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hitchmeer

Breads (and a tag on question about Raita)

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My friend and I have been getting together weekly to make different curry dishes and try out new recipes. Generally we will make chapatis along with the meal to have with apricot chutney. We are wanting to try other breads to go with our meals - any suggestions?

Also, I was making a cucumber raita to go with cumin scented chicken. I was wondering first of all how hot this is supposed to be - our recipe called for 1 fresh green chilli seeded and chopped (along with 1/2 a cucumber, 1 1/4 cups yogurt, 1/4 t salt and 1/4 tsp cumin)? The reason I asked was because in spite of the presence of the chilli, it didn't seem inordinately hot to me (I suppose the yogurt has a cooling effect). Second, is raita only a meat accompaniment? Thanks for any help!

Matthew

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Welcome to eGullet Matthew. :smile:

Glad to see that you have found the Indian forum.

ClickHERE to check out the recent thread on breads. If you have any further questions, please feel free to post on it. I am sure our members will answer as best as they can.

As for raita, I am posting below links to the various threads that you may find of interest. If you need any more recipes for breads or raitas, please feel free to email me at chef@suvir.com. I would be happy to send you more recipes.

Dahi (yogurt)

Cucumber Raita

Raita

Raita/Cold Soup

Raita - Is there a favorite kind?

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Suvir:

Thanks for all of the links. I'm anxious to look more closely at the messages. Looks like a lot of great recipes! A few years ago, I tried a Persian naan recipe from a Julia Childs cookbook on baking (the contibuting bakers were Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid). I remember liking this recipe. It was very basic and satisfying and topped with sesame seeds. In the book I've been using now there is a recipe for naan, but it looks considerably different from the type I made. The earlier recipe had you stretch the bread and pock it with your finger tips - it also contained no fat. In the new book, the naan appears puffier and calls for ghee and poppy seeds. The new book I am using is called " Best-ever Curry Cookbook" by Mridula Baljekar and my friend and I have been enjoying every recipe we've tried so far.

The other bread recipes in this book are for: red lentil pancakes, parathas, missi rotis, tandoori rotis, pooris, and bhaturas. I haven't tried any of these yet because I wanted to compare them to the recipes I found here. If you could send your recipes for these as well as your recommendations as to which ones you like best and what types of foods and condiments they best compliment, that would be great! In the meantime, I'll check out the threads of the other postings. What a great resource this site is.

Hungrily :laugh: ,

Matthew

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My bread recipes have been emailed your way. Hope you enjoy cooking with them and the other recipes you have.

Do keep us posted about your Indian break making adventure. :smile:

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Today I made a recipe called Oasis Naan. It called for a topping of scallions, caraway or cumin seeds (I used caraway) and salt. They came out quite nice. Not only did everyone at work like them (I work in a bakery in Minnesota - everyone is encouraged to try new breads and pastries), but they were also popular at a pre-Father's Day celebration at my parents' house. I'm anxious to try the recipes you sent me, Suvir. Thank you once more.

Matthew In Minnesota

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Today I made a recipe called Oasis Naan.  It called for a topping of scallions, caraway or cumin seeds (I used caraway) and salt.  They came out quite nice.  Not only did everyone at work like them (I work in a bakery in Minnesota - everyone is encouraged to try new breads and pastries), but they were also popular at a pre-Father's Day celebration at my parents' house.  I'm anxious to try the recipes you sent me, Suvir.  Thank you once more.

Matthew In Minnesota

Do you work in the kitchen or in the front?

I am assuming in the kitchen, since you baked Naans. What are some of the things you bake daily?

Nice to have you in our midst "Matthew In Minnesota".

Keep us posted about your Indian bread adventure.

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I work in the back bakery of Cafe Latte - a restaurant/ bakery/wine and pizza bar in St. Paul, Mn. I bake a variety of bread and scones everyday. Our daily loaves include, Pan de Casa - a light, yeasted sourdough, Whole Wheat, Baguettes, St. Paul Sourdough, Focaccia, 10-Grain, and Dakota Seed. In addition, we usually make a sweet bread (I made one of my favorites this weekend - Finnish Coffee - an egg-rich bread sweetened with honey, maple syrup and molasses, swimming in toasted pecans, and marbled with cardamom, cinnamon, and fresh ground espresso beans

- the entire bakery smells fantastic when it's baking in the oven! :smile:), as well as a savory bread (such as Canadian Harvest with wild rice, carrots and onions).

As far as scones go, I make traditional (a very basic, buttermilk scone - similar to a flaky biscuit), English Currant, some type of berry scone with streusel topping, and usually another berry type containing white or milk chocolate.

If anyone is ever visiting the Twin Cities area, please feel free to come visit me at the restaurant!

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Suvir:

At home, I'll be doing some Indian cooking with my friend this Sunday and I'll be trying a new Indian bread recipe from the selection that you sent to me. I'll let you know how both the bread and the entire meal come out.

Matthew in Minnesota

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Suvir:

At home, I'll be doing some Indian cooking with my friend this Sunday and I'll be trying a new Indian bread recipe from the selection that you sent to me.  I'll let you know how both the bread and the entire meal come out.

Matthew in Minnesota

Thanks for sharing with us a little about you and your work. :smile:

Looking forward to reading more from you across the site.

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Tonight I tried the recipe for Bhaturas that you sent me, Suvir. They were delicious. I made them to go with a recipe from the South India section of my cookbook. The recipe was simply called "Chilli Meat with Curry Leaves" and was from the state of Andhra Pradesh. We made it with beef, hot curry paste, coconut milk, onions and garlic among other ingredients. The recipe called for fresh curry leaves, but we only had dried. The book informed us that fresh is always preferable with curry leaves. The meal was amazing despite the dried leaves. My question: what difference would I have tasted had I been able to get the fresh curry leaves?

Along with this and the bhaturas, we made a fruit raita with bananas, grapes, walnuts and cumin. I was sceptical about this as I didn't know how the taste combination would be. IT WAS AMAZING!!! My stomach is still very happy after this meal. Are there other fruits used in a fruit raita?

Matthew in Minnesota

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I've been reading this thread and the earlier Indian bread threads highlighted and was rather disappointed to find that its got such a strong North Indian focus. I suppose that's inevitable since most people posting here seem to be from outside India and Indian food outside India does tend to be dominated by North Indian food.

Whatever the reason it needs correcting, not just because there are many breads from other parts of the country, but also because they are so delicious. Many of the breads, particularly those from Western India are really delicious and healthy multigrain breads, while for lightness and delicacy _nothing_ can compare to pathiri, rice flour flatbread from the Kerala Muslim community. Compared to these many North Indian breads can seem pretty greasy and leaden (yes, I'm not a great fan of North Indian things - how did you guess...).

Someone excluded dosas, which are well known, which I guess means the thread is focussing on flatbreads made from dough rather than batter. So lets exclude all products based on fermented rice flour batter like dosas, iddlies, addai, appams, panniyaram, pesarattu, Mangalorean neer dosa and Goan sannas. Lets also stick to griddle or tandoor baked breads which means excluding steamed breads like Kerala puttu or iddiyappams (string hoppers).

That would still leave you with:

- pathiri - very fine and delicate white chappati like breads made from rice flour. They're a speciality of the Moplahs - Kerala Muslim community and according to one of my Malayali aunts, impossible to make by anyone other than a Mplah woman.

- parotta - as the name suggests, this is sort of the Kerala version of parathas, but the way its made it turns out all flaky in a way very different from parathas. (They are also called Ceylon parathas). To get an idea of what they look like check this link:

http://www.kairalee.com/recipes/vegetarian/parotta.htm

- vade - a Konkani (Western Indian) dish that looks like thick puris, but are much tastier and healthier since they are made from a rice and lentil dough. Not to be confused with wadas, which are fried lentil flour cakes, often, but not always, doughnut shaped.

- rotlis - the Gujarati version of chapattis, but much thinner and finer due to the liberal use of ghee while making them. Rotlis are made from wheat flour, but there are variations on this like Parsi chokha ni rotli made from rice flour. Parsis have some breads of their own like papeta-na-paratha which is like alu-parathas.

- thalipith - this is a really outstanding Maharashtrian multigrain bread. Its made from the flour of at least four grains - wheat, rice, millet, sorghum, plus chickpea flour as well (in Bombay you can buy the flours readymixed) which are all kneaded with onions, chillies, coriander leaves and ghee to a thick dough and then baked on a griddle. Its fantastic especially when eaten with chickpea flour curry (besan-ka-pitla). There's also an interesting upvas or 'fasting' version meant to be eaten during religious festivals when certain cereals aren't supposed to be eaten so you use substitutes like tapioca.

If people are interested I could post recipes for these, though not my own. I find these breads - like all breads I guess - really difficult to make. The simplicity of the ingredients means that the real secret is in the technique - the lightness of touch with which the dough is kneaded and rollod out, the speed of cooking. Some of them, I think, can only really be made well in large quantities which is why they are best eaten in restaurants or sometimes at weddings where they made by professional caterers. Still, some like thalipith are so good that they are certainly worth trying,

Vikram

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Vikram:

Thanks for the post! I'm anxious to try some of these breads as well. My own interest in Indian cuisine and in particular Indian breads is fairly new, so I'm always interested in learning new things and trying new recipes. If you have any, I'd love to try them.

Matt

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Vikram,

Thanks for the most wonderful post. Please share the recipes if you can. Many of us here will be most thankful.

We should do a thread on Southern Indian Breads (excluding flatbreads) so we can include all those great breads that we have had to leave out here. Would you start one please? :smile:

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- thalipith - this is a really outstanding Maharashtrian multigrain bread. Its made from the flour of at least four grains - wheat, rice, millet, sorghum, plus chickpea flour as well (in Bombay you can buy the flours readymixed) which are all kneaded with onions, chillies, coriander leaves and ghee to a thick dough and then baked on a griddle. Its fantastic especially when eaten with chickpea flour curry (besan-ka-pitla). There's also an interesting upvas or 'fasting' version meant to be eaten during religious festivals when certain cereals aren't supposed to be eaten so you use substitutes like tapioca.

Vikram,

I have always enjoyed visiting Aunts (related or friends of the family) whilst they are fasting. One finds the most amazing foods on those days in their homes. As you said, one would often find breads made with grains and flours that one would never see on other days. The idea being you give up what you are used to.

I was amazed when I saw Dragon Fruit in Singapore. I took some back to India. Panditji our chef, was not impressed, he had it growing wild in his part of UP (Uttar Pradesh) and they would use the tiny black seeds to make a flour that would be used to make breads for upvas/vrats.

What versions of these breads are you familiar with? Did you grow up eating some that you really loved?

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Vikram: Very good overview of West and South - I agree that the discussion here tends to be North India centric. As you correctly point out, many of the breads are very difficult to find in restaurants here in the US, one does find reference made to them at homes of folks from South and West here in US.


anil

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I have always enjoyed visiting Aunts (related or friends of the family) whilst they are fasting. One finds the most amazing foods on those days in  their homes.  As you said, one would often find breads made with grains and flours that one would never see on other days.  The idea being you give up what you are used to.

So it's not a foodless, drinkless fast like Yom Kippur, more like Lent for Catholics?


Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan

 

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

QUOTE (Suvir Saran @ Jun 16 2003, 08:39 AM)

I have always enjoyed visiting Aunts (related or friends of the family) whilst they are fasting. One finds the most amazing foods on those days in  their homes.  As you said, one would often find breads made with grains and flours that one would never see on other days.  The idea being you give up what you are used to. 

So it's not a foodless, drinkless fast like Yom Kippur, more like Lent for Catholics?

No, as Suvir says, most Indian fasts (barring some of the extreme Jain fasts) are based on the principle of giving up a few things, which has lead to a great deal of ingenuity with the ingredients one can use.

Looking at more than just fasts, one could almost argue that one of the most interesting features of Indian cooking is the way the many religious taboos have spurred creativity in the choice and use of ingredients. (Perhaps in the same way as Jewish cooking?)

So Jain food could easily sound like the most bleak and austere cuisine: no meats obviously, but also no root vegetables (might kill animals while digging them up), no leafy vegetables in the monsoons (that's then there are animals likely to be living in them), no food kept overnight (since it becomes too 'alive') which rules out any long fermented products and so on.

Yet Jain food is wonderful, delicious and inventive (and also quite healthy). The best gatte-ke-saag, curried chickpea dumplings, I have ever eaten comes from a Jain household I know and there are hundreds of other dishes like that. You will always eat very well in a Jain household.

(The other interesting aspect of such proscriptions is that Jain food is acceptable to other communities which also follow dietary restrictions, but almost never as severe as the Jains. So in Antwerp where Gujarati Jains and Orthodox Jews work side by side in the diamond business, the Jews often are quite happy to eat with the Jains at weddings and functions though, of course, not vice versa [but the Jews are apparently hiring Jain caterers for their events].

(Or there's now a sizeable community of Israeli students who come backpacking in India after their military service and apparently one of the attractions is that for the observant, food is less of a problem that elsewhere since Indian vegetarian food qualifies as kosher).

But coming back to the fasting questions, there are many other interesting dishes that are cooked for fasts or occasions when special diets are required. Some of these might be hard to replicate elsewhere - I don't exactly imagine that its easy to find raw jackfruit which is cooked like meat to such good effect its known as tree-goat - but others like the Maharashtrian upvas ones which use tapioca might be. I can see these being of value to people who suffer from gluten allergies.

Perhaps we should start a separate thread on fasting foods?

Vikram

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What versions of these breads are you familiar with? Did you grow up eating some that you really loved?

Most of these breads are fairly readily available in Bombay which is the other reason why I don't make them myself (apart from the fact, as I said earlier, that they aren't that easy to make). Many of the griddle breads really depend on someone making them almost directly in front of you, so I don't see them as being easy to make at home without a fulltime cook in the kitchen or in a regular bakery.

Of the ones I've listed, thalipith I eat all the time, especially with the besan ka pitla - chickpea flour curry - at Swati Snacks, the best place in Bombay for traditional vegetarian dishes of this kind. Vade is a must everytime I'm eating in a Konkani restaurant which serves the coastal seafood of this region. Rotlis are harder to get and usually require my gearing myself to pay one of my very infrequent visits to some of my Guajrati relatives over here.

Pathiri is impossible to get outside Kerala, and not that easy to find there either. You have to go to North Kerala to cities like Calicut which is the Moplah heartland. I last ate them in Palghat at the house of an aunt who hires a Moplah girl to help her in the kitchen. Parotta luckily is easier to find - its one dish that Malayalis have taken on their migration and if you ask around and find a restaurant run by Malayalis you'll find they sometimes make it for themselves.

One other type of bread I forgot to mention, is so unusual I have never even seen a recipe for it. In my family its called Neypattal and is made from a stiff rice flour dough that is made into a ball and then pinched in five corners to form a star shape and deepfried. Very delicious and looks great.

I realised there were several sweet flatbreads I forgot - the whole category of breads stuffed with some variation on sweetened chickpea flour called puran-poli. There are actually quite wide variations within this - I can think of at least four: a thick North Indian style paratha with sweet chickpea flour filling, the even thicker - almost an inch - cakelike version made by the Parsis, the small, very plump versions bursting with hot ghee made by the Gujaratis and my favourite, the large, thin, very dry puran-polis made by Maharashtrians that are eaten dipped in milk.

I'll try and post recipes for the breads I've mentioned, but as I said, in most cases I haven't tried them. The easiest will probably be thalipith, and here's a recipe from bawarchi.com which is generally quite reliable.

http://www.bawarchi.com/contribution/contrib1418.html

(Note on ingredients: I guess millet and sorghum could be used for the bajra and jowar flours, or flour from any similar grains. Besan is chickpea flour. Dhania-jeera is a coriander-cumin spice blend)

Vikram

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Vikram, many thanks for another wonderful post.

Do you live in Bombay?

Rotlis used to be one of my favorite breads whilst living in Bombay. I would go to a friends house and the women chefs in the kitchen would prepare several of them at one time, using different burners. And all of us, would have our katoris (bowls) of Amras (mango juice, but think very smooth ad very pure and VERY flavorful) and dip the rotlis into them and enjoy the alfonso ras. I had never thought of doing something like this till I discovered the wonders of Surati foods.

Gujarati foods change from region to region. India has a way of making most any search of it's makeup and what makes it tick become a task. One could not say one has enjoyed Gujarati food after a meal or two in restaurants. The best cooks, some of the best foods, some of the more uncommon foods are generally prepared in homes and areas where restaurants are not the desired place to eat. The sampling of Gujarati food one can find in restaurants in the US, is very humble and also close to mediocre if one has other options available.

Jains are some of the best homes one could go to for enjoying a vegetarian meal that is at once complex and also very simple. Simple in ingredients, the food is rich and varied in taste, textures and spicing.

Gatte Kee Sabzee is a dish most famous in Rajasthan. The Jains of Rajasthan would prepare it well, but those from Madhya Pradesh or UP or Gujarat hardly render it nicely. Gattas can be made well and can be prepared by a knowing chef to become sensational. I have only eaten the latter two times in my life. Once in Jaipur and the other preparation has been from our very own Panditji. The secret to gattas (chickpea flour cakes/dumplings) is in the beating of the batter and how much liquid to add. I must say I make very good gattas, but if I was to sample mine opposite those I ate in Jaipur and the ones Panditji makes at home, mine are good, but nothing more. My sauce comes out amazingly well (when making geela/wet version), but it is the gatta itself that takes years of training and also knowing every subtlety that one ought to know when making them. I am thrilled that you mentioned Gattas. They are one of my favorite dishes.

When I was a little boy living in Nagpur (Maharashtra), we discovered Puran Poli. I had an instant love for this sweet bread. Today, I am at a loss for why I enjoyed it, my palate has changed, or perhaps, what I ate as a child was so good, that what I eat prepared today, seems to pale in comparison. The realist in me wishes to believe that it is my palate that has changed. Not that all Puran Polis that I am eating are bad. I remember our neighbor would make very large family style Poli that was cut into portions for all of us, and still a decent amount would be left. It was amazing how flaky and yet nicely stuffed her Poli would be. I remember that no festival of Haldi KumKum would be over without us having this and Kheer.

Vikram, you have me all home sick now.:sad: You have brought back vivid and flavorful memories of India and its rich culinary traditions. Thanks! :smile:

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Vikram, many thanks for another wonderful post.

Do you live in Bombay?

Rotlis used to be one of my favorite breads whilst living in Bombay. I would go to a friends house and the women chefs in the kitchen would prepare several of them at one time, using different burners. And all of us, would have our katoris (bowls) of Amras (mango juice, but think very smooth ad very pure and VERY flavorful) and dip the rotlis into them and enjoy the alfonso ras. I had never thought of doing something like this till I discovered the wonders of Surati foods.

Yes live in Bombay, but grew up both here and in Madras and studied in Calcutta, so lucky enough to get exposure to lots of good and different cooking (I'm half Gujarati and half Malayali which helps a bit more).

You should have been in Bombay this summer since for the first time in years it didn't rain earlier on and spoil the Alphonso crop. The market was full of the most amazing mangoes at affordable rates - well, relatively affordable, since it was still around Rs400/- for two dozen, but really good ones.

I still think Alphonsos are too good to be made into aamras, or eaten any other way really, other than just chilled, but this year I was just willing to consider it!

Vikram

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Vikram.. STOP IT!! You are making all of us TERRIBLY homesick with all your nice posts..

actually.. do go on ...

I have a wonderful recipe for a cold alphonso mango soup.. if you like, I can send it your way!


Monica Bhide

A Life of Spice

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Vikram: ...So in Antwerp where Gujarati Jains and Orthodox Jews work side by side in the diamond business, the Jews often are quite happy to eat with the Jains at weddings and functions though, of course, not vice versa [but the Jews are apparently hiring Jain caterers for their events

Really !! I was in Antwerp last month - Would've loved to have tried a kosker Indian restaurant (vege.) there - Here in NYC, there is a kosher restaurant run by Gujurati family called Dimple, which I have come to like, because it serves things not found in many Indian restaurants in the city.

Maybe you should add some good restaurants in Mumbai in the restaurant list pinned on top of this sub-forum :biggrin:


anil

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In addition, we usually make a sweet bread (I made one of my favorites this weekend - Finnish Coffee - an egg-rich bread sweetened with honey, maple syrup and molasses, swimming in toasted pecans, and marbled with cardamom, cinnamon, and fresh ground espresso beans

- the entire bakery smells fantastic when it's baking in the oven! )

This sounds amazing Mathew. Is there any way we can get a recipe of sorts???? I would love to try it at home sometime.

FM


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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In addition, we usually make a sweet bread (I made one of my favorites this weekend - Finnish Coffee - an egg-rich bread sweetened with honey, maple syrup and molasses, swimming in toasted pecans, and marbled with cardamom, cinnamon, and fresh ground espresso beans

- the entire bakery smells fantastic when it's baking in the oven! )

This sounds amazing Mathew. Is there any way we can get a recipe of sorts???? I would love to try it at home sometime.

FM

Foodman:

I only have the recipe in bulk but will try and pare it down for you in my smaller mixer at work. We may actually have a home version of the recipes in our files. I'll look tomorrow. E'mail me and keep bugging me about it to remind me. :smile:

Matt

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