I made these delicious buns a few years ago and I thought back then that they turned out alright. I was so proud of them that I froze half of them and presented them to my partner a few months later. He ate them politely as we were newly dating but I will admit that they were a little hard and perhaps the freezer wasn’t the greatest idea.
Yes, it is the long Easter weekend and I’ve been going a bit nuts in the kitchen. I couldn’t resist the temptation to have another go at making hot cross buns. I was hoping that the wisdom of age and experience would make this batch less stone-like. In addition, I could have my partner eat them warm and straight out of the oven rather than straight out of the freezer. I consulted a few hot cross bun recipes on Google, including Nigella Lawson’s one and settled on a happy admixture of all of them. I will assume they turned out well because I made 8 buns on Friday afternoon and as of Saturday evening, there were none left.
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A couple of weeks ago, people all over India celebrated their new year. New year in March/April might sound weird but the Hindu calendar is a lunar calendar which means that it doesn’t coincide with the English calendar which is solar. The lunar calendar often means an exact date cannot be set each year so it varies each year. Whatever date it might fall on, the new year in India brings with it new clothes, new resolutions, more school holidays and lots of yummy food.
The Kannada New Year is called “Ugadi” and is celebrated all over my state of Karnataka (yes, each state also has a different day of celebration – don’t ask me why). Traditionally, this means lots of festive food including special desserts. Mum always calls to remind me what festival is on and I usually respond with “What do I cook for it?”. This time she said “Holige” and so I went ahead and made some.
Holige or Obbattu is a bread-based dessert. An authentic holige consists of dough made with a special flour called “chiroti rava” or super-fine semolina. This dough is stuffed with a mixture of fresh coconut, cardamom, jaggery (palm or unrefined sugar) and ground poppy seeds (“gasa gase” in Kannada and “khus-khus” in Hindi). The stuffed bread is rolled and cooked on a pan with a little bit of ghee or butter. Below is my attempt to make it with the ingredients I could find in my local supermarket.
Holige or pancake stuffed with coconut and palm sugar
There is a very famous Greek tavern in Melbourne’s Cebtral Business District called ‘Stalactities’. It is a Melbourne icon and a friend to all those who are still out and about at wee hours of the morning as it is open 24-7. It was here that I first tasted a gemista and my first reaction to it was ‘too minty’ and ‘too much rice’. Having grown up in a South-Indian household eating rice 3 or 4 times a day, I generally try and avoid eating it as much as I can and so this dish was a big thumbs-down.
However, in the last couple of years, I’ve started making my version of the gemista which is not so minty and has a few more flavours than just rice. I also cut the capsicums/peppers in half which in no means is traditional but ah well. The parmesan on top too isn’t very authentic but I like it and my partner hasn’t complained so far so I’ll assume he does too. I hope you like it too.