The blog of a doctor, a baker, a wisdom tooth taker!
Having time on my hands to potter at home on a more or less daily basis at the mo is a joy I’ve been dreaming of for years. I’m drinking up every drop of it and trying to make the most of each and every day I get to spend like this as its my greatest dream – to be home with those I love around me. So, a couple of days ago with a fridge full of veggies destined to become a curry as well as an ever growing pile of cookbooks to cook from, I turned to perhaps the most beautiful of my collection – Warm Bread & Honey Cake, a generous and treasured gift from Carrie over at The Patterned Plate. As it is a book of beauty which deserves time to pour over each and every ethnically aesthetically pleasing page and recipe, I felt I couldn’t progress beyond the first chapter on Indian flatbreads. So I selected these dhal roti on the basis of what my cupboards could offer me.
A simple non-yeasted dough was made essentially by stirring together ingredients then leaving the dough to rest rather than prove. It’s remarkable to me the difference in texture this act achieves even in the absence of the wee powerhouses that are (in my kitchen) dried yeast! The liquid quotient has time to permeate each and every grain of flour which welcomes it with big fluffy open arms and it swells to produce the most soft dough you can imagine, with elasticity develop by a cursory knead. You’ll know when to stop as the texture suddenly changes beneath your oiled hand and it springs to life.
What turns this simple roti or you may know them as chapatti into something a but more special is the addition of a simple but spiced dhal purée into the middle of each portioned off ball of dough. Simply boil off some split peas until tender (mine took 40 minutes) then blitz to mix with a mix of turmeric, cumin, coriander, chilli and optional garam masala then mix in a splash of oil. Something I will do next time is reserve the cooking liquor from the peas as my mix was a tad dry after Barney the Bamix had had his wicked way with them! . (Yes, many of my foodie friends think I’m mental for naming my kitchen appliances but I just don’t care, lol!
Now, Indian mamas across the world would have taken delight in whacking my clumsy hands as a few (well, let’s be honest now – all!) of the 6 breads had a wee tear or two in the delicate dough once patted out with the filling inside them. My distant Pakistani side of my maternal family would be shaking their heads in shame! However, as Gaitri explains, such perfection takes time and it is not as if I’m the newest daughter in law in a large Indian family living together under one roof, whom would automatically be expected to produce perfect roti twice daily for the whole family! Although, I could quite happily make the best of a life like that!
To go with these extremely flaky and tender breads, I made a saucy little number out of Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Easy simply entitled “mushrooms and chickpeas”. I had to make use of the last of my store bought hot & spicy mango chutney and no Indian meal is complete to me without a dollop of dahi (plain yogurt) to quench the flames of my “there’s no such thing as too much chilli” habit!
So there we have it, my first of many recipes from WB&HC. Watch this space as the exotically unfamiliar recipes that this book holds will be documented here in due course. For now, I’m enjoying daydreaming my way through each and every chapter, learning so much about the history of each creation before I commit to the next recipe to try. In fact, on these grey and rainy day at home, I can’t think of a book I’d rather curl up with to whisk me away to foreign lands filled with colour, life, love, history and good food. Thank you lovely Carrie – you made my day when I collected this book from my post office depot!
Get the recipe Dal Roti.
And read some more about what Carrie has made of this book do far here – she may have had a years or so’s head start on me but I do plan on catching her up fast!