Aloo paratha or unleavened potato-stuffed bread

This dish takes me back to my school days. There were 4 of us in what we called our “gang” but there’s only so much a “gang” can do for fun in an all-girls Catholic school so we were a pretty harmless “gang”. One of the gang members’ mum would make this every time we went over to her place and it was the yummiest thing ever. Every now and then, she would bring it to school as lunch. and the other two (not me) would somehow get to it before she did and finish it off. I didn’t care much for writing down recipes back then so this one is my take on aloo paratha. Hope you like it.

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Aloo paratha ready to eat

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Kulich or Russian Easter sweet bread

THIS RECIPE IS NOT MY OWN !!

The long Easter weekend was a very busy one in my kitchen and I made this on Easter Monday as the grand finale dish. I found it on a blog that I follow that has some very interesting Russian recipes. The bread was more like a cake and was amazing as it came out of the oven.  We ate it all up in the week to follow so I’d say it was as success.

Source: http://russianmomcooks.com/2012/03/30/russian-friday-kulich/

Notes:

1. It is a very nice recipe but be warned that it takes a while to make. I started at 9 in the morning and the cake was ready at 3:30pm.

2. There are 3 stages of rising so don’t rush it – it is worth the wait.

3. “Poolish” is the French name for a fermentation starter.

 

Changes:

1. I halved the recipe to get one standard loaf tin worth of cake.

2.  I used only 1/2 the recommended sugar in the recipe.

3. I didn’t have rum so used brandy instead.

4. I used sultanas and slivered almonds which went quite nicely in the cake.

5. I didn’t use any icing as neither my partner nor I care much for it.

 

Tips and Avoiding mishaps:

1. To make the batter rise on a cold English day, I used my old trick of keeping the oven at 50 degrees while mixing the ingredients and then turning it off just before placing the bowl in it. Worked like a charm (Pictures 9, 20 and 23).

2. The batter rises a LOT as I learnt the hard way (Picture 23). So do use a deep dish if you can. If not, build a strong baking paper and silver foil fortress in your baking dish before pouring the batter in it.

3. I found all the raisins settle in the bottom layer of the cake (Picture 27 – it is upside down so the raisins are on top). There were 2 reasons for this

(a) I forgot to add the raisins to the batter before pouring it into my loaf tin so don’t do that

(b) I’ve always dusted raisins/fruit in flour before mixing it into batter which I again forgot as I was following the recipe religiously.

So toss the fruit in half a cup of flour before adding them to the batter and this will make sure they are evenly spread through the cake/bread.

4. I put half a cup of brandy into the fruit and this made for a very boozy cake so don’t go overboard.

5. The cake got a bit dry after the first couple of days so store it in a really airtight container if you can.

Kulich – Russian sweet bread
1. Heat milk and water until luke warm 2. Sprinkle dry, active yeast on top of the milk 3. Frothed up yeast after 20 minutes 4. Add a cup of flour to a large bowl 5&6. Soak sultanas and slivered almonds in brandy/rum 7 & 8. Add the yeast to the flour and mix well to make a thick batter 9. Let the poolish/starter rise for an hour in a warm place 10. Melt 125gms of butter 11. Separate 3 eggs into small bowls 12 & 13. Beat eggs yolks and ½ cup of sugar until thick and creamy 14. Make sure the butter has melted completely 15. Beat the egg whites to a stiff peak 16. Add the remaining flour and egg yolk mix to the poolish and combine 17. Add the melted butter and combine 18 & 19. Finally incorporate the egg whites into the batter using a metal spoon 20. Let the batter rise in a warm place for 1.5 hrs 21 & 22. Mix in the sultanas/almonds and pour into a loaf tin lined really high with non-stick paper 23. The batter is allowed to rise again for an hour and the paper fortress fails to hold 24. Silver-foil reinforced loaf tin 25. Cake after baking for 45 minutes 26 & 27. Remove cake from loaf tin, peel off the baking paper and eat while warm.

Hot Cross Buns

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.

Hot Cross Buns

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Sanjeev Kapoor’s Spicy chickpea rotis (unleavened bread)

THIS IS NOT MY OWN RECIPE!!

Another one of my favourite Indian chef’s recipes. I bought myself a book called “How to cook Indian” and was terribly disappointed not to see any pictures in it.  However, the recipes I’ve tried so far have yielded great results and this roti recipe is one of them.   These rotis (flatbread) are  crispy because of the chickpea flour well spiced so you can eat them on their own as a snack. A smear of butter on a hot roti will not go amiss !

Spicy chickpea flour and fenugreek rotis

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Blueberry and raspberry scones

THIS RECIPE IS ADAPTED FROM BBC FOOD !!

Last week, I acquired a bottle of red gooseberry jam from a colleague at work. I’d never seen/heard of or tasted red gooseberry before. Growing up in India, I’d seen and bitten into green gooseberries with my childhood friends. These berries called “Nelli-kai” in Kannada would make us all screw our faces into a knot as the sourness stung the backs of our mouths. However, mum would turn them into a wonderfully spicy Indian pickle with chilli and mustard and fenugreek and that’s the only form I’d eaten and liked it in. I thought it was time to give this other kind of gooseberry a try.

Scones – ready to eat

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Moist Banana and Walnut bread

THIS RECIPE IS NOT MY OWN !!

Source: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/betterbananabread

Notes: It does make a very very moist banana bread

Changes

1. I made a flatter loaf and 6 regular muffins with the same batter

2. I used 2/3 cup of brown sugar and a tablespoon of golden syrup for sweetening

3. I used half a cup of chopped walnuts to add crunch

4. I used 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice instead of cinnamon

5. For the muffins, I made a lemon- cream cheese icing. Combine the rind of 1/2 large lemon, juice of half a large lemon, 2 tablespoons cream cheese and 1/2 cup of icing sugar. Mix well until no lumps remain. Spread on muffin/cake of choice.

Pictures:

Baked good in their trays; Sliced very moist banana bread; Muffins with lemon icing
Banana bread and muffins

Olive, herb and chilli bread (based on Delia Smith’s simple white bread recipe)

My partner loves home-made bread and everytime I make a loaf, it is gone before I notice. This works for me as I’m not a huge fan of bread but I do enjoy baking it. It’s a win-win situation for both parties here. The recent snow  and cold snap made me want to test the limits of my oven-risen bread technique. The good news is that it still works.

The bread recipe is based on Delia’s Plain and Simple white bread http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/bread/plain-and-simple-white-bread.html with my additions to it.

The bread has risen; Bottom is cooked and sounds hollow; Profile of the bread; Olive herb and chilli bread being eaten

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