Thursday, January 30, 2014

Makke ki Masala Poori (Masala Poori made with Maize Flour)

Makke ka aata (Maize flour) also called masa here is awesome to make makke ki roti along with some nice sarson ka saag or even baingan bharta. I can have hot hot makke ki roti with a dollop of ghee and gur (jaggery) - its just heaven.
Yesterday, we made makke ki masala pooris for snacks along with some adrakwali chai (Ginger tea). It was amazing on this cold and wintery day. 


2 cups makke ka atta (maize flour)
1/4 cup wheat flour
salt to taste
water to knead
1/4 teaspoon ajwain (carom seeds)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons kasuri methi (crushed)
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1 cup oil for frying


dry roast the ajwain, cumin and fennel seeds untill a nice aroma fills the kitchen. Cool and grind to a fine/coarse powder in a spice grinder. Mix in the chili powder, turmeric powder, asafoetida, kasuri methi and salt into the ground spices and mix well. Add this to the mixture of maize and wheat flour and mix well. check for salt, add more if needed. Add enough water to make a pliable dough - the dough should not be soft. It will look like chappati dough, but will not feel as glutenous.  make small round balls o this dough to make pooris.
Heat the oil in a karahi - the heat is kept as a medium high I used a tortilla press (you can even use the poori press you get in India). I used a ziploc bag - I gut it so as to seperate the two sides. Place one plastic sheet on the bottom round of the tortilla press. Now place a dough ball on it and place the other plastic sheet on top. Now cover the tortilla press and press the lever to make a round  flat poori shape.  Carefully remove it with your fingers (very lightly). Put it in the oil and fry till it puffs up - now carefully turn it over and let the other side get a golden brown. Remove on a plate lined with a paper towel (tissue paper).
Savor with pickle, ginger chai - I am sure this will taste good with saag and the bharta too.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bialys - We Knead to Bake # 5

Bread No. 5 in the We Knead to Bake project was Bialys. I had tasted this bread at a friends place. She had bought them at a store bakery. We had it lightly toasted with some butter and it was accompanied by ginger tea. So when Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen said we were going to be baking Bialys......... I was very happy.
We Knead to Bake with bread no. 5 for the month of May in the year 2013 - yes, I am late in posting the recipe here. I had cooked quite a few things last year and baked a few things too. And also was a regular with the we knead to bake group. However, never got to posing the recipes here on the blog. Blame my health and the feeling of just lazing and doing nothing that had taken over my whole life last year.
Well - I am much better now and will be posting all the recipes to the food and to the baked goodies in the coming days.
The Bialys maybe thought of as a cousin to a Bagel but is quite different from it. For one thing, a Bialy is baked whereas a Bagel is boiled and then baked. A Bialy is round with a depressed middle, not a hole, and typically filled with cooked onions and sometimes poppy seeds. So it is not shiny on the outside with largish puffy bubbles on the inside. A good Bialy should have a springy soft crumb and a chewy and floury crust. A lot of people slather Bialys with butter or cream cheese but they are also nice as they are. Bialys are best when eaten within 5 to 6 hours of making them.
The name Bialy comes from Bialystocker Kuchen which translates as “bread from Bialystok” which is in Poland. Apparently, Bialys are rarely seen or made in Bialystock these days. In the days when there used to be Bialys in Bialystock, it seems the rich Jews ate Bialys with their meals, while the Bialys were the whole meal for the poorer Jews. In the early 1900s, many Eastern Eurpoeans, including the Polish, immigrated to the US and settled down in New York. Naturally, they also brought their Bialy making skills with them and that is how the New York Bialy became famous.
What lends Bialys their signature chewiness is the use of flour that is high in gluten. It is suggested to use bread flour if you can find it. Otherwise use all-purpose flour and add 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten (for the 3 cups).  If you cannot find bread flour nor vital wheat gluten, go ahead and make it with plain flour. You’ll still have very nice Bialys that are slightly softer.
One way to make them slightly chewier: just refrigerate the dough overnight after the first rise. The next day, take the dough out and keep it at room temperature for about half an hour. Then shape the rolls and proceed with the recipe. These Bialys are on the softer side so do not over bake them or they will dry out and become tough.
Bialys usually have a thin layer of caramelised onions and poppy seeds. I caramelized my onions with a hint or rosemary and some balsamic vinegar and they tasted yum.
This recipe is adapted from King Arthur Flour


For the dough

1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cup warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour (use bread flour if you can find it or all-purpose flour + 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten)
1 tsp salt
Milk for brushing the dough

For the Onion Filling

1 tbsp oil
3 medium onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoon dried rosemary (crushed)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste


Make the dough first. If you are using bread flour or vital wheat gluten, then your dough will be tougher to knead so if you have a machine you can use, go ahead and use it. If you’re doing this by hand, just adapt the instructions to that.
Put the yeast, sugar, salt and flour in the food processor bowl. Pulse a couple of times to mix and then add the warm water in a steady stream. Knead until the dough comes together as a mass and then let the dough rest for 10 minutes. This will help the dough absorb water. Knead again, adding a little more water or flour (not too much) if you need it, until your dough is smooth and elastic but not sticky.
Shape it into a ball and put it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough till it is well coated. Cover and let it rise till about double. This should take about 2 hours. If you’re not making the Bialys right away, you can refrigerate the dough overnight at this point. When ready to make them, keep the dough at room temperature for about half an hour and then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
In the meanwhile, make the filling. Heat the oil in a pan add the onions, and sauté over low to medium heat. Sprinkle a little salt and continue sautéing until they become soft and turn golden brown in color. Add the rosemary and the balsamic vinegar and saute for another 3 to 4 minutes. Keep the caramelized onions aside to cool.
Sprinkle your work surface lightly with flour and place the dough on it. Divide it into 8 equal pieces and shape each one into a roll by flattening it and then pinching the ends together to form a smooth ball. (See this video for shaping the rolls) Place the rolls on a lightly greased baking sheet and cover them with a towel. Let them rise for about one hour (about  1 1/2 to 2 hours for refrigerated dough)  till pressing with a finger on the top leaves a dent.
Work on one piece at a time, while you keep the others covered so they don’t dry out. When the rolls are ready, pick them up one at a time and using your fingers, form the depression in the middle. Hold the roll like a steering wheel with your thumbs in the middle and your fingers around the edges. Pinch the dough between your thumb and fingers, rotating as you go and gradually making the depression wider without actually poking a hole through.
Remember not to press on the edges, or they will flatten out. Once shaped, you should have a depression about 3” in diameter with 1” of puffy dough around the edge, so your Bialy should be about 4” to 5” in diameter. Prick the centre of the Bialy with a fork so the centre doesn’t rise when baking.
Place the shaped dough on a parchment lined (or greased) baking tray leaving about 2 inches space between them. Place the caramelised onion filling in the depressions of each Bialy. Brush the outer dough circle with milk.
Bake the Bialys at 230C (450F) for about 15 minutes till they’re golden brown in colour. Cool them on a rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. This recipe makes 8 largish Bialys.

This is a video on how to shape the Bialys - How to shape Bialy
This is a video on suggestions to eat a Bialy - How to eat a Bialy

Monday, January 6, 2014

Banana Bread - with All Purpose Flour, Semolina & Coconut

I buy only 6 bananas every week - just because I need to give it to my kiddo as they are good and healthy. However, she ends up eating only 3 to 4 of them in the entire week and I have about 2 of them always left out there and they look so spotty that nobody wants to eat them.
I end up making banana fritters, banana appes, sometimes even sheera, tried them pancakes too and ofcorse the ever faithful banana bread.
I was kinda bored of the normal banana bread I bake almost always - so, decided to make it different today. Well, added some semolina to give it a bite and some coconut for added flavor and also substituted the vanilla for to allspice powder. Well, it turned out decent and we liked it.


1 cup all purpose flour - you could use whole wheat flour too or make it 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 APF
1/2 cup semolina
1 cup packed sugar - you could even use brown sugar
1/4 cup coconut powder/flakes (unsweetened)
2 ripe bananas
1/3 cup butter/ghee/vegetable oil
1 teaspoon allspice powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder


Mix the flour, semolina, coconut powder/flakes, baking powder, salt and allspice powder and mix well. In a mixing bowl, mash the bananas and then add the butter/ghee/oil along with the sugar and mix well. Now add the dry ingredients and fold them all together. Pour this well incorporated mixture into a greased baking dish/loaf pan (I used a 9X5 loaf pan) and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
You could also make also make cupcakes - they would bake in about 15 to 20 minutes. Makes 12 of them.
This cake is a little denser compared to a banana bread that is all made with APF.

Sichuan Pepper Chicken

After moving to the US............. I was reminded of all the amazing food back home in India. I learnt how to cook most of the food that we wanted to eat by asking mom, reading books, the internet and sometimes by just remembering the taste and recalling the ingredients.
One such spice was the 'Sichuan Pepper' also called as 'Teppal' or 'Triphal' in Konkai & Marathi respectively. However, I never got hold of this in the US. Craved for the fish curry with this spice. Finally got a hold of it on the amazon store and bought the bottle.  It smells like the teppal back home - but these are small in size and a little red in color too. But, they are still the same and I am glad to have my hands on it now. Here is the link - Ajika-Sichuan-Peppercorns
Well - the day we got this bottle, we wanted to use it. We had no fish at home and hence fish curry was out of question. Well, the name is sichuan pepper - which is so southeast Asian. Well, we decided to make a nice chili chicken type dish - only with no chilies but with the spice in the bottle. Well, it turned out quite nice. We loved it and this dish is a keeper now.


4 boneless skinless chicken thighs - cut into bite size pieces
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce - you can use any soy sauce you have
3 tablespoons peanut oil - again, you can use any oil of your chocie (just do not use extravirgin olive oil)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt - you can skip salt if you want as the soy sauce has salt in it.
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 teaspoons sichuan pepper - crushed - I coarsely powdered mine in the spice/coffee grinder
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon grated garlic
1 bunch spring onions/scallions - chopped
1/4 teaspoon chili powder - you can skip it if you do not want this spice.
1/4 teaspoon crushed black pepper
1/2 cup oil for frying


Add the soy sauce, sugar, salt, chilli powder, black pepper powder and 1 teaspoon crushed sichuan pepper in a bowl and mix well. Add the chicken pieces and coat each piece with the marinade. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Heat the 1/2 cup oil in a wok/karahi. Add the cornstarch to the marinated chicken and coat all pieces well. Now fry the chicken untill it gets cooked fully, about 7 to 10 minutes. I fried the chicken in 2 batches. Remove the chicken onto a plate.
Let the oil cool - remove it into a bottle if you wish to use it once again or you can discard it.
In the same wok add the 3 tablespoons of peanut oil (if you wish you can use 3 tablespoons of the oil the chicken was fried in too). When the oil gets hot, add the ginger and garlic and the white portion of the chopped spring onions/scallions and saute for about 30 second - be careful not to burn the garlic. Bring the heat to medium and add the balance 2 teaspoons of crushed sichuan pepper and mix well. Add the fried chicken and coat it well with the ginger, garlic and scallion mixture. Remove into a serving dish and garnish with the green part of the spring onion/scallions.
This could be served as a starter or it could be teamed with some ginger and egg fried rice as a full meal (thats how we had it)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...