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jokhm

Indian Breads

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I have a question for the experts (since I am not one) - I am planning an East Indian dinner for 15-20 people in a few weeks. I haven't got the menu set in stone yet (suggestions are welcome), but will serve it buffet style , with tables set up to eat at on the lawn. I am wondering about breads.

Please, please, I don't want to be rude, but 'East Indian' - in the sense that I think you are using - is a completely crap term. I know its used in the US to distinguish Indian dishes from West Indian dishes, but I think on egullet.com at least one could be entitled not to see it.

As the original, I think Indian dishes should just be called 'Indian', with 'West Indian' for dishes from the West Indies. Ideally of course you should clarify it further and say North Indian, if you're talking about the generic Indian food mostly eaten in the US, or South Indian or East Indian if that happens to be what you are serving (I suppose even more ideally, you should stick to the particular names like Malayali or Bengali, but a certain amount of regional interplay is acceptable, I think).

And yes, I see where the objection will be coming from - what about food from West India like Maharashtrian, Gujarati, Goan, etc. Well, I think in that case we could agree to say not West Indian, but Western Indian (lets forget that that term could probably be applied to lots of the Indian food one gets in the West (UK/US), but not in India like chicken tikka masala).

The reason one needs to be specific is that there really is something called East Indian food which, _very_ confusingly, is made in West India, in Bombay and the region immediately around it. Its the cooking of the local Christian community, mostly descendents of converts made first by the Portuguese when they owned Bombay, and then the British after they received it as part of Catherine of Braganza's dowry.

For a long time this community just called itself Christian, until Bombay's economic boom in the 19th century (because of the American Civil War, how do you like that connection?) started attracting Goan Christians to the city. Not particularly pleased at this influx, the local Christians decided to rechristen themselves and, defying any geographical logic, chose to call themselves 'East Indians' as a rather dubious way to show their loyalty to the British East India company.

The food is distinguished from Goan cooking through several ways -less use of toddy vinegar or specifically Goan flavourings like triphala berries. Its slightly blander, reflecting the British influence rather than the undiluted Portuguese influence in Goa. What its best known for though is bottle masala - a spice mixture made from over 12-15 different local spices, which are dried and ground once every year and stored in old beer bottles (hence the name). its great stuff, savoury, but not hot and if that is indeed what you're using, my grovelling apologies. But otherwise, please just stick with Indian,

Vikram

PS: And as far as your bread query goes, parathas store and heat up quite well because of the fat that goes into making them.

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After the last, very informative post I would be curious to learn what forever_young_ca had in mind with respect to an East Indian spread.


Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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Please, please, I don't want to be rude, but 'East Indian' - in the sense that I think you are using - is a completely crap term. I know its used in the US to distinguish Indian dishes from West Indian dishes, but I think on egullet.com at least one could be entitled not to see it.

I did not mean to be rude, sorry if I offended. Being from Vancouver, Canada, the term "East Indian" is commonly used to distinguish from our west coast natives. I was simply using the lexicon that I am used to and that is accepted by everyone where I live.

Thank you for your suggestions regarding parathas. I have tried rewarming them. However, I did find that they developed a greasy texture that they did not have when they were fresh. They also tasted slightly "doughy" to me. Perhaps I did something wrong? :blink:


Life is short, eat dessert first

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forever young canada,

regarding your parathas.

Since you are cooking for only 15-20 people you will only need about 10 parathas or so, as I am sure will also have some rice dish for your guests. Also usually after appetizers, 10 parathats is all that I think you will need.

Here is a techique which has worked well for me.

Roll out your layered paratha and cook it on a gentle tawa or griddle. Cook it only till the dough changes color. You want to make sure the dough is cooked but you do not want to brown your paratha. Remove and save. Tip.Do not stack right away on each other but do so only after you have air cooled them.

You can do these pathathas days in advance. Refrigerate them or freeze them in a freezer bag.

You can finish them just when you want to serve them. there are two ways...

1. Heat them on a tawa/griddle when they begin to color fry with a little butter or oil.

2. Finish cooking them on a gas flame flipping them with a tong. Remove when browned ( to the extent YOU like them) baste with a little butter and squish them a bit to open out the layers. Your paratha will be almost as if it came out of a tandoor. If you like you can also sprinke some dried powdered mint on your paratha.

Well have a fun party and save some leftovers for me.


Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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Thanks BBhasin - I think I stacked them when warm and made them go soggy.

I must get to work now, but will post some tentative thoughts on my menu tonight. I would really appreciated any help and/or suggestions.

Thank you for your interest in my post. I have been going through my limited selection of cookbooks - several M. Jaffery, Monica B., and a few other miscellanouse bits and pieces. I have also been going through the various receipes on this thread to get some ideas. As I said before, I am not an expert but have cooked and enjoyed eating Indian food for about 30 years. My first exposure was through a boyfriend that was from the Punjab while I was in University - yes I just dated myself ! :biggrin: I have a few receipes from those days as well. I have been fortunate enough to visit India a few times over the years as well.

Because of the large number of people I was thinking of serving it buffet style - with some stand up appies to start.

More details tonight. Please do not be toooooooooo hard on me if I show my ignorance on the subject. I know this is a very sophisticated group in this forum, but I would love to learn from the experts! :smile:


Life is short, eat dessert first

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An Indian friend of mine from New York who was passing through Bombay last night told me that its quite easy to get frozen uncooked parottas, the divinely flaky Kerala version of parathas, in Indian shops in NY. She said that all you need to do is put them on a hot griddle, flip after a point and you'll have wonderful, although hugely calorific, parottas. Just before leaving for India she had made a big batch of beef curry and got a stack of parottas and left them for her husband to work his way through until she returned. Has anyone on this list tried this?

Vikram

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BBhasin - I was thinking about your suggestions regarding my parathas. While they were delicious while fresh and warm they were disappointing when reheated. I think I did two things wrong - 1) I believe that I cooked them on too high a heat, thereby not quite cooking the flour 2) Stacking them while warm, causing them to go soggy. I will try your suggestions.

Thank you also for your interest in my menu. Unfortunately, due to unforseen personal circumstances, the dinner was cancelled yesterday. It will perhaps get revived at a later date.

This is my first experience on posting to this forum and I will hestitate to do so again. I am not going to participate in a debate on this, but I feel that I cannot let Vikram's reply go without comments. I posted an innocent question in a "food" forum using a terminology that is well accepted where I live. Vikram's response was unrelated to my question and based on certain incorrect assumptions about where I live and the background of the usage of the term "East Indian". Perhaps I am too sensitive, but I thought the post was vitriolic and unnecessary. I will continue to read the informative food related posts with interest and continue to cook and enjoy the recipes from this forum, but will certainly think twice about posting. Life is just too short! :sad:


Life is short, eat dessert first

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This is my first experience on posting to this forum and I will hestitate to do so again.  I am not going to participate in a debate on this, but I feel that I cannot let Vikram's reply go without comments.  I posted an innocent question in a "food" forum using a terminology that is well accepted where I live.  Vikram's response was unrelated to my question and based on certain incorrect assumptions about where I live and the background of the usage of the term "East Indian".  Perhaps I am too sensitive, but I thought the post was vitriolic and unnecessary.  I will continue to read the informative food related posts with interest and continue to cook and enjoy the recipes from this forum, but will certainly think twice about posting.  Life is just too short!    :sad:

I was saddened to read your post, forever_young_ca. I reflected upon it for a while about what I personally was doing on these forums? Conclusion... learning more about Indian cuisine from all the folks out there, sharing my personal knowlege and experiences and making friends ( met some wonderful people here) and enlightening the uninitiated and setting them straight about this wonderful cuisine ( to the extent I know). But on the other hand there were others who got under my skin by their attitude and irked me but they had great knowledge so I ignore their attitude and continue to benifit from their knowlege.

I don't like it when our friend Vikram puts down north Indian or punjabi cuisine or says that restaurants serving gustaba are 'crap'. But I find he is immensly well versed in Western and Southern Indian cuisine and I am grateful that he shares his knowlege on these forums.

So don't run away, there are a lot of wonderful folks here, like Suvir Saran, Monica, Prasad 2, to name a few, besides others I do not know yet.

I hope to see you around.


Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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I, too, was saddened to read your post, forever young. First, I honestly don't believe Vikram meant it in any way as a personal attack on you but as an informative explanation of why the term disturbs some people. I, too, find it necessary (and didn't even know it could be offensive!) to distinguish between East Indian and West Indian grocery stores - because, in fact, that is the way they advertise themselves in my locale. I, too, have felt very much that some posts aimed at me are insulting and demeaning but often, the very people who seem to belittle me, are so incredibly knowledgeable and, many times, provide me with information I simply could not get elsewhere. Stick around - post to your heart's content - I can assure you, if it seems you are seriously being personally attacked lots of posters will quickly come to your defence. Now I just accept that some of my teachers are grumpy but damn, they are good!

Anna N


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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BBhasin - I was thinking about your suggestions regarding my parathas.  While they were delicious while fresh and warm they were disappointing when reheated.  I think I did two things wrong - 1)  I believe that I cooked them on too high a heat, thereby not quite cooking the flour  2)  Stacking them while warm, causing them to go soggy.  I will try your suggestions.

Thank you also for your interest in my menu.  Unfortunately, due to unforseen personal circumstances, the dinner was cancelled yesterday.  It will perhaps get revived at a later date.

This is my first experience on posting to this forum and I will hestitate to do so again.  I am not going to participate in a debate on this, but I feel that I cannot let Vikram's reply go without comments.  I posted an innocent question in a "food" forum using a terminology that is well accepted where I live.  Vikram's response was unrelated to my question and based on certain incorrect assumptions about where I live and the background of the usage of the term "East Indian".  Perhaps I am too sensitive, but I thought the post was vitriolic and unnecessary.  I will continue to read the informative food related posts with interest and continue to cook and enjoy the recipes from this forum, but will certainly think twice about posting.  Life is just too short!    :sad:

:rolleyes:

How true, little knowledge is misleading.

Who do we blame for this? Without hesitation the colonials and the Imperialists.

And yes there is cause to be upset for having being told the truth, eh!

And yes what is well accepted is not a matter or Truth.

And yes there probably is no such thing as East Indian in the larger picture of things. The East Indian as Vikram pointed out, do exist and peacefully fish in Bombay.

And yes Vikram pleads not to use the term East Indian, not once but twice, having been regimented, the pleads come in so naturally.

And yes there is more to Indian foods than the Plain old Naan and Sag panner and the crappy foods that come out from North American Indian Restaurants.

And yes we never stood up determined, so our foods are called Curries

And yes Curry does not exist in India

And yes Curry does exist for the Colonials and the fabled East Indians

And yes, the menu in an Indian restaurant is always spiced up with Chef's own Creation and some mystic curry mix

And yes all this has nothing to do with foods but with identity

And yes some on this forum stand up and profess

And yes Baingan Bhurtha is termed as smoked Eggplant curry and RATATOUILLE is RATATOUILLE in India

And yes and yes and yes, there never was an option eh!

:rolleyes:

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I am not going to participate in a debate on this, but I feel that I cannot let Vikram's reply go without comments. I posted an innocent question in a "food" forum using a terminology that is well accepted where I live. Vikram's response was unrelated to my question and based on certain incorrect assumptions about where I live and the background of the usage of the term "East Indian". Perhaps I am too sensitive, but I thought the post was vitriolic and unnecessary. I will continue to read the informative food related posts with interest and continue to cook and enjoy the recipes from this forum, but will certainly think twice about posting. Life is just too short!

Please let me apologise if my post offended you - I certainly did NOT mean it as a personal attack in anyway. I guess my writing style, which is probably linked to my professional food writing style, does tend to the slightly acerbic and perhaps that carried onto this post, but I really don't see how that translates into 'vitriolic'. (And yes, I do think you're being a bit too sensitive).

I agree that my post was unrelated to your query and perhaps 'unnecessary', but then isn't that part of the interest of forums like this, that discussions can lead in unexpected directions?

The question of contexts is an interesting one - where does one respect the context a person is coming from and where can one expect the person to respect _your_ context? No easy answers here I guess and to prove that I just came across East Indian in a different context. This was in a petition about a lawyer of Indian origin now in jail in Arizona. The petition referred to him as East Indian and I think in this political context it made sense, since 'Indian' in the 'Native American' has still not been entirely superseded by the latter term in political contexts.

The context here is a specifically Indian forum on a forum devoted to food knowledge, so I think I could fairly argue - as I said in my mail - that the term Indian takes precedence. (It would be interesting though if Native Americans started posting on their food!) and my post was just trying to point that out.

I don't like it when our friend Vikram puts down north Indian or punjabi cuisine or says that restaurants serving gustaba are 'crap'.

Correction: I didn't say restaurants serving gustaba are crap, I said restaurants in Goa serving it are likely to be crap, which if you have any experience of resort cooking in India is a fairly safe prediction.

I agree I have a bit of a bee in the bonnet about north Indian food, but again its not actual north Indian/punjabi food I'm talking about. I love genuine north Indian/punjabi food and cook it most of the time (South Indian dishes are often too much effort to fit into a busy week). What I can't stand and will always attack is the bastardised version that has spread its poisonous, over-spiced, all-made-from-the-same-onion-base, swimming-in-butter tentacles into 'Indian' restaurants around the world.

Such food is even more of an insult to north Indian/punjabi than to the other Indian styles of cooking which it merely overlooks rather than perverts in such a horrifying way.

Vikram

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BBhasin - I was thinking about your suggestions regarding my parathas.  While they were delicious while fresh and warm they were disappointing when reheated.  I think I did two things wrong - 1)  I believe that I cooked them on too high a heat, thereby not quite cooking the flour  2)  Stacking them while warm, causing them to go soggy.  I will try your suggestions.

Thank you also for your interest in my menu.  Unfortunately, due to unforseen personal circumstances, the dinner was cancelled yesterday.  It will perhaps get revived at a later date.

This is my first experience on posting to this forum and I will hestitate to do so again.  I am not going to participate in a debate on this, but I feel that I cannot let Vikram's reply go without comments.  I posted an innocent question in a "food" forum using a terminology that is well accepted where I live.  Vikram's response was unrelated to my question and based on certain incorrect assumptions about where I live and the background of the usage of the term "East Indian".  Perhaps I am too sensitive, but I thought the post was vitriolic and unnecessary.  I will continue to read the informative food related posts with interest and continue to cook and enjoy the recipes from this forum, but will certainly think twice about posting.  Life is just too short!    :sad:

Please dont take anything here personally - online boards tend to be a hard medium sometimes because they do not accurately reflect emotions.

Do stay and more importantly do post. It is because of folks like you that this forum is successful.

So when is that dinner rescheduled for? Perhpas you would like to try out some new recipes I am working on?


Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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I lost my paternal grandma a week or so ago. I have been away from this forum. My apologies to all parties.

I would like to second what Monica has said above.

And just as Monica has offered you recipes, I too would be happy to send you whatever you may want and I could have of interest for you.

Welcome to this forum, and our unique take on things largely known and understood and misunderstood, is also what makes life charming.

I hope we can all continue to share and learn and thrive here. I am always impressed by the brilliance that each of our members brings to this forum as also the many others on this site.

I shall now go read the thread in more detail.

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So when is that dinner rescheduled for? Perhpas you would like to try out some new recipes I am working on?

Thank you for your kind offer Monica. :smile: The dinner was to be in July, but is now cancelled. Because of too many other summer committments in August and holidays in September I am not sure when it will be rescheduled. Will keep you posted.

I will look forward to any new book that you publish. I have enjoyed the last one immensely.

Sorry it took me several days to respond, but I have been out of town.


Life is short, eat dessert first

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Here in France, you'll find every Indian restaurant has cheese nans, a nan bread with Vache Qui Rit cheese inside, which is very tasty, but which I haven't seen elsewhere. Does this exist in England, the US, etc? If so, I havenn't seen it..


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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... Does this exist in England, the US, etc? If so, I havenn't seen it..

Nyet :smile:


anil

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Kalastanya in NYC makes a great Fenugreek Paratha.  I'd love to make my own. Anyone have recipe?

Joseph,

Welcome to eGullet and the Indian forum. :smile:

I am posting below a recipe given to me by a friend from Bombay. I have never tested the recipe, so I hereby issue a disclaimer. I think it should work fine. Use very little water to begin with, since you can always add more. If you want, please email me, and I can send you a few recipes for Indian flatbreads that I have written, maybe you can compare them and ensure that what you do is similar.

I love Theplas (what many Indian stores sell today and call Methi Paratha). They come from Gujarat, a state in Western India. The state where Mahatma Gandhi was born and lived for a large chunk of his life.

Keep us posted on how the bread comes out. Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

Theplas(Fenugreek Scented Flat Bread from Gujarat)

1 cup chapati flour (whole wheat flour)

1/4 cup chaawal kaa atta (rice flour)

1/4 cup besan (gram flour)

1/2 cup tightly packed haraa dhaniya (cilantro), washed and chopped very finely

1 bunch haree methi(fenugreek leaves) or substitute with 1/2 cup Kasoori Methi, washed and chopped finely

1/4 teaspoon haldi (turmeric powder)

1 tsp. laal mirchi (red chili powder)

1 tsp. til (sesame seeds)

1/2 tsp. zeera (cumin seeds)

3 green chilies, minced very finely

2 tbsp. canola

salt to taste

Flour for dusting

Canola to shallow fry

Mix all three flours together and sieve. Use a fork and mix the flours nicely. Set aside.

Mix all ingredients except the oil for shallow frying.

Knead into a soft pliable dough using as much water as required. Use your knuckles and your wrists to really knead the dough well. The more you knead the softer and more pliable the dough will get.

Divide this dough into 12 equal rounds.

Roll these rounds into circles, about 6" in diameter. Use flour to dust the circles as you roll them.

Heat a skillet or a griddle, shallow fry these circles by applying a little oil on both sides. Fry until cooked. Drain on paper towels and let cook to room temperature.

Repeat for all 12 rounds.

Store these flat breads in an air-tight container.

Eat with a pickle of your choice or with some raita.

Suvir,

Thank you for the welcome and the recipe, which sounds divine. I'll pick up this week the ingredients I don't already have and try it next weekend. I'll be sure to post some photos.

--JOe

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Here in France, you'll find every Indian restaurant has cheese nans, a nan bread with Vache Qui Rit cheese inside, which is very tasty, but which I haven't seen elsewhere. Does this exist in England, the US, etc? If so, I havenn't seen it..

No they do not exist in England. But the French do not have a clue about Indian food (or any food other than French) and have a need to Frenchify everything to keep it within their monocultural perspective-so:French cheese in the naan.

Some Sikhs we know who run an Indian restaurant in Vienna have to make all the meat dishes with pork. Pork is also unheard of in Indian restaurants in the UK. But they say that if they do not put pork on the menu the Austrians simply won't eat there-another example of the same thing.

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But French people don't own Indian restaurants, Indian and Sri Lankan people do...


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

blog

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But French people don't own Indian restaurants, Indian and Sri Lankan people do...

It's not about who owns the restaurants. It's about who eats in them. The majority of customers in Indian restaurants are not Indian (or Sri Lankan). They have to cook food that people want to eat. And in France that means cooking with cheese and in Vienna it means cooking with pork. If it were up to them they wouldn't cook with either product (I don't count paneer as cheese in the French sense).


Edited by Tonyfinch (log)

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. But the French do not have a clue about Indian food (or any food other than French) and have a need to Frenchify everything to keep it within their monocultural perspective-so:French cheese in the naan.

It's not the French doing it, but the Indian and Sri Lankan restaurant owners bending to the local tastes, they are not French so it has nothing to do with them pressing a French "monocultural perspective", just a choice in changing one or two menu items .... Hasn't this happened in England as well? Or is the Indian cuisine in the UK totally pure?

By the way, the Nan with Vache qui Rit is delicious...


Edited by fresh_a (log)

Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

blog

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It's not the French doing it, but the Indian and Sri Lankan restaurant owners bending to the local tastes,

fresh-a, I'm not sure what you're not getting here. Cheese and pork are rarely, if ever found in on Indian menus in the UK or on the Indian subcontinent (or most of it). The owners are cooking with these products because their market demands it. They have to "bend to local taste" otherwise thier business suffers. And in France local taste clearly demands cheese in the naan. Nobody in the UK would dream of demanding such a product from an Indian restaurant

In the UK the vast majority of Indian restaurants are in fact run by Bangladeshis who cook a well established curry house rota for a largely post pub working class market. In London a few Indian restaurants break the mold and there is a wider range of regional and authentically cooked cuisines from the sub-continent.

In terms of multi culturalism, this is an area where France is a hundred years behind the UK. Not just in terms of restaurants but in all respects. Lacking a highly successful codified cuisine of our own we have far more respect for a far wider range of cuisines than the French have.

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Not quite so Tone

Pork is often found in Goa. That being said it is rarely found in the hybrid menus of the rest of the world or in other parts of India

S

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Pork is often found in Goa.

Yes, well I said most of India. Even in Goa I didn't encounter it very often. A counter example to the French one would be if us Rosbifs demanded beef on Indian restaurant menus. But we do not.


Edited by Tonyfinch (log)

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I'm not "getting" at anything, just wanted to clarify the fact that the French have nothing to do with "Frenchifying" and pushing their "monoculturism" in Indian restaurants, as these restaurants are not owned by French. The restaurants are, simply, catering to the local market to some extent. I was just wondering, as well, if anyone out there might provide me with any examples of "non-Indian" menu items in the UK. Just for curiosity's sake.

And I, as a Rosbif myself, have no interest in promoting French culture.


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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      • Knead the dough well, adding only enough water or other specified liquid to make the dough the right consistency.
      • A must for preparing these breads is to let the dough rest as indicated. This will ensure that the dough softens and moistens, making it more pliable and easier to stretch
      • To prepare simple ghee (clarified butter) see below but for a in-depth discussion check out this wonderful thread in the India forum. (See the last few suggestions on preparing it by melting butter.)
      • You can also purchase ghee or clarified butter at your local Indian grocer or from www. Namaste.com.
      Clarified Butter (Ghee)
      Yields: About ½ cup
      ½ lb unsalted butter
      Heat a heavy pan over low heat. Add the butter, allowing it to melt. Once the butter has melted, increase the heat, bringing the butter to a simmer. The butter will start to foam.
      Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Watch carefully as it may burn. The milk solids will start to settle at the bottom, and the liquid butter will float to the surface. When the liquid butter becomes amber in color, remove it from from the heat. Cool to room temperature.
      Strain the amber liquid into a jar and discard the milk solids.
      Cover and store, refrigerated, for up to 6 months.
      Plain Naan Dough
      Naans are traditional Indian breads prepared in clay ovens or tandoors. They are commonplace on most Indian menus. We have tried here to present a simple dough for Naans and then two of the more unusual preparations for it: the Peshawari Naan and the Onion Kulcha. .
      • ½ cup milk
      • 1 teaspoon sugar
      • 1 cup warm water
      • 1 tablespoon yogurt
      • 1 egg
      • 4 cups of all-purpose flour (labelled "maida" in Indian grocery store)
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 1 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (for baking tray)
      • 2 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee
      In a bowl whisk together the milk, sugar, water, yogurt and egg.
      Place the flour, salt and baking powder in a large shallow bowl. Mix well.
      Pour the liquid onto the flour and begin to knead. Continue kneading until you have a soft dough. If you need more liquid, add a few tablespoons of warm water. Knead for at least 10 minutes, or until you have a soft dough that is not sticky.
      Oil the dough.
      Cover the dough with a damp cloth and place in a warm place for 1½ - 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in volume.
      Directions for plain naan:
      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, heavy baking tray and set aside. Lightly dust the rolling surface and rolling pin with flour.
      Knead the dough again on the floured surface for about 5 minutes. Divide it into 8 equal pieces and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.
      Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it with your hands. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into an oval shape (about 8 inches). Using your hands, pull at both ends of the oval to stretch it a little. Continue until you have made 8 naans.
      Brush each oval with clarified butter.

      Place the naans on the baking sheet bake for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 minutes or until golden brown.
      Peshawari Naan
      In this delightfully sinful recipe, the naan dough is stuffed with dried nuts and raisins and baked. Serve this warm right out of the oven for the best taste.
      1 recipe prepared plain naan dough
      For the stuffing:
      • 1 tablespoon cashews (crushed)
      • 1 tablespoon almonds (crushed)
      • 1+1 tablespoons pistachios (crushed)
      • 1 tablespoon raisins
      • 1 teaspoon cilantro leaves, minced
      • 1 teaspoon sugar
      • 1 tablespoon Milk Mawa Powder (Dried whole milk powder)

      • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
      • 3 tablespoons melted butter or clarified butter
      Prepare the Naan dough.

      While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.
      Set aside 1 tablespoon of pistachios and the raisins. In a mixing bowl combine all the other filling ingredients. Add a few tablespoons of water to bind them together to form a lumpy consistency.
      Roll the dough into a log. Cut into 8 equal portions. Lightly dust the rolling surface with flour.
      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, heavy baking tray and set aside. Lightly oil or flour your hands.
      Take one portion of the dough and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Flatten the ball. Place it on the floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
      Add a tablespoon of the filling to the center. Bring the sides together and pinch them to seal and form a ball. Flatten lightly. Dust very lightly with flour.

      Roll the flattened ball again on a lightly floured surface until about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
      Garnish with the reserved pistachios and raisins.

      Continue until you have made 8 naans.
      Brush each naan with clarified butter. Place the naans on the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 minutes or until golden brown.
      Serve hot.

      Onion Kulcha
      We present this recipe by popular demand. Here the naan is stuffed with a spiced onion mix and baked to perfection.
      1 recipe prepared plain naan dough
      For the stuffing:
      • 2 small red onions, finely chopped
      • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro
      • 1 tablespoon Chaat Masala (www.namaste.com)
      • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
      • Salt to taste
      • 3 tablespoons melted butter or clarified butter
      • 2 teaspoons cilantro, minced for garnish
      • small boiled potato, grated (optional)
      Prepare the naan dough.

      While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.

      First, using the palms of your hands, squeeze out all the water from the chopped onions. If the onions still appear to be watery, add a small boiled grated potato to your filling. This will prevent the filling from spilling out of the kulcha.
      In a mixing bowl combine all the filling to form a lumpy consistency.

      Roll the dough into a log. Cut into 8 equal portions. Lightly dust the rolling surface with flour.
      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, heavy baking tray and set aside. Lightly oil or flour your hands.
      Take one portion of the dough and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Flatten the ball. Place it on the floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.

      Add a tablespoon of the filling to the center. Bring the sides together and pinch them to seal and form a ball. Flatten lightly. Dust very lightly with flour.

      Roll the flattened ball again on a lightly floured surface until about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.

      Dip your fingers in water and moisten the surface of the kulcha very lightly. Sprinkle with a few minced cilantro leaves. Continue until you have made 8 kulchas.

      Place the kulchas on the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 minutes or until golden brown.
      Serve hot.


      Ande Ka Paratha
      This is a unique addition to your recipe collection. A mild and flaky bread, it is a small kid’s favorite at our home.
      Makes 8 parathas
      • 2 cups Indian atta flour (whole-wheat flour)
      • 1½ teaspoons table salt
      • 2+2 tablespoons melted butter or clarified butter
      • Water as needed
      • 8 eggs
      In a bowl combine the flour, salt and two tablespoons of clarified butter. Slowly begin to add the water, kneading the flour as you go. Make a dough, kneading for at least 10 minutes. The final dough should be soft and pliable. It should not be sticky or else it will not roll out well.


      Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.

      Roll the dough into a log. Cut into 8 equal portions. Lightly dust the rolling surface with flour.
      Lightly oil or flour your hands. Take one portion and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Flatten the ball. Place it on the prepared floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
      Now fold the dough over itself.

      Take the folded dough and roll it around itself into a spiral.

      Tuck the end under.

      Do this for all eight dough balls. (This folding and rolling will make the paratha very flaky.)

      Now flatten the spiral and roll again on a lightly floured surface until about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.


      Heat a griddle on medium heat. Brush it lightly with butter and add the paratha. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bottom of the paratha begins to blister. Brush the top lightly with butter and remove from heat. Put the paratha aside on a warm plate.

      Grease the same griddle a bit and break an egg on it. Cook the egg sunny side up. Place the cooked side of the paratha on the egg. Press down gently to break the yolk. Let it cook for a minute. Brush the top of the paratha with butter, flip carefully and cook for another minute or two until the paratha is no longer raw.


      Remove the paratha from the griddle and place on a serving platter. Cover with a paper towel. Continue until all the parathas are cooked.
      Serve hot.

      Indian Bread Stuffed With Spicy Potatoes (Aloo Ka Paratha)
      This filled paratha is a very popular North Indian bread, served traditionally with homemade white butter and Indian pickles of your choice.
      • 2 cups Indian atta flour (whole-wheat flour)
      • 4 tablespoons semolina
      • 1½ teaspoons table salt
      • 2 tablespoons melted clarified butter or butter
      • Water as needed
      • 3 medium potatoes, peeled
      • 2 Serrano green chilies, seeded and finely minced
      • 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
      • 1 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, grated
      • 1 teaspoon Chaat Masala
      • 4 tablespoons melted clarified butter or butter
      • A few tablespoons flour for dusting
      In a bowl combine the wheat flour, semolina flour, salt and two tablespoons of clarified butter. Slowly begin to add the water, kneading the flour as you go. Make a dough, kneading for at least 10 minutes. The final dough should be soft and pliable. It should not be sticky, or else it will not roll out well.
      Cover the dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.
      While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.
      Boil the potatoes in enough water to cover for about 15 minutes. Drain.



      Put the potatoes in a bowl and mash them well with a fork. Add the green chilies, cilantro, ginger root, and chaat masala and mix well. Set this filling aside to cool.
      Roll the dough into a log. Cut into 8 equal portions. Lightly dust the rolling surface with flour.
      Lightly oil or flour your hands. Take one portion and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Flatten the ball. Place it on the prepared floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a circle about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
      Lightly brush the surface with the clarified butter. Add a tablespoon of the potato filling to the center. Bring the sides together and pinch them to seal and form a ball. Flatten lightly. Dust very lightly with flour.



      Roll the flattened ball again on a lightly floured surface until about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.


      Heat a griddle on medium heat. Brush it lightly with butter and add the paratha. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bottom of the paratha begins to blister. Brush the top lightly with butter and flip over. Cook for 2 minutes.

      Remove the paratha from the griddle and place on a serving platter. Cover with a paper towel. Continue until all the parathas are cooked.

      Sheermal
      A sweet bread, it is one of the few Indian breads that uses yeast. Keep the dough in a warm place to ensure that it rises. You can increase the amount of sugar if you like a sweeter taste.

      • 1 packet dry yeast
      • 1 teaspoon sugar
      • ¼ cup water
      • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
      • ¼ teaspoon salt
      • 2 tablespoons sugar
      • 2 eggs (separate 1 egg and set the yolk aside) beat the whole egg and the white together
      • 2 tablespoons melted clarified butter or butter
      • Extra flour for dusting
      • Pitted cherries/raisins for garnish
      Mix yeast with the sugar and 1/4 cup water. Set aside until frothy, about 5 - 10 minutes.
      Combine the flour, salt and sugar. Add the clarified butter, egg and yeast mixture. Knead until a smooth dough is formed. (You may need more warm water.) Set aside to rise until the dough doubles in size.
      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a large, heavy baking tray and set aside. Lightly dust the rolling surface and rolling pin with flour.
      Knead the dough again on the floured surface for about 5 minutes. Divide it into 6 equal pieces and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap.
      Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it with your hands. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into a disc. Continue until you have made 6 discs.
      Beat the reserved egg yolk and brush a little on each sheermal. Place a few cherries on the sheermal for garnish. Place the discs on the baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes.

      Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 minutes, or until golden brown.

      Tandoori Roti
      We wanted to show how the tandoor is used to prepare breads. These pictures are of a special roti or bread, called Tandoori Roti, being prepared in the hot tandoor or clay oven.
      The basic recipe entails preparing a dough of whole-wheat flour. (See the paratha dough prepared earlier.) The flattened rolled out discs are then cooked in the tandoor until the dark spots begin appearing on the surface of the bread.




      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
    • By rajsuman
      Inspired by a similar thread under 'General Food Topics', I wanted to know how many Indian cookbooks we collectively own on this forum. I have 43 right now, but I'm sure more will turn up from under the bed etc. I'm particularly curious about your collection Vikram, because you seem to own every Indian cookbook under the sun. Here's a picture of my very modest collection (a few on the left haven't come in the shot)

      This is in the kitchen, although there are not that many Indian books here ('Indian Everyday' is from the library) except the small booklets at the end.

    • By eGCI Team
      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
      Sourdough Bread
      by Jack Lang (jackal10)
      Acknowledgements
      Dan Lepard, for inspiration and and contribution.
      Charles Lang, whose hands are in the photographs.
      Brendel Lang for the painting.
      The Members of the eGCI team for considerable labour and expertise.
      Samuel Lloyd Kinsey (slkinsey) my fellow instructor.
      Jill Grey, my partner, for putting up with the mess.
      Introduction

      The object of this lesson is to teach you to bake better bread— bread that will be the envy of your non-baking friends—bread so good that people will wonder where it came from!
      The recipe is archived here.
      Why sourdough? Because it tastes better. This is the real stuff; not some machine-made pap. You will make bread you just can’t stop eating, and that will spoil you for mass-produced bought bread. Once you have mastered basic white bread, you (or we) can go on to whatever variations you like or request. This is daily bread, fragrant with tastes of the yeast and the grain, and with a crisp crackling crust. Perfect on its own, or with good butter, or jam, or cheese and maybe a ripe tomato. It keeps (in a paper bag, not in the fridge) for close to a week, although you may need to toast it toward the end of the week. Toasted it makes magnificent bruschetta. You can bake weekly, or less often as the bread freezes well.
      This recipe and technique may seem straightforward, but it contains the results of years of experimentation and optimisation. We’ll make plain, white bread. Once you have mastered that, you can go on to fancier loaves. However (unless you really need the bran) you will come back to this basic bread just because it is so good and so pure.
      Bread comes in many shapes.

      English bread shapes

      European bread shapes
      This lesson will teach the basic French boule or flattened ball shape. We will also look at baguettes. But you can make any shape you fancy. The same dough works well in a tin, too.
      You can find more technical details regarding the history of sourdough bread and the composition of the starter by clicking this link. Reading this background history and science is not essential, but very helpful. It will give some insight into why as well as the how.
      Where to get your starter
      You basically have three options –
      1. Buy a starter off the web or from a local artisanal bakery. One place is here.
      2. Order the eGullet starter.
      You can obtain the special egullet starter by sending a PM to jackal10 with your snail-mail address. The starter will be sent out free, although the cost of the starter and postage is about $10. Please donate at least that much to your favourite charity, and we would appreciate it if you could include the name of the charity and the amount in your PM.
      Your egullet starter was collected originally in the vineyards of California, but has travelled extensively since. It produces a light, mild bread. When it arrives, it will look like raw dough in a plastic bag

      How your starter will look when you unpack it.
      You can leave it in the fridge until you are ready, or better, turn it into your own starter. To do this, add one cup of flour and 1 cup of water and mix to a smooth batter. You can do this by hand or in a food processor. Put the batter into a basin, cover and leave in a warm (80-85F/27-29C) place for 4-8 hours, or until you see bubbles on the surface. Ideally refresh it a couple of times, and you are ready. You can store the starter in a jar in the fridge.
      3. Make your own.
      You can make your own starter and harvest the local wild yeasts with some patience. The key is the remarkable stability of the yeast-lacto bacillus pairing. If you keep almost any fermentable mixture of flour and water at about the right temperature, and when it begins to bubble, feed (refresh) it regularly, you will get the right bugs.
      Some people add grapes with bloom on them (yeasts live on the surface), rye (high in enzymes), or other things, but that is mostly superstition.
      How to roll your own starter
      a) Mix 1 cup flour and 1 cup water to a smooth batter.
      b) Cover and leave in a warm (85F/29C) place until it starts to bubble (12 hours or so but it can take several days). Don’t worry about off smells or colours at this stage. Skim any obvious muck.
      c) Refresh it by adding another ½ cup of flour and ½ cup of water and stir. If the volume gets too much for your container, throw some away. Cover the rest and put it back into a warm place.
      d) Repeat the last step for 4 times at 8-12 hour intervals. The starter should be active, and smell wholesome.
      Starters can be kept in a closed jar in the refrigerator for months. They may separate into two layers, but just stir them together before use. They will, of course, keep best if used and refreshed regularly. If the starter seems sluggish, refresh it a couple of times (step c above) before use.
      Starter doesn’t freeze well, but can be dried for a reserve supply. If you need to ship it, make some into a lasagna sheet, or stiff dough.
      For best results always use the same flour, so the bugs can get used to it. Some people keep separate starters for white, rye and for wholemeal (whole wheat). I use white unbleached flour, which has added Vitamin C as an improver. As mentioned above, if your flour does not already have Vitamin C in it, you can add 1/2tsp Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) but it is not critical.
      Recovering a sick starter
      If your starter smells off (cheesy or of peardrops), or has gone sluggish you can recover it by following the procedure for a new starter above, but inoculate the initial flour and water mix with a tablespoon or two of the old starter.
      Practical Section
      A typical bread-making timetable is
      Day 1:
      09:00: Refresh starter
      - Starter ferments -
      13:00: Make dough
      13:15: Dough kneaded (by hand)
      -Amylisation-
      13:45: Add Salt
      14:00 Finished dough
      - Bulk fermentation-
      16:00: Shape
      -Retard overnight –
      Day 2
      Pre-heat oven, and bake for 40 minutes.
      Ingredients for 1 loaf or four baguettes.
      To refresh the starter:
      1 c sourdough starter
      1 c Strong white bread flour
      1 c water
      For the dough:
      1 c refreshed sourdough starter
      3 c Strong white bread flour.
      1 c water (you may need more -- see below)
      2 tsp salt
      The dough in the illustration is ordinary unbleached supermarket (Tesco) strong white bread flour, 11.7g protein, with ½ cup of spelt flour added for flavour. This supermarket adds Vitamin C and amalyse to their bread flour. Different flours may adsorb different amounts of water. This flour needs a bit more water. The object is to make a very soft dough -- one that has only just stopped being a batter and just holds together.
      Sourdough Bread Instructions
      A. Refresh the Starter
      1. Mix together 1 cup starter, 1 cup strong flour and 1 cup of water. It should be the consistency of very thick cream.

      Starter just mixed.
      3. Cover, and allow to stand in a warm (85F/29C) place for 4 hours.

      Starter after 4 hours.
      After 4 hours or so, it should be bubbly. Temperature is fairly critical, as discussed above. Any hotter than 85F/29C and you start to kill the yeast; any colder and it will not be as sour and will take longer to rise.
      What we are making here is a sponge starter or poolish. Starters (pre-ferments) can be roughly divided by hydration into wet, batter-like pre-ferments, often called poolish from their origin and dry, dough-like pre-ferments, often called biga, as the technique is typical of Italian bread. Some bakers call a poolish a sponge; others use sponge to refer to all pre-ferments.
      B. Make the Dough
      Assemble Ingredients as listed above.

      The storage jar with the rest of the starter is at the back right, ready to go back into the fridge for next time.
      The easiest way is to whizz together refreshed starter, flour and water (but not the salt yet) in a food processor for 20 sec.
      Alternatively mix them in a large bowl:

      Ready to mix

      Dough after mixing.
      Should make a softish dough. The wetter the dough the bigger the holes in the final bread. Different flours need different amounts of water – add more water or flour to get the right consistency. You may need to add up to another ½ cup of flour so that it just stops being a batter and holds together as a dough. On the other hand if it is too stiff then add more water. Plenty of loose flour will stop it sticking too much.
      If you are making the dough by hand then knead for 10 minutes by the clock.

      Be rough with it. Lose your temper with it. Take out your frustrations on it. Slam it about. When it is properly kneaded it should feel resilient to the touch. It has been described as feeling like an earlobe, but I describe it like feeling a soft breast or buttock. You should be able to take a pinch of dough and stretch it so thin you can see through it – called the “windowpane test”.

      When kneaded the dough will stretch without breaking
      You cannot over-knead by hand. It is possible (but quite difficult) to over-knead if you are using a mixer or a food processor, as the dough can get too hot, and if worked too long and hard the gluten will begin to break down.

      Finished Dough
      Gather it together, and wipe a little oil over the surface to stop it sticking, cover it and leave it in a warm place for 30 mins.

      Resting
      This pause, before the salt is added, is for several reasons:
      - It lets the enzymes do their stuff. They begin breaking down starches into sugars to feed the yeast to make a better crust colour. Salt tends to retard this reaction.
      - It lets the dough (and you) rest and relax after the exertions of kneading.
      - It allows the flour to complete its hydration, High levels of salt can interfere with this.
      - It allows time for you to prepare your “banneton” to receive the finished dough. See Preparing Your Banneton below.
      After 30 mins add the salt and whiz for another 20 sec, or knead for another 10 mins. Oil, cover, and leave for 2 hours or so in a warm (85F/29C) place. The exact time is not critical – anything from about 90 minutes to 3 hours will work. Temperature is more critical than time.

      Rested Dough
      The dough will have expanded a bit. Don’t worry about whether it has doubled or not. A lot of nonsense is written in some cookbooks, resulting in much overproved dough. The dough will also have got a bit softer and wetter.
      Turn out onto a floured board.

      Dusting the board with flour
      Now handle gently - don't knock all the air out. The time for rough handling is over. Take the sides and fold to the centre.

      Folding the dough
      Folding the dough like this (you can also fold top to bottom as well) gently stretches the gluten and the bubbles forming in the bread. Dan Lepard's technique for his wonderful bread is to repeat this folding operation every hour for up to 5 hours during an extended bulk fermentation phase, resting the dough between times. When the dough is ready for shaping bubbles are clearly visible if you cut a small slit
      in the top of the dough with a sharp knife.
      Turn the dough over and shape into a ball. As you shape it try and stretch the surface a bit so it is taut.

      Shaping the dough
      Put it upside down (on its stretched, taut surface) into a cloth lined basket (called a banneton). The top of the dough in the banneton will be the bottom of the finished loaf.
      Preparing Your Banneton
      Traditionally, bannetons are made of cane or wicker, lined with linen, but you can improvise from a basin or a basket and a tea-towel or a piece of muslin. Ideally they are porous, so the outside dries slightly to help in crust development.

      Dough in the banneton
      Don’t worry if the top surface of the dough in the banneton is uneven: it will even itself out. Put into the fridge, covered with a cloth, overnight.

      In the fridge
      The dough is soft and needs the support of the basket. You could bake it after letting it rise for a hour or so, but its easier to handle, and gives a better crust if you keep it in the fridge (retardation) for between 8 and 24 hours. The cold will practically stop the fermentation, and so timing is not critical, and it gives you back control in that you can bake the dough when you want, rather than when the fermentation dictates.
      I’m lucky enough to have a brick bread oven that has a brick floor that holds the heat. The shell of this one I imported from France, from a company called Four Grandmere. If you are inspired to build your own, Dan Wing’s and Tom Jaine’s books are given in the references

      My oven

      Inside the oven
      You can approximate a similar environment in a domestic oven by putting a pizza stone or a layer of quarry tiles or engineering bricks on the lowest shelf to provide bottom heat.
      You are aiming for 440F/230C or even 500F/260C, as hot as most domestic ovens can manage. Heat the oven at least an hour before you want to bake to allow time to stabilise, and for the heat to soak into the tiles or equivalent. (If you have a wood fired oven you will need to light the fire about four hours before baking.)

      My oven heating up
      If you have an oven thermometer, check the temperature of the oven. You are strongly advised to do this as oven thermostats are surprisingly inaccurate.

      Thermometer
      When ready to bake, take the dough out of the fridge. Some advise letting the dough return to room temperature --a couple of hours or so, but I find I it better and easier to cook these very soft doughs straight from the fridge. The cold dough is stiffer, handles easier and spreads less.

      The dough from the fridge
      Again, don’t worry that it does not seem to have expanded much. Most of the expansion will be in the oven (called oven-spring). This will result in a lighter and better-shaped loaf than if the expansion is from proofing when some of the gas may leak out.

      When ready to bake, turn the dough out onto a baking sheet and remove the cloth. (For the wood fired oven we use a peel, lightly dusted with dry polenta meal so the dough does not stick.)

      Slash the top firmly with a very sharp knife. Professional bakers use a razor blade on a stick, called a “lame”. Slash quickly and decisively – it is a slash not a cut. Don’t mess the dough about. Spray the knife blade with cooking spray to prevent it from tearing the dough.

      The slashes allow the dough to rise in a defined way, and lessen the resistance to expansion by making weak points in the crust. In ancient times the pattern of slashes identified whose bread it was in the communal oven.
      Here a slightly careless slash has caught the dough on one side, so the finished loaf will be a bit uneven and rustic.

      Into the oven:

      Just loaded:

      20 minutes later, and halfway through the bake. Most of the expansion has happened. Our loaf is the one on the left.

      The pattern on the rye bread on the front right is created by using a banneton made from coiled cane. No cloth is used in that sort of banneton. Bannetons can be obtained from any good baking supplier. The ones shown come from Four Grandmere and the San Francisco Baking Institute.

      Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until it is a good colour. You might need to rotate it after 30 mins.
      Let the bread cool to warm before you slice it. Hard to resist the temptation to slice into the loaf too soon, but it needs time to finish cooking and for the structure to firm up as it cools.

      I like an open texture, as it gives more room for the butter. The crust is a little thick as the bread was slightly over baked.

      That completes the basic bread lesson.

      Variations on the basic recipe/technique
      I’d advise practicing plain white bread before trying variations. When you get that right you can get fancier. You might not get it completely to your satisfaction the first time, but as you go on your baking will improve. There are infinite variations possible.
      Crust Variations:
      My brother prefers a flour dusted crust. These were the other loaves in the bake:

      To get this effect, lightly dust the banneton and the top of the dough with flour before putting in the dough.

      The legs in the top of the picture are my sister-in-law, painting the scene. I’m the one sitting down; my brother is loading the oven.

      The dough is slashed in a feather pattern. To achieve this, make alternate slashes from each side of the loaf to just over halfway across. This pattern was tought to us by Ian Duffy, then of the San Fransisco Baking Institute.

      This is a loaf with 25% rye flour.
      For a shiny, thinner crust, put an empty pan in the bottom of the oven and pour a cup of boiling water into it after you have put the bread in the oven (be careful of the hot steam), and shut the door quickly. The idea is to provide a burst of steam, which gelatinises the outside of the dough. Professional ovens have steam injection for this purpose. Alternatively (but not as good) you can paint the bread with water before it goes in the oven, or use a garden sprayer. (Be careful not to get cold water on the oven light or it might shatter.) The baguettes below are made like this.
      Other crust variations you can try:
      Brush with milk or cream
      Brush with egg glaze (egg yolk+milk)
      Toppings (stick on with egg-wash or water):
      Porridge oats (oatmeal)
      Muesli
      Poppy seeds
      Sesame seeds
      Grated cheese


      Flavours and additions
      Add with the salt, but you might want to chop them and then hand-knead them in – the food processor chops them a bit too fine
      Onions (soften in butter first),
      Hazelnuts, walnuts
      Olives,
      Sun-dried tomatoes (oil-packed?)
      Caraway seeds
      Dill weed
      Raisins
      Smarties or M&Ms
      Seeds: Pumpkin, sunflower, sesame
      Flour variants: I’d recommend replacing only 1/3-1/2 of the plain strong white flour with:
      Wholemeal (whole wheat) (will not rise as much)
      Granary (has added malt)
      Rye flour (makes a sticky dough)
      For dark rye add 1 Tbs black treacle (molasses). Some like caraway seeds as well.
      Spelt (ancient wheat) (Poilane is reputed to use 1/5th Spelt. This was the example bread).
      “Mighty White” (steamed, corned grains)
      For a sweet bread: add sugar and butter with the fruit. Saffron for Easter.
      Baguettes
      Baguettes, that typical French loaf, are long thin loaves made with a soft, white dough. Because they are thin, they are baked at a higher temperature but for less time. The dough is delicate, and needs supporting continuously during proof and baking. You can get special pans for this. I’ve now thrown away my tin baguette pans (the ones in these pictures) and instead use a silpat baguette form (from www.demarle.com). You can just see it in the crust variation photo. Much easier and no sticking.
      To Make Baguettes from the Finished Dough
      Divide the dough into four, at the shaping stage:

      Roll and stretch into long cylinders, tucking the end in neatly. Cover, put into a large plastic bag, like a dustbin liner so that they do not dry out too much, and put in the fridge overnight. Next day take them out, and slash the tops.

      Put them in the hottest oven you can, and throw half a cup water into a pan or onto the oven floor. Beware of the hot steam!

      Bake until golden, say 30 mins

      Let cool on a rack. Enjoy with cheese and a glass of wine, or maybe some good soup.

      References
      Dan Lepard Baking with Passion - Dan Lepard - A great book. Website: www.danlepard.com.
      Joe Ortiz The Village Baker ISBN 0-89815-489-8 wonderfully evocative.
      Bread Builders. Hearth loaves and Masonry Ovens - Daniel Wing and Alan Scott. The definitive book on building and using brick bread ovens.
      The Bread Baker's Apprentice - Peter Reinhart
      Breads from the La Brea Bakery - Nancy Silverton
      Elizabeth David English Bread and Yeast Cookery ISBN 0-14-046791 is, like all her books, masterly for its time.
      Tom Jaine, Building a Wood Fired Oven for Bread and Pizza. Prospect Books ISBN 0907325
      Web resources
      www.danlepard.com
      www.fourgrandmere.com (Click on the Union Jack to get the English version).
      www.sfbi.com
      www.demarle.com
      www.sourdoughhome.com
      http://samartha.net
      www.sourdo.com
      www.faqs.org SLKinsey is a contributor- a good resource.
      Post your questions here -->> Q&A
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