Pita bread

collage-1487798223196.jpg

With winter came a long period of inactivity on my blog. While, I have not been able to write about it much, it has been fun. Almost every other weekend, either we were hosting friends or getting invited to their places. Food was an integral part of this socializing. So I got several opportunities to experiment. Sometimes, it was a matter of recreating and perfecting an old special item. Sometimes, I dabbled in new cooking style. Sometimes, it was an effort to make something at home that I have often enjoyed eating outside.

Today’s post falls in that third category. I have immensely enjoyed Mediterranean food, since I first tasted it in various ‘Türkische Imbiss’ in Berlin. Thankfully, Michigan has not disappointed me either. Now and then, my husband and I go to the nearest middle-eastern eatery to enjoy shawarma, kebabs, falafel, and of course… a basket full of piping hot pita breads.

I really wanted to be able to make these breads from the mixed grain wheat flour I have at home, which I use for making Indian flatbreads of roti and parantha. After a few mistrials, I finally decided to try making those with the ‘boule’ master recipe, which I had used last year to bake bread loaves. I got this recipe in the book ‘Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day‘ by Jeff Hertzberg  and Zoë François. While it calls for unbleached, unsifted, all-purpose white flour, it has worked with my usual whole wheat/ multi-grain flours. So here is my way to pillowy and pliant pita flatbreads.

PITA FLATBREAD (WITH MULTIGRAIN WHEAT FLOUR)

Yields about 8-12 breads, depending on the size you roll.

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cups of multi-grain wheat flour, plus some more for dusting
1.5 cups of lukewarm water (only a tad more that body temperature)
1 sachet of yeast (roughly about 1 heap full of a tablespoon)
A pinch or two of salt
Method:

  1. Mix the yeast and salt in water. Let it proof for five minutes.
  2. Add the flour to this water and mix the dough with a spatula.
  3. If needed, with wet fingers, lightly mix the dough so that there are no dry patches. No kneading is necessary any further. It makes a rather shaggy loose kind of a dough, but that is what we want.
  4. Cover the dough with a loosely-fitted lid and let it rise for two hours.
  5. After the first rise, the dough can be used to make bread. Though, I like to refrigerate it overnight to make it more manageable.
  6.  To make pita, dust your platform and fingers with some dry  flour. Form a ball by pulling the top of dough to bottom repeatedly for about a minute or two.
  7. Divide it in smaller balls/ patties to make pitas.
  8. Dust a patty with dry flour and roll lightly to make a circle (width of which should never go less than 1/8th inch). Sprinkle with flour while rolling, whenever necessary.
  9. Heat a cooking pan/ griddle to medium-high heat and place a freshly rolled pita onto it.
  10. Wait till you see bubbles on the surface, and then flip it to another side.
  11. Now it will start puffing up. Lightly press bulging pita on all sides to make sure it gets baked uniformly.
  12. Flip more than once to get those nice brown spots on both the sides of flatbread.
  13. Remove from the pan and let it cool on rack
  14. Now, conquering the temptation to devour this soft bread right away, turn your attention to rest of the pitas to roll and bake 🙂

After cracking this perfect recipe for homemade pitas, the possibilities to use it are endless. We have so far enjoyed these with hummus, herbed yogurt dips, grilled tempeh, sautéed vegetables, and curries… oh and even, guacamole once. So go ahead and make your combos, with no further doubts!

Advertisements

Instant raagi dosa / Red millet pancake

dsc_1273.jpg

Summer brought rather busy days… travel, writing, meetups, driving lessons… a flurry of activities that kept me away from the blog. I cooked, clicked photos, made notes, but somehow did not find the respite to post those recipes. Today though, I was keen to make an extra effort and write about a new experiment. After all, blogging helps me as well. It is like a journal, which I can leaf through to revisit old recipes.

Today’s post is on instant raagi dosa i.e. pancake of red millet flour. Ideally, dosa (a South Indian pancake preparation) is made of naturally fermented batters of grains and lentils, which requires planning of at least a day ahead. Now and then, though, one gets an impromptu craving to enjoy it. At such times, the pancake tricks come handy. Using some of those, I made this vegan raagi dosa. I used a mix of fruit salt and lemon juice (instead of yogurt or buttermilk) to get the fluffy texture and savory taste.

INSTANT RAAGI DOSA / RED MILLET  PANCAKE

Makes six pancakes

Ingredients:

2 cups of raagi (red/ finger millet) flour
1/2 cup besan (gram flour)
Juice of half a lemon
2-3 green chilli peppers
1 inch piece of ginger
Handful of coriander leaves
salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon ajwain/ carom seeds (optional)
2-3 teaspoon of oil
2 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon plain fruit salt (can be substituted by pinches of baking powder)

Method:

  1. In a bowl, combine raagi flour, besan, turmeric powder, oil, ajwain seeds.
  2. Blend together green chillies, ginger, coriander, salt, lemon juice, and a cup of water.
  3. Add this blend slowly to the flour bowl and mix thoroughly, taking care of not to form any lumps.
  4. Add one more cup of water to make a thin batter of pancake.
  5. Just before, taking out the dosas, add fruit salt and mix it with the batter.
  6. Apply a thin coat of cooking oil on a non-stick pan and heat it.
  7. Pour a ladle or two of the batter on heated pan, swirl it to make a round-shaped pancake.
  8. Let the bubbles appear, and cover pan with a lid till the dosa is done.
  9. Take it off the pan and let cool on rack.

It can be served with any side of a curry or stir-fry. Today for instance, we had with a simple warm curried salad of greens.

Radish Parantha/ Stuffed flatbread

dsc_0574.jpg

Happiness is… You must have come across this series of web-comics which enumerates the little things in life that bring happiness. My today’s addition to it would be- Happiness is learning to make the food you like. Thankfully, I like lots of food from different places, so learning to make it (one at a time) means happiness abounds 🙂

Parantha or the stuffed flatbread is one of the most popular foods of North India. It is made and served across homes, fancy restaurant chains, and street food joints. It becomes a part of breakfasts, dinners, travel tiffins. Although I have always liked it, it was after coming to Delhi, my love for parantha blossomed. While I even enjoyed paranthas in our University canteen, I knew that the best ones were made by the home cooks, courtesy to kind local friends, who treated me with these delicacies…

However, learning to make parantha seemed daunting at first. I was fairly new in the field of cooking and the idea of rolling a flatbread with stuffing within seemed too difficult. Might I add, that I had hardly made even a regular flatbread, such as roti, before. Thankfully, my cravings for parantha made me overcome my fears. As usual, the practice helps and now I am pretty confident to plan paranthas on the menu, whenever my partner or I fancy it.

This time, I used the stuffing of white radish. But really, the choices for parantha stuffing are plenty, such as potatoes, cauliflower, paneer (cottage cheese), or minced meats.

RADDISH PARANTHA/ STUFFED FLATBREAD

Makes 6 paranthas

Ingredients:

1 medium sized white radish
2 cups of whole wheat flour, plus some more for rolling the flatbreads
2 tbspoons of oil, plus some more for roasting
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon of carom seeds
1/2 teaspoon of sumac (optional)
1 cup water (if required)
Pinch of asafoetida
Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Cut radish into thin shreds, using mandolin/ slicer.
  2. Sprinkle salt over it, mix, and keep aside for about 15 minutes.
  3. After 15 minutes, squeeze the shredded radish and transfer it into another bowl.
  4. You can use the salty water of the radish to knead the dough. Measure it to 1 cup (add water, if required).
  5. In this water, add flour and oil.
  6. Knead to make a soft but non-sticky and pliant ball of dough. Cover and keep aside for 15 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, fluff the squeezed radish with a fork. Add turmeric, chilli powder, carom seeds, sumac, asafoetida to it. Adjust salt, if necessary. Mix properly. This would make the stuffing into the parantha.
  8. After standing time, divide the dough into 6 equally sized balls.
  9. Take a dough ball onto the platform. Sprinkle it with the loose flour.
  10. Roll into a small disk of about 3-4 inches diameter.
  11. Place about a tablespoon full of stuffing into the center.
  12. Bring all the sides of bread disk together above the center (thus, enclosing the stuffing into a pouch) and seal them by applying pressure with your fingers.
  13. Now hold this pouch and shape it back into a shape of ball, that could be rolled further.
  14. Sprinkle this again with a flour and start rolling gently with pin, applying equal pressure everywhere.
  15. As you roll on, you would start noticing the stuffing from within the dough covering that is getting thinner. Roll alternatively from both the sides. Intermittent sprinkling with loose flour (onto the parantha, as well as on the platform) will help handling the parantha.
  16. Try to roll in such a way that the stuffing spreads equally along the entire parantha. If while doing this, you achieve a perfect round shape, pat yourself. But if you don’t, then there is no need to despair. Uniform spreading of the parantha is more important for its taste. Roll till the parantha is about of width 1/8 inch.
  17. Heat a non-stick/ cast-iron griddle on a medium heat. Coat it with oil.
  18. Transfer the parantha onto the griddle. Roast from one side, till the light brown spots appear. Apply a thin coat of oil onto the parantha, and flip it to be roasted from another side.
  19. You can repeat the  above step to make sure that the parantha is roasted properly from both the sides.
  20. Serve the hot parantha with any vegetable side or pickles or yogurt, or with a fresh tangy salad of tomato and onion, as we did.