I would go so far as to say that it joins the list of those traditional snacks, like namak paras, or atta laddus (so rich, but highly desirable!) that are generally kept around the house, especially during exams or vacations.
The best bread, ever.
Also known as Ajwain Patta (‘carom-leaf’) because it’s succulent leaves have the distinct aroma of carom seeds, or ajwain, though this is not the ajwain plant.
It is often used as a herbal home remedy for coughs and cold, or used as a culinary herb (as in this recipe), in dishes like thambli and the like. It is conveniently easy to grow from cuttings and low maintenance. At least it is in most parts of India.
Though it is looks and tastes like a regular wholewheat bread, this one also has some whole red rice flour and ground flax seeds in it. Both the texture and flavour of this bread are excellent.
Note: I used a pan that was a bit too large, the only one free at the time, so the loaf, though well risen, was rectangular rather than square! So it appears brick-like, but it is not a brick by any means.
See the crumb up close, to get an idea!
|The rich colours of the red rice flour and flax meal add further depth to the wholewheat flour, flecked generously with the herb.|
Even the plain bread tastes delicious. Makes for great toast.
Tastes great plain. toasted, in sandwiches or even panfried with some fresh home-made butter as a snack which i packed as here in this picture.
Note: This is the second of five posts, the first of which was featured here, which includes a product from my organic textile range Greener Grasses. It is a bit of an old story, so I won’t go into all the details! Although I did picture the series in a row, I’m bringing them up non-sequentially. What prompted me this time was the near-scare I recently received of nearly losing all my archived pictures! So expect three more posts (at least) very fast, with products from some of my favorite projects in home linen from Greener Grasses. (And henceforth, regular posts because of my near-scare!) 😀
And yet, healthy!
Made with a baked, wholewheat cracker base and topped with boiled potatoes, yoghurt,
tangy and sweet chutneys, this is a conveniently portable take on the much-loved
famous street food – the ‘dahi-papdi chaat’.
- Wholewheat Tarts for the base: 10-12 pieces (recipe here)
- Potatoes: 5-6 large, Boiled, Peeled and Sliced
- Fresh, plain yoghurt (thick, not sour, preferably home-made): 1 or 1 1/2 cup (as required)
- Sonth or Red chutney (Sweet-sour-spicy, made with tamarind and jaggery): 1/2 cup
- Fresh Pudina (Mint) Green chutney: 1/2 cup
- Fresh, finely chopped coriander/dhaniya patta/cilantro leaves: 1/4 cup
- Fresh, finely chopped, spicy green chillies: 2-3 nos (Optional; only if you like it very hot!)
- Boiled Chickpeas: 1/2 cup White (Kabuli chana), or local black or green. (Optional)
- Sprouted moong or any other sprouts of choice: 1/2 cup (Optional, recommended)
- Other toppings like roasted pumpkin seeds, chironji, raisins, etc.: 1/4 cup each as desired (All Optional)
- Salt: to taste
- Black Salt/Kala Namak: to taste
- Roasted Cumin (Bhuna Jeera) powder: to taste
- Paprika/Red Chilly powder: to taste
- Chat Masala: to taste (Home-made version, or commercial, – sold as such. Organic brands are available)
NOTE: For the last 5 dry powder ingredients, a sprinkle-top bottle or container will be convenient.
Or else, keep handy in small bowls to pinch and sprinkle-on the required amount during ‘assembly’.
|Mise en Place.|
|More green chutney, or red. Less chilly-powder, more potatoes, still more yoghurt. It can all be customised to individual preferences.|
These colours are, just by chance, befitting the holiday season.
(Makes around one dozen medium-sized shells, plus extra end-bits for straws):
- Atta (Wholewheat flour): 1 cup
- Ajwain (Carom seeds): 1/4 teaspoon (or to taste). Optional, or use any spice/herb/seasoning of choice.
- Oil: 2 Tablespoons (I used cold-pressed, organic, groundnut oil. Can substitute with ghee/butter, if not vegan.)
This can be doubled for an even richer, more crumbly (khasta/खस्ता) result.
I used 2 TBS here. (Quadrupling it will make shortbread)
- Salt: 1/2 teaspoon
- Chiroti sooji (Super-fine wheat semolina): 2 Tablespoons, Optional. Again, add this only if a more brittle crumb is desired, like when making a slightly thicker crust.
- Mix the dry ingredients together.
- Add in the oil/fat.
- Rub the fat into the mix till it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Add the barest minimum cold water by tablespoonfuls, and mix it in.
- Keep adding more water bit by bit. In picture 5, the process is almost done, though still too crumbly to roll out.
- So I add just a bit more water, till the dough comes together, to make a very stiff dough.
The exact quantity of water required might vary each time; here I used about 5 TBS (75ml) totally.
This is important, the crust needs to be very thin.
Much elbow grease will be much required!
|A motley collection of various moulds pressed into service!
The flat ones are crackers.
Here are the baked shells, they are perfectly done.
But I like them to be JUST a teensy bit browner that this, so I’m going to pop them into the oven again for just a few more minutes to get that perfect shade of brown-ness.
A friend was inquiring, – during a discussion about why I was switching to stainless steel, and whether aluminium was really all that bad, – about how the tray component affected the end result, since SS isn’t as good a conductor of heat as Al, and well, here they are. The plain-edged shells were baked on inverted stainless steel cups, and actually turned out crisper! (Though, just for the record, some things like pita bread, for eg., do bake better on my Aluminium cookie sheet than on the SS one. So it’s not a clear winner. I still do have plenty of Al bakeware from long ago, not planning to replace most of them anytime soon.
END OF SMALL DIGRESSION]
In they go again for just a few minutes.
And NOW they’re just perfect, I say!
(Feel free to skip this last step if you’re not so picky about the colour)
Could eat them right away!
Whenever I want a super-quick accompaniment to chai, (and who doesn’t?), this is one of my favorite things to make.
These crisps taste great on their own just as they are. But they are also excellent chips to go with any kind of dip. An accompaniment to the accompaniment, so to speak!
I tried them with some fresh, home-made pesto. Yum.
This version is ultra quick for me because I usually have fresh chapati dough readily at hand in the fridge (since I knead one or two days worth every time), but even if you don’t, you can always try the shortcut version of kneading a small portion.
Or better yet, if making from scratch anyway, try Method 2 (similar to this).
15. Cool, and serve. Or store in an airtight jar for upto a few days.
So, in effect, all I’ve really done is cut up a parantha and baked the pieces instead of griddle frying it as a whole. 😀
And it works beautifully.
Try it with other herbs or spices for variety.
Great as a quick nibble or toddler snack. (Healthy, wholegrain, preservative-free, home-made!)
Or, as a chip with a dip. Try any chutney, salsa or yoghurt dip to keep it healthy. Here with home-made pesto, – equally great.
Other optional, but highly recommended acccompaniments, chai and nice sunset view.
Great with some piping hot ginger chai!
|I find that these cookies turn out perfectly fine even if I don’t grease the tray, nor do I line it.
|I find that these cookies turn out perfectly fine even if I don’t grease the tray, nor do I line it.|
Organic, wholewheat pasta. At it’s simplest best.
Dressed in just garlic and olive oil. (Or “aglio e olio” in Italian.)
This is the version of spaghetti that I love the most.
It’s been a few years since this has replaced the original (the earlier favorite!) of white spaghetti tossed in butter and garlic.
But I admit, the search for the “healthier” alternative was not smooth and easy.
And, since pasta is only an occasional dish in our household, the trials, with most of the earliest versions being simply unexciting, took still longer.
Did I say wholewheat pasta was unexciting? No longer true.
These days it is possible to get high quality 100% organic, wholewheat pastas that are pretty much as good as their ‘refined’ counterparts.
With colours ranging from beige to tan, some are nearly identical to the white pasta, while some are “nuttier”, “earthier”, chewier, more grainy, but delicious nonetheless. And lend themselves well to experiments with innovative sauces!
There are even pastas made with many interesting and nutritious combinations like ragi, millet, oats, chickpea and other grains for variety!
1. When in doubt, opt for the “thinner, stringier” types of wholewheat pasta (eg. spaghetti) as opposed to the thicker types (like penne) because they are less likely to spring surprises, texture-wise.
2. Watch out for slightly bitter overtones in some of the mixed-millet varieties.
And why would anyone even want a recipe, let alone a step-by-step for such a simple, uncomplicated dish? Well, it’s a nice “reminder” of how easy too, Italian cooking can be!
And meanwhile, I have enjoyed making, documenting, and subsequently eating it of course.
So here we go.
(All organic ones, if you can manage it.)
1. Wholewheat Pasta: 200 gms
2. Good quality extra virgin olive oil: 1-2 TBS (or, to taste! – I used 1Tbs.)
3. Garlic pods: 5-6 (peeled and finely chopped)
4. Parsley: 1-2 small sprigs finely chopped (optional; I left this out.)
Cook the pasta according to package instructions.
Bring the salted water to boil in a pot.
Holding all the spaghetti from one end, immerse the other end into the pot of boiling water.
As it softens in the water, keep steadily immersing the rest of the length..
Bit by bit…
Turning it around to fit into the pot….
Until it’s all in.
Cook as per the time instructed.
The cooking time on the packaging is a pretty good estimate of the right time it takes to be perfectly “al dente” (chewy to bite) – but pressing a strand (the way you would a grain of rice being cooked) is also a good way to find out, if you forgot to keep track. It should be cooked, but firm.
Drain completely (no need to reserve the cooking liquid this time),
into a colander.
I place the steaming strands back into the empty pot to minimise heat and moisture loss while it waits..
In a wok or pan, heat the oil,
Toss in the cooked spaghetti and mix well.
And that’s it. It’s done.
Add some freshly milled pepper if you wish, and also the Parsley, if using, into the”Carb Heaven”.
If you add some chilly flakes (ideally at the garlic-sauteeing stage), but I add it at the table because of varied preferences, –
– then you have “Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino” (“spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and chili peppers” in Italian)!
Dig (into) that!
and a small scoop of wholewheat flour.
This time, I’m making the dough for a couple of namak-ajwain paranthas, (quick snack for Y1 and Y2) so I also add about a1/2 teaspoon each of salt and ajwain (carom) seeds.
(For making just plain atta, skip this and the next step.)
Stir to mix the dry ingredients a bit.
Add water, a little at a time –
Use the spoon to mix it in.
I tend to use a circular motion while turning the spoon around the bowl – a bit like a mixer (though not that fast!), and mash it well so that all the water is absorbed.
Keep adding more water, bit by bit.
And continue the process of stirring and mashing (it helps to have a “grip-able” bowl and spoon!) till all the final remaining dry atta gets mopped up in this way.
Almost done. When this gets kneaded it will be slightly stiff –
– so I add just a last little bit of water,
– that also ought to ‘clean up’ the last of the flour,
and also make the dough nice and pliable.
a final good mix (it will take a bit of effort now)
And, still using the spoon, roll it into a nice ball of dough.
And you can still keep hands off,
by scooping out a small ball (Loi) – just the size for the roti/parantha,
and dropping it into the flour
to coat it well, so that it doesnt’ stick when being rolled out.
Easy, wasn’t it? All ready to be rolled out into a roti.
The next step would be to graduate to actual kneading – which can even be done with the individual “loi” merely by rolling it into a sausage doubling it up and rolling it out a couple of times before making the ball. Here it is, below, looking a bit silkier after it’s thus kneaded, also ready to be rolled out into a roti.
Don’t forget to give out some bits to nearby children for the Very Important job of making wicks and other dough artwork.
Take some regular drinking/cooking water…..
And add a small quantity into the flour.
Mix the two well, using either your hand or, initially, a spoon/fork.
Keep adding the water, a little at a time, until it all comes together. Mash it well, using the collected dough to sponge off any flour or water still in the bowl.
If you were using the spoon/fork, at some point midway you might have found it necessary to switch to using your hand.
The dough needs to be soft and pliable, but not too slack and not too hard. Typically, the dough of regular oven-baked bread loaves is much more slack by comparison.
A little more water will get easily absorbed at this stage if the dough is too hard, or some extra sprinkle of flour can be worked in if it is too slack. Such adjustments will not be very efficient at a later stage. Although refrigerating a slack dough will help make it easier to work with, as a remedial measure.
And why should it be kneaded, you might ask, it looks pretty much ready, doesn’t it?
1. You don’t have to, of course. I’ve used dough that’s at this stage and it works, although the rotis/paranthas tend to be a bit “brittle” – meaning pieces will “break off” more than “tear off”. But that’s ok if you’re in a ‘tearing’ hurry, or simply can’t be bothered to do any further.
2. Or, you could just leave it to sit a half hour or longer (covering with a damp muslin or an inverted bowl) and let time do the job. Which, by the way, is to make the dough more elastic by kneading (‘working’ the dough develops the protein called gluten and makes it a stretchy network.)
3. Or, you could just knead it. It will make your job easier and provide nicer rotis. Besides, it’s one of the simple pleasures (almost therapeutic) in the kitchen to use your hands to do something like this and actually feel the texture changing.
Keep repeating this action over and over, – with a little pummeling now and then, if you like, – until
the dough takes on a fine, silky appearance. Ideally let this “sit” for a while, say at least fifteen minures to half an hour or so, covered with a damp muslin or an inverted bowl.
And you’re good to go.