spelt skillet naan

spelt skillet naan

Naan, is probably the most popular menu item requested at my home whenever I invite guests over for an Indian meal. It has all the good qualities of a flatbread bread which in my opinion are: be able to sop up and grab curries, gravies and sauces or even morsels of vegetables or meat. I like my naans to be soft and tender in texture and blistered for that delicious caramelized flavor. There is also something wonderful to be said about preparing your own bread at home, be it in an oven or in a skillet. As the heat hits the dough, it brings about the warm nutty flavors of the grain, lending an aromatic sweetness to the air which makes it simply perfect. There are so many different kinds of wonderful flatbreads that are cooked in different cultures and hopefully, I will have tried my hand at making each and every one of them by some point in my life! 

spelt skillet naan

I've shared a few naan recipes here in the past and using my skillet still remains my favorite way to prepare them. This new version uses spelt flour, an ancient ancestor of modern day wheat. The addition of spelt to this recipe adds fiber and nutrients making these traditional Indian flatbreads a healthier option. Stick with the ratios for the two flours, here to get a soft naan. I would highly recommend using a food scale to weigh the flours, having a simple, good quality, reliable scale is really worth the investment. 

nigella and flour

In this recipe, I use a combination of sea-salt crystals and nigella seeds to season the naan. Alternatively, you can also use my cilantro-garlic butter seasoning to flavor the naans. It is completely up to you! This basic naan recipe also works well when you want to stuff the naans with vegetables like I did previously in these pumpkin naans. To cook the naans on the skillet, you can use either vegetable or melted butter, both work great and each gives it's own unique flavor to the bread.

spelt skillet naan with nigella

spelt skillet naan

yields : 12 naans

ingredients

9 1/4 ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour + a little extra flour for rolling out the naans
9 1/4 ounces (2 cups minus 2 tablespoons) spelt flour 
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups plain nonfat Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 
1/2 cup vegetable oil (canola oil) or melted butter for cooking the naans (you may end up using less of either to cook the naans)
1/4 cup sea salt crystals 
1/4 cup nigella seeds

1. Sift the 9 1/4 ounces of all-purpose and spelt flours, salt and sugar together in a bowl. Add any grain bits that might be left behind back into the flour. Do this three times.
2. Add the sifted flour, eggs, yogurt, and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough blade attachment, combine the ingredients completely and mix on low speed until it comes together to form a ball of dough. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently knead the dough in the same bowl to form a ball. Brush the one tablespoon of oil over the dough, cover the dough with cling film and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for at least 4 hours . 
3. Place the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface and divide it into 12 equal parts using a knife or a pastry scraper. The dough will be slightly elastic. Take one part and roll it into a ball with your hands. Stretch the dough into a tear-drop shape by pulling it gently in one direction and using the base of your palm to hold it down at the opposite end. Each stretched out naan should not be too thin or it will tear. Sprinkle a little bit of the nigella seeds and sea salt over the surface of the naan (you can use as little or as much as you want with the nigella and salt, I personally tend to use less salt). Press the seeds and salt crystals into the naan by rolling the seasoned surface lightly with a rolling pin.
4. Heat a skillet with a tight fitting lid on a high flame, add one  teaspoon of oil and spread the oil by rotating the skillet with your hand. As soon as the oil is heat, slap the bottom surface (unseasoned side) of the naan directly on to the skillet. Cover the skillet immediately with the lid. This seals the steam in which is necessary to cook the naan and give it its characteristic blistered appearance. Drizzle another teaspoon of vegetable oil over the naan. After about 3-4 minutes, flip the naan and reduce the flame to a medium and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove the hot naan and keep it covered between a layer of clean cloth or paper towels to absorb the steam. Serve hot/warm. Naan is best eaten the day it is prepared, however if you need to store them, wrap the flatbread between clean kitchen paper towel sheets and store in an airtight gallon ziploc bag. 

edamame-stuffed fried indian bread

Edamame-stuffed fried indian bread

Today being Diwali, the day when people in India celebrate the festival of lights, I thought I'd keep my post traditional but different. Diwali is a Hindu festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil and the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi is worshipped to bring prosperity and fortune to families. Diwali is by far, one of the most gorgeous festivals in India, entire cities and towns are lit with oil and candle lamps and children celebrate with dazzling fireworks. Food is a huge part of this celebration and every sort of decadent dessert and meal is a part of this glorious occasion. As a kid, I was fortunate to have the best of both worlds when it came to Hindu and Christian holidays due to my parents, I remember the fireworks and the gifts but more than all of that the dinner has left an indelible mark in my memory. Huge elaborate meals were carefully planned and painstakingly prepared that everyone would sit down to enjoy and partake in laughter and fun conversation. 

Diyas

My initial thoughts centered around sharing an Indian dessert but then I said to myself my blog is all about being traditional yet non-traditional in every aspect just like me! I've been wanting to make these deep fried stuffed breads for a while that are also known as Kachoris. Kachoris are usually filled with a spicy lentil stuffing and are an extremely popular appetizer served at any celebration or event or even simply eaten as a snack with chai. The pastry crust of these breads is flaky yet light that makes them a fantastic treat for everyone alike. 

Edamame

Kachoris are so easy to make and you can practically fill them with almost anything you can think of. My version has a spicy edamame-filling that is delicious yet simple to prepare. For the edamame, I just boil the raw edamame in their pods, then peel and shell the beans out. You can serve them with my sweet tamarind chutney or my cilantro mint chutney or serve the kachoris with both. So have a happy and wonderful Diwali and remember to light a candle or lamp tonight. 

Edamame kachori


edamame-stuffed fried indian bread

yields: 10 individual kachoris

ingredients

3/4 cup (3 7/8 ounces) whole-wheat flour 
3/4 cup (3 5/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (canola)
1/2 cup chilled water
1 1/2 cup (7 3/4 ounces) edamame beans, cooked
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon salt
about 1/2 cup all purpose flour for dusting
vegetable oil for frying (canola)

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flours, salt and baking soda. Pour the oil and mix evenly with your hands for about 4 minutes until the flour has absorbed all the oil. The flour grains will get a fine crumb like texture. Add the chilled water and start to knead the flour until a smooth silky dough is formed. Cover this dough with cling film or a damp kitchen towel and let it rest in a cool place for at least 30 minutes.
2. In a food processor grind the edamame with the chili, cumin and salt to a coarse paste. Taste and season with more salt if desired. Keep aside.
3. Divide the rested dough into 10 equal balls about 1 inch in diameter.  Take one ball and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the ball out into a flat disc that is approximately 3 inches in diameter. Place about 1-1 1/2 teaspoons of the edamame filling in the center of the disc. Using your fingers, pull the edges over the filling and pinch to seal the open end. (This is similar to preparing stuffed wontons). Flatten the stuffed pastry between the palms of your hands taking care to prevent any cracks from forming. Repeat with the rest of the balls, dust lightly with flour and keep aside covered with a damp cloth until ready to fry. 
4. Heat enough oil in a deep fryer or wok on a medium-high flame. When the oil begins to smoke, carefully slide one pastry into the oil.  Press it gently with a slotted spoon for 10 seconds to help it puff up. Let the pastry cook on each side for at least 30 seconds or until evenly golden brown on each side. Remove the fried bread with a slotted spoon and place it on a plate or dish lined with a clean paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Repeat and continue with the rest of the breads. Serve hot with sweet tamarind chutney or cilantro mint chutney or both. 

pumpkin stuffed naans


Its nice to check something off your bucket list and this weekend I got the opportunity to put a check mark right next to paintball. I never got the chance to do this when I was a kid and now this dream has been completed.  I'll admit to being a little anxious about the bruises and marks that I had heard about. Honestly, its not that bad and it stung perhaps for a few seconds and I was fine! The only pain that lasts is that related to cleaning the paint of your clothes and the extra round of laundry added to the weekend. It was fun and exciting while we jumped and climbed through the woods to defend a UFO, and a castle.  


I think about food a bit too much. By the time I'm on my way to work, dinner is already on my mind and I wait anxiously till the day is over. The arrival of autumn brings in new produce to work with and I am excited. Excited about the delicious and colorful squashes and vegetables that will take over my kitchen table for the next few months. So here it is, something that has been at the back of my mind quite a while now, I just needed to wait for the pumpkins to arrive.


I used one of my earlier recipes for naans to prepare these stuffed breads. They are delicious and taste best when made fresh. They make a complete meal by themselves and you can serve them with a small side such as a plain cucumber and tomato salad, a chutney, or even some sort of relish. I prefer these with chilled plain unsweetened yogurt. If you want them to be a little hot, increase the amount of chili. Of course you can just skip the chili if you don't want them hot. I normally remove the seeds from the chili before I chop them because that is where most of the heat is concentrated in the pepper.


pumpkin stuffed naan

ingredients


pumpkin stuffing

1 small pumpkin (enough to get about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of pumpkin flesh)
2 cloves of garlic
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped red/green thai chili
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 tablespoon poppy seeds or nigella seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
melted butter or ghee for cooking the naans on the skillet

Slice the pumpkin into half, remove and discard the seeds and fibers. With the outer skin still on cut the pumpkin into wedges or cubes (about 1 inch think). Spread the pumpkin evenly onto a baking sheet and broil in an oven on high for 15 minutes till the flesh is blistered and the pumpkin is tender and soft but not mushy or cooked all the way. It is useful to place the baking sheet as close as possible to the broiler flame to ensure a good blistering of the flesh (The pumpkin will cook again once stuffed inside the naan, so there is no need to overcook at this stage).  Let the pumpkin cool to room temperature on the baking sheet. Scoop the flesh out and chop it fine and transfer it to a mixing bowl. Finely chop the cilantro, chili, and garlic and add this to the pumpkin. Toss in the chopped red onion, garam masala, salt, and pepper. 

preparing the naans

Follow the naan recipe, let the dough rise for 4 hour and prepare the dough balls as described in the original recipe. Take one ball at a time, with your finger make a small well in the center with your thumb and fill about 1 heaped tablespoon of the pumpkin filling. Seal the filling inside the dough ball (just like a dumpling) by bringing the sides of the dough to meet each other. Flatten the dough on a clean and lightly floured surface. With a rolling pin, flatten out the dough with a rolling pin that are about 1 centimeter thick. Some of the filling will come to the surface of the dough which is absolutely fine. Spread a teaspoon of melted butter on the surface of the naan and sprinkle a pinch or two of the poppy seeds. Transfer the naan onto a hot lightly greased (add 1/2 teaspoon melted butter to the skillet too before you add the naan) Now with the skillet on a high flame, slap the naan directly onto the surface. Cover the skillet immediately with a tight lid. This seals the steam in, which is necessary to cook the naan and give it its characteristic blistered appearance. After about 3-4 minutes, flip the bread and reduce the flame to a medium flame and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove the hot naan and keep on a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb the steam. Serve hot with cold  plain yogurt

naan and garlic naan


One of the most exciting things about my experience blogging has been hearing from people all over the place but a more humbling and gratifying experience is when fellow bloggers use your recipes and reinvent them. Olivia Lin at the Yummy Year Project recently reworked a previous post of mine on turkey based potato pockets into a delicious vegan potato cake. Olivia has a wonderful goal tied with her blog, she raises money via her blog to support the Ebongalethu Educare Center in South Africa. Do visit her blog if you get a chance.


The city's holiday decorations this year have been a bit less intense than previous. We went down to Union Station to check out their annual decorations but it now surrounded by massive constructions and renovations that are overwhelmingly intense. In the end we settled for walking around the neighborhood for a couple of minutes in the cold winter breeze.


The Old Post Office building was looking mighty majestic with its vibrant architecture and holiday wreaths.


All this cold weather has been pushing me towards making homemade warm breads. It was high time that I tried cooking up some traditional naans at home. This recipe is for the non-yeast based naans which makes it fast, quick, easy and fool proof. No need for a fancy "tandoor" or special grill, all you need is a skillet and a rolling pin. 


naan and garlic naan

ingredients

naan dough
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

garlic-cilantro butter

1 clove of garlic minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 stick of butter

making the naans

1. Knead all the ingredients together to form a ball of dough. Keep the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover the top with cling wrap to prevent a skin from from forming on the surface of the dough. Let the dough rest for at least 4 hours at room temperature. Make balls of the dough about 2-2 1/2 inches in diameter. 
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the naans in circular motion. While rolling out the dough do not use too much flour as it stretches and flattens. Stretch the dough into a tear drop shape by pulling it gently in one direction and using the base of your palm to hold it down at the opposite end. Each stretched out naan should not be too thin or it will tear. Heat a skillet on a high flame and slap the naan directly on to the surface. Cover the skillet immediately with a tight lid. This seals the steam in which is necessary to cook the naan and give it its characteristic blistered appearance. After about 3-4 minutes, flip the naan and reduce the flame to a medium and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove the hot naan and keep on a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb the steam. Serve hot. 

for garlic naans
Blend the ingredients together for the garlic-cilantro butter. Spread about 1/2 teaspoon of the butter with a spoon evenly on the surface of a fresh hot garlic naan that is straight off the skillet. Serve hot.


quick pumpkin bread


One cold week done and another one to board. However, the extra hour this weekend as the clock is set back by an hour will be happily received. Extra sleep is always, always good. This was a bad week of getting out here to post or much less get any time to read anything. Too much to do and too little time however, I did get to try this new recipe for a quick pumpkin bread. What started out as an attempt to bake pumpkin cookies ended up as a fast and quick way to a quick loaf of pumpkin bread. This I realize is my third pumpkin post, back-to-back. but such a delicious bread that had to be shared. I should be back to more posting this week.



quick pumpkin bread

servings: 1 regular loaf tin
ingredients

3/4 cup shredded roasted pumpkin
1/4 cup raisins
2/3 cup plain flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2  teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground clove
a pinch of salt
vegetable oil spray (canola)
a little flour for dusting the pan

1.Preheat the oven to 350F. 
2. Whisk all the liquid ingredients together and keep aside. Add the raisins and the pumpkin into the liquid mixture. 
3. In another bowl whisk all the dry ingredients together. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients with constant whisking at a medium speed. 
4. Grease a baking tin/ loaf pan with vegetable oil or an oil spray and then sprinkle with flour to coat the dish. Pour the batter into the greased dish and bake for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a knife comes out clean from the center. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 20 minutes at room temperature, then remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely to room temperature on a wire rack.

pumpkin bread pudding


With midterms knocked out, my second monster to battle this week (that spills over into next week), is another thesis assignment. Regressions, numbers and a buddy named STATA will be my companions for quite a while.



After an astoundingly chilly night with snow, sleet and rain, we ventured out to spend the day at Roosevelt Island. I don't think I have ever seen snow in October, it feels like fall never even dropped by to say hi.We had a nice sunny day today so a picnic by the G.W. parkway seemed appropriate.


We relaxed, Snoopy sniffed around. The Potomac gently billowed a cool air under the bright sun which made this a great day to be outdoors.Oddly enough, for all the years that we have lived in D.C., we have never visited the island. The central monument inside the island is certainly a must-see and the little marsh trail around is equally breathtaking.


What can be more fun, warm and hearty than a bread pudding, well in my opinion a roasted pumpkin bread pudding! After my recent excursion to the neighboring pumpkin land around the Capitol, I felt compelled to work on a pumpkin flavored bread pudding recipe for my first post, post midterms. I like my bread puddings to be mildly sweet but then drizzled with warm and sticky sweet whiskey sauce. However, this recipe made me change my tune a little, a new wine reduction sauce to replace the traditional whiskey sauce with the creamy orange pudding enmeshed with toasty bread made this a recipe that must be shared.


I flipped the ingredients traditionally used in preparing bread pudding without compromising on taste and quality. There exist a fee good tricks to any good bread pudding is the right type of bread that is correctly toasted. Both sourdough and Challah bread go well with this recipe. I used Challah because I think it is divinely delicious in bread pudding. I normally let the bread soak in the egg mixture for at least in an hour in the refrigerator to let the egg get completely. Baking bread pudding in a water bath ensures that every end is cooked evenly and a nice crust. I use a rectangular pan a little larger than my baking dish filled with tap water. The eggs in the mixture do not overcook and get rubbery this way. Give the mulled red wine sauce a shot which has the perfect complementary taste to the pumpkin and the fall spices in it.


P.S. This also made the perfect picnic snack for our walk today....


pumpkin bread pudding

serves: 12 individuals
ingredients

Bread Pudding

4 cups Challah bread, chopped and cubed
1/2 cup sugar
6 eggs
6 cups skim milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon dried ginger powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon powder

1/2 stick butter melted

1/2 cup packed dried raisins or sultanas soaked in dark rum for at least 1 day 

1. Toast the bread cubes in an oven at 375F for 10 minutes in an even single layer till they get golden brown. Remove and keep aside to cool. 
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the sugar and eggs, followed by the milk, the pumpkin puree, salt, and spices. In a rectangular baking pan (about 9*10 inch rectangular pan), brush the bottom of the pan with about half of the melted butter and then spread the toasted bread cubes in a layer. 
3. Pour the entire liquid mixture on the bread and using a spatula gently, firmly press the bread down. Cover the open surface of the pan with cling film and keep the pan in the refrigerator for 1 hour. 
4. After the refrigeration, sprinkle the raisins and drizzle the pan with the remaining melted butter.
5. Bake for one hour at 375F in a water bath till pudding is firm (or till a knife comes out clean from the center). Allow the pudding to cool to room temperature in the pan and the chill for about an hour or two before serving. (Note: I sometimes like to eat bread pudding warm but the sauce cool, its just a matter of preference and taste which is the best part of this recipe)

Sweet Mulled Red Wine Sauce

1/4 cup sugar
2 cups red wine (Shiraz)
1 star anise
1 stick of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger powder
2 tablespoons dried and chopped orange peels

1. In a thick bottomed saucepan, add all the ingredients with the wine and bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally till the wine reduces to a thick sauce (about 1/2 of the original liquid volume should evaporate). 
2. Strain the reduction through a sieve and discard the solids. Drizzle the reserve liquid, either hot or cold on each slice of bread pudding before serving.