I had hoped to bake 12 breads -- one for each month of the year but it appears that hopes of a perfect record are moot, I missed the bread from last month - Pretzels, since I was on holiday. The good part, I got to personally deliver my excuse to Aparna Balasubramanian while on holiday in India.
The only problem with Indian holidays is that you're left with a profound longing for the delicious foods that you indulge in, long after you get back to home base, i.e, The US of A. One of the dishes I missed out on this trip was authentic Vada Pav, the kind you buy from street vendors, not in restaurants.
When the time came to bake this months bread, It didn't take long to decide what I wanted to fill it with, and tradition took a LOOONG hike into the Arabian desert! This months bread was a middle eastern classic Khaliat al Nahal ,translated as Bees Hive in Arabic for its honeycomb structure. The traditional version is a sweet one, filled with plain cream cheese & drizzled liberally with sugar syrup flavored with rose, saffron or cardamom.
And of course as usual, I tend to deliberately go the opposite direction.
This was a perfect opportunity to indulge & give in to my Vada Pav craving AND test out yet another one of Aparna's fabulous bread selections & so, here is my bread creation # 9, for the month of September. The garlic chutney that coats the vadas in each of the little honeycomb buns is entirely optional, but here's the recipe if you're interested.
Note: As intimidating as 18 servings can be, they're small 2 bite versions of the real thing, & they tend to disappear quickly. all the better since they don't taste that good, (rather stale), the next day. Finish them off the same day by sharing with friends & Family!
For the Vadas:
4 large Idaho potatoes, boiled in their skins
2 tablespoons oil for the seasoning
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 green chiles chopped coarsely
1 large clove of garlic, finely minced
1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated fine
1 sprig curry leaves, torn into small bits
1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon Red Chile powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
1 pinch turmeric powder
Plain seltzer water as needed
2 cups oil for deep frying
Peel the potatoes & crumble. Set aside
Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet. when it gets hot, add the mustard & allow it to sputter.
Add the green chiles, ginger & garlic, Saute till the garlic emanates an aroma. Add the curry leaves, stir and add the turmeric & salt. Remove from fire, mix well and add to the crumbled potatoes.
Combine the seasoning until its well distributed in the potatoes. using melon baller, scoop out potato mixture, and shape into spheres about 1 inches in diameter. Cover with a plastic wrap & refrigerate till ready to fry.
Combine the chickpea flour, baking powder,salt, turmeric & chile powder. mix with a fork to distribute the spices. Add seltzer to make a batter the consistency of pancake batter.
Heat 2 cups of oil in a cast iron pan. when it just about begins to smoke, dip the potato spheres into the batter completely coating them & drop into the hot oil. Fry till golden brown. Remove and place on a plate lined with paper towels.
Set aside 18 of the best looking vadas to cool down to room temperature, and feel free to gobble down the rest!
Khaliat Nahal Vada Pav:
You need: (for the dough)
1 cup lukewarm milk
1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups (350 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 to 1 teaspoon sea salt
40gm butter, melted
2 tablespoon milk for brushing the dough
2 tablespoon white sesame seeds for sprinkling on top (optional)
Add 2 cups of the flour, salt, and melted butter (make sure that its been cooled down, or else you run the risk of killing off the yeast) in the bowl of your stand mixer (fitted with a dough hook). Start the machine at the lowest setting couple of times to mix well.
Combine the milk, sugar and yeast in a small bowl and keep for 5 minutes. Add this to the stand mixer bowl and knead until you have a smooth and elastic dough which is not sticky. Add as much of the remaining 1/2 cup of flour as you need to get this consistency of bread dough. I used all of 2 1/2 cups of flour for mine.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning it to coat completely with the oil. Cover and let it rise till double in volume, for about an hour.
Turn the dough out onto your work surface. You won’t really need to flour it as the dough is quite manageable as it is. Cut it into 2 halves. With your palms, roll out each half a “rope” about 9” long. Cut each rope into 1” pieces (each piece should weigh approximately between 35 -40 gms, if you're particular about it.
Take each piece and flatten it out a little and place half a teaspoon of garlic chutney in the center. Place a vada in the middle of the chutney.
Pull up the sides and wrap the dough around the filling, pinching it closed at the top. Smoothen it into a round ball. Place this in a well-greased round 9” cake tin. Repeat with the remaining 17 pieces and the filling. Arrange the filled balls of dough in concentric circles, filling the base of the cake tin.
Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for about 30 to 40 minutes. Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle the sesame seeds over this. Bake the buns at 180 C (350 F) for about 25 minutes, until they’re done and a nice golden brown on top.
Let them cool in the tin for about 5 minutes and then on a wire rack.
This Bread is being Yeastspotted.