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jokhm

Indian Breads

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Fresh-a we seem to have a communication difficulty here. What you don't seem to be getting is that ONLY in France do Indian restaurants serve Naan with cheese. This is NOT because the Indian owners like it that way. It is because their French customers demand it. And that is because they are French, and the French like to eat cheese. Even in Indian restaurants. Austrians demand pork all the time. So Indian restaurants have to serve it. The market in this type of restaurant is not driven by what the owners wish to cook but what customers demand to eat. The British diner does not demand pork or beef or cheese from its Indian restaurants and therefore these ingredients are totally absent in virtually all of them.

In the UK the important selling point for Indian restaurants is that they serve cold lager and that they are cheap. This is because customers will traditionally visit after the pub and demand more cold beer. There is a sub demand that the food is chilli hot, because amongst a certain type of diner eating hot curry equates to being macho. In the UK its not the ingredients themselves that are compromised but the quality of those ingredients, which are often pre-prepared and mass produced out of packets and jars to keep down costs.


Edited by Tonyfinch (log)

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You must be making this up as you go along, Tony!

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.

Perhaps Scotland throws up some rare demographic anomalies (although I rather doubt it), but it's not my experience that Bangladeshis run the minority of restaurants let alone the vast majority. What are you basing your assertion on?

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

Only in London? Risible!

In the UK the important selling point for Indian restaurants is that they serve cold lager and that they are cheap. This is because customers will traditionally visit after the pub and demand more cold beer. There is a sub demand that the food is chilli hot, because amongst a certain type of diner eating hot curry equates to being macho.

And I thought Bernard Manning had cornered this market in stereotyping. Presumably those few London restaurants are breaking the mold in this respect, too?

As for the notion that authentic Indian cuisine would in no way countenance cheeses in naan, I think you are doing the invention and creativity of Chefs involved in it's creation a massive disservice. After all - as is widely recognised on this forum and beyond - the creativity involved in Indian cuisine is legendary. Would you think the creativity had stopped at some arbitary point in time whereby all those chefs decided there was no more need to experiment? No more need for creative use of ingredients was neccessary? Game over as it were - authenticity had been declared?

I'm certain this is not the case. I know and have worked with Indian chefs who delight in taking unusual, local ingredients and incorporating them skilfully and beautifully into their 'authentic' cuisine. Never tried a Tandoori Naan liberally stuffed with Gigha Smoked cheese? Scottish Salmon Buryani? I think you should try them, Tony. Kayani - the chef responsible for creating the dishes I mentioned - certainly considers his cuisine to be authentic. He's open-minded enough to know they may not be considered traditional, but I'd recognise the creativity and skill involved as authentic in any measure of Indian cuisine. Excepting the fact that Kayani is from Pakistan and would clip my ear for suggesting his cooking was exclusively Indian :laugh:

The fact is that this cuisine, and it's chefs, have been creative and making the best of what's available for as long there has been people creating the dishes.

It certainly didn't stop when they reached european shores.


Edited by A Scottish Chef (log)

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Thanks Scottish Chef, I knew there were other permutations in Indian food elsewhere, and that this is often justified...

But I guess it's easy to stereotype when you're a big expert in Indian food...


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

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SC.It is an absolute fact that over 90% of High St curry houses in the UK are run by Bangladeshis. If its not the same in Scotland then indeed it must be that the demographics are different but its certainly the case in England and Wales.

Most of these do not have original chefs as such. They have jobbing cooks who have no particular skill at cooking and who do it because its as good a job as any. Hence the cheap curry house formula seved up daily in restaurants around the land.

Most of the exceptions to this rule are in London (again can't speak for Scotland). These are either in enclaves with a high Asian population- Whitechapel, Southall, Wembley, Tooting-serving genuine regional food-or in very upmarket Central London restaurants such as Zaika and Tamarind, which do have skillful and original chefs and which aim for Michelin stars.

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Thanks Scottish Chef, I knew there were other permutations in Indian food elsewhere, and that this is often justified...

fresh_a. I have pointed out to you that putting cheese in naan does not happen outside of France. I have no experience of it in the UK despite having eaten in Indian restaurants all over the country (though Scottish Chef says he's had it, so it apparently does happen)

Cheese (of the European kind) has no place in thousands of years of great traditional Indian cuisine. To include cheese is to fundamentally misunderstand how the cuisine operates. Its the equivalent of putting, say, soy sauce into French food. It just has no place. You can slop it in if you like and say it tastes better but that's only because you can't eat food without soy sauce and you're not willing to try. You can put anything with anything and say its "justified", you can slop ketchup over everything if you wish, but if we're interested in learning about and respecting the traditions of cuisine we will refrain from chucking in ingredients which are completely outside that cuisin'e normal parameters.

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Cheese (of the European kind) has no place in thousands of years of great traditional Indian cuisine. To include cheese is to fundamentally misunderstand how the cuisine operates.

You haven't eaten recently in Bombay then! These days I find cheese - usually unfortunately of the most basic processed kind (Amul) - sprinkled on pretty much everything. What's happened is that the substantial vegetarian population has suddenly started demanding new taste sensations, but still wants it vegetarian and cheese comes in usefully here.

So you have cheese stuffed dosas, and cheese on pav bhaji and cheese on chat and cheese on bhel puri and just a couple of days back I found my local vada-pav joint where I sneak to when I want to indulge in carbohydrate overloading has started offering a cheese vada pau. And there are any number of places offering 'East-West' fusion, which tends to mean Indian ingredients deluged in a sea of cheese flavoured white sauce.

A very few of these variations are palatable - the cheese dosas aren't that bad. Most however are quite awful which is why I'd go along with Tony in denouncing this unthinking use of cheese as a perversion of Indian cooking.

Still, while I'd agree with him about cheese in the French sense being alien to Indian food, I think there are enough examples of its use in the form of paneer and when its well made - i.e. not just basic, tasteless white protein - then paneer can be creamy and delicate enough to count as a cheese in the French sense. I've certainly not been able to detect much difference between some goat cheeses or fresh cow's cheeses and the best paneer.

And as SC notes, this paneer is well used by cooks in all sorts of ways. Apart from its use in curries, the Bukhara and Peshawari restaurants from the ITC group serve a paneer staffed nan which is truly wonderful.

Cheese also makes me think of Bandel cheese, which I think is worth a different thread,

Vikram

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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

Pork is very much a part of Goan cooking, even if it doesn't show up much in the hotels and resorts which are where most visitors must be eating. Pork sorpotel is one of the key Goan dishes, suckling pig is roasted for feasts and choriz or Goa sausages are wonderful - sour, spicy, total heaven.

Pork also crops up in other parts of India, even if its not much acknowledged because of its doubly unclean - Muslim and Hindu - status. In South India for example its eaten by certain lower caste communities, cooked in the spicy South Indian style. Its not commonly served in the South Indian non-vegetarian restaurants that are generically called 'Chettiar' (genuine Chettiar food is different, but that's another story), but I think these communities would also eat it when its calling it 'wild boar', the game status dignifying what are usual just feral pigs.

The most famous non-Goan pork dish though is the Coorgi pandi curry, which is really good. Its from the mountainous region of Coorg whose famously good looking inhabitants proudly maintain certain tribal customs, among them the consumption of pork. Genuine pandi curry, which is hard to find in restaurants (Koshy's in Bangalore does a decent version) is mainly spiced with pepper, which grows wild in the region. I think they also make a good pork pickle.

The tribal cultures in the North East also eat a lot of pork, but I've never eaten any of these dishes.

Vikram

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I'm aware that pork is used in India. Indeed most Indian cookbooks have recipes for it. However, as i've said, it rarely shows up on restaurant menus either there or here (the UK). My point is that there is no demand from the British to have it on menus. Or beef which also rarely shows up. So why not? i can only conclude that there is a greater respect for the dietry laws of most Hindus and Muslims to the point where we realise that pork and beef would be offensive to large sections of those working in the restaurants and we are prepared to accept lamb and chicken as the meats in Indian restaurants because we accept that that is what most Indians who eat meat eat.

It is clear that the Austrians and Germans (pork is also commonplace in German Indian restaurants) do not have that same degree of respect or cultural consciousness and are not willing to contemplate giving business to restaurants unless they serve pork, regardless of what the restaurant workers feel.

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Tonyfinch: Cheese (of the European kind) has no place in thousands of years of great traditional Indian cuisine. To include cheese is to fundamentally misunderstand how the cuisine operates.

Tony: I'm not certain I understand what points you are trying to drive home at all. It looks remarkably like you are trying to dismiss the creative invention of Indian chefs and cuisine from it's tradition. I'm very definately arguing that this creativity is a vital part of the tradition.

Are you saying, for example, that Kayani's remarkable inclusion of local Scottish ingredients into his cuisine has no place because he fundamentally misunderstands how the cuisine operates? In this very thread, Suvir speaks enthusiastically of manipulations on basic Naan - does he also fundamentally misunderstand? It's just silly, Tony.

Tonyfinch: Its the equivalent of putting, say, soy sauce into French food. It just has no place....but if we're interested in learning about and respecting the traditions of cuisine we will refrain from chucking in ingredients which are completely outside that cuisin'e normal parameters.

Well. :laugh:

You refrain away to your hearts content. If any cuisine can claim to include invention as an inherent part of its traditions, then I'm betting the vast body of opinion would most definately include the French. What happens, Tony, when you come across new french dishes that include, say, soy sauce? Do you push the food away in disgust and say: " I can't eat french food with soy sauce and I'm not willing to try."

Have a wee look at how Raymond Blanc is getting creative with french and asian food.

Shock! Horror! French chef uses soy sauce in his pot-au-feu!

I'm surprised at you, Tony :biggrin:

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SC, I'm talking about CHEESE here. Not other ingredients. The French produce tonnes and tonnes of the stuff. A lot of people make a living from it. They need restaurants to sell it. They wish to see it incorporated into menus. It is an economic imperative that it is marketed. it has nothing to do with being "creative". No creative Indian chef in the UK or anywhere else in the world gets creative with CHEESE. Apart from your chap, apparently (could you elaborate on him?) Why then in France? Cheese is an irrelevancy to Indian cuisine (apart from Paneer, as we've said, which probably merits a separate discussion)

And the Blanc example sort of proves my point. French chefs before have tinkered with Asian flavours and spices. Normally it comes down to a tentative sprinkle of curry in the cream sauce for the scallops. The dish is then called "Coquilles al la creme avec Epices Orientale" or some such. In other words, Indian food Frenchified. The truth is French chefs don't have a clue about how spicing really works, and what indian food is all about, and in fairness they do not pretend to. But I'm not going to pretend that putting cheese in a Naan is an advance or a development on Naan whatsoever either. It is a detraction from the beauty of great Indian bread to put cheese in it and that is why the great majority of Indian chefs would never dream of doing it. if it enhanced the cuisine, they would.


Edited by Tonyfinch (log)

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Tonyfinch: No creative Indian chef in the UK or anywhere else in the world gets creative with CHEESE. Apart from your chap, apparently (could you elaborate on him?)

I'll do better than that for you, Tony, I'll ask some of the Indian/Bengali/Pakistani chefs I know what they think of using local ingredients in their cuisine. And, yes, I'll specifically ask about cheese. As for Kayani, whilst I can't talk of his personal details, I'll ask him for some of his thoughts with regard to this. I'll get back to you with his comments right here as soon as I can.

Tonyfinch:I'm not going to pretend that putting cheese in a Naan is an advance or a development on Naan whatsoever either. It is a detraction from the beauty of great Indian bread to put cheese in it and that is why the great majority of Indian chefs would never dream of doing it. if it enhanced the cuisine, they would.

Tony! In this very thread - you mentioned a notable indian restaurant iin London called Zaika and had this to say

Tonyfinch:very upmarket Central London restaurants such as Zaika and Tamarind, which do have skillful and original chefs and which aim for Michelin stars

I had a look at their website. Guess what's on the menu?

MALAI NAAN

Naan filled with assorted cheese, onion

and chillies

£2.95

:laugh::laugh:

It's worth repeating, Tony, that I cannot understand why you are so intent on pursuing this argument. It's a nonsense to suggest that great Indian chef's will not experiment with local and unusual ingredients to advance and develop their cuisine. Why the hell wouldn't they?

And, in light of the first quote of yours in this post, aren't those Zaika chefs - aiming for Michelin stars no less - both working and creating right here in the UK? Gulp: with cheese?

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Yes but I think you'll find that malai in this case is a kind of paneer-which I've already cited as an exception. It was the use of European style cheese I was talking about.

You see I don't have a problem with chefs using local ingredients,. Cafe Spice Namaste in London has Tandoori Duck, and marinated Venison and is one of my favourite upscale Indian restaurants. Salmon is fish plentifully available and can be used in place of another fish. It is when an ingredient is introduced which goes against the fundamental tenets of the cuisine that I question it.

Would you expect to find pork on the menu in a Jewish restaurant? Would you expect to find cheese in a Japanese or Chinese restaurant? What about fermented fish paste in an Italian restaurant? How about dog in an English restaurant? Or if that's too extreme-donkey, or horse?

Its not about being reluctant to experiment, its about experimenting while still respecting the integrity of the cuisine's cultural framework.

But I admit I've laboured the point now. Tell me more about these chefs you know.


Edited by Tonyfinch (log)

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Laboured? Really??


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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Laboured? Really??

Well you appered to be having trouble grasping why the answer to your original question was "no".

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I have nothing to prove..


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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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..

Hi all

I'm not an expert on Indian food and don't mean to stir this naan and cheese issue any further but thought I'd just add that we get Cheese Naan here in Malaysia!

We have a sizable Indian and Sri Lankan community here (about 10% of the population) and cheese is hardly a local ingredient.

Cheese Naan has popped up in the menus of many 'Mamak' (Indian Muslim) eateries here in the last 5 years (not in the posher Indian restaurants though). These are not fancy places but just simple everyday eateries that are found in almost every town in Malaysia. The cooks at these 'Mamak' eateries are usually from India. And the cheese used in these Cheese Naans ... I would think it would be processed cheddar slices as it's probably the only cheese that's commonly available here!

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This sounds like an extremely nastyand retrograde culinary development. At least in France you'd be sure that the cheese you put in your naan was good quality :raz: The idea of putting plastic processed cheese slices into naans, bread or burgers or anything should be discouraged at all costs and I think you should start a newspaper campaign to warn people off this non-food immediately.

Plastic cheese in food in Malaysia? Whyowhyowhy? :sad:

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Like I previously said, the cheese in the French version of the cheese nan is "Le Vache Qui Rit", a processed cheese, and hardly something the local French would ask for in a restaurant..I still think it's the restaurant owners who chose it like this, and not some French pressure. In fact, most of the time I go tomy local Indian , the French choose a nan nature, meaning a simple nan bread with no filling. I might ask the owner today, why, the cheese nan....


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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I might ask the owner today, why, the cheese nan....

Please report back on what he says.

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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.

I do remember reading an article by one of the chefs in one of the more upmarket (And authentic) london Indian restaurants (I'll try to dig it out) where he used grated mild cheddar in one of his marinades, as it was the closest he could get to a particular ingredient. I think it was probably more of a textural thing though.

I also read something were a chef was confronted by a customer asking why he used wester fish in his recipes, rather than pomfret for instance. His answer was that it is beter to use local, fresh ingredients, than something flown, frozen halfway around the world.

I think it is the techniques, philosophies and approaches to cooking that define a particular cuisine, rather than ingredients, so Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza, is definitley not indian, even if it uses an ancient moghul recipe, and uses a chapati base, whereas a dish of spiced fried trout (Don't think you get trout in india do you?) would be.

Cheese Nan is a nasty concept though!

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I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Many Tandoori marinades have some cheese in them. In India Amul cheese is used. I find baby gouda to be very similar in taste and also a very mild cheddar does fine.

Adding Cheese into marinades is about adding to the textural quality of the finished item.

And there are tons of dishes found in India where cheese has been added today. Sometimes the cheese is Paneer, and at other times good ole Amul Cheese from India.

Just the other day, someone had prepared for me traditional Indian tomato sandwiches, and into these, she had added cheese. They tasted amazing. She said that eversince avocado has found its way into the Indian markets, she now adds avocado and cheese to her old recipe for tomato sandwich. They were delicious.

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MALAI NAAN

Naan filled with assorted cheese, onion

and chillies

£2.95

I have just hung up after a pleasant and not too short a telephone conversation with Sanjay Dwivedi, Head Chef at Zaika under Vineet Bhatia.

Well, the Malai Naan is indeed made with cheese other than Paneer. There is actually no Paneer in it. And this is nothing new, even as a kid when I would dine with my parents and friends at small banquets, the chefs would make us similar naans using cheese but not paneer.

Zaikas Malai Naan has taken the Indian version of contemporary cheese naan a step further, and added to the cheese inclusion an assortment of cheeses that has changed the end product and given it Vineet Bhatias signature.

There are a total of 3 cheeses. I shall not write their names just yet. I shall ask the chef permission before doing so. And also in the mix are fresh chiles, chile powder and cilantro.

Other Indian chefs in India and overseas also use Cheddar, Mozarella and other cheeses in ther repertoire and have done so for quite some time. Some have used it even without many customers never picking up on it. It has been a part of the Indian kitchen so to speak for about a couple of decades now.

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okay - enough talk about naan, cheese, pork and east indians!

let's talk about the bread (breads) closest to my heart - dosas and idlis.

living in the Northern US made it quite difficult to ferment the flours for dosas and idlis - in my house we had a micro right above a self-cleaning oven, so one trick we developed was to put the oven in cleaning mode and leave the pot with the batter in the micro so the ambient heat would help ferment it. Does anybody else have soem workarounds - both my parents and I live in the South now and temperatures bode well for fermenting the batter in the summer, but not the winter.

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living in the Northern US made it quite difficult to ferment the flours for dosas and idlis - in my house we had a micro right above a self-cleaning oven, so one trick we developed was to put the oven in cleaning mode and leave the pot with the batter in the micro so the ambient heat would help ferment it.

I use a similar trick myself. I turn on the oven at my lowest setting, leave it on for 5 minutes and then turn it off. I then leave the pilot light inside the oven turned on -- that seems to provide enough warmth for the Dosa batter to ferment perfectly.

I use the same technique when making Yougurt...

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      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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