’t need to wait, straightway go to the next step.
Slowly add in the flour and salt to the bowl. As soon as dough forms which separates from the sides of the bowl (extra water might be needed), pour in 1/8 cup olive oil and knead well. The dough should come to a consistency where it springs back on touch and doesn’t stick to your hands.

Form the dough into a round ball and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it doesn't form a skin. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until double in size, for about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Once the dough is doubled and domed, turn it out onto an oiled cookie sheet. Stretch the dough out to fit the sheet, about 1/2-inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for another 15-20 minutes.

Once rested, uncover, poke a few dents on the surface, and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil. Depending on your taste, sprinkle on as much or as little of dried rosemary, sliced garlic, salt and pepper. But do remember that the expensive extra virgin olive oil has a delicate flavour, which should not be compromised with these additional spices. Cover once again and let it rest for another 15-20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C and bake the bread on the bottom rack for 20-25 minutes, or until its golden brown and crisp on the edges, but remains soft and fluffy inside.
Perfect extra virgin olive oil Foccacio every time!!  This is best served warm along with a side of fresh green pesto, recipe of which will follow soon!



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