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The 'We Knead to Bake' Project 2014 - 'Komaj' (Persian date bread with turmeric & cumin)

I've racked up about 1/2 a dozen of my dishes perfected and photographed, and yet, when it comes to actually writing them up to publish them, it appears that I've been afflicted by a kind of writers block. I seem to be having a hard time trying weave in interesting anecdotes to the recipe (which has been promptly jotted down faithfully in one of my notebooks I keep stuffing into cabinets and shelves in almost every room, so that I don't forget exactly what went into it.
I get my breaks from these blocks with the baking projects thankfully. Aparna picked out a Persian bread for this month and gave an advance notice that there wasn't much historical information she could dig out, other than the fact that the recipe from Greg & Lucy Malouf's book 'Saraban' - A Chef's journey through Persia.
There was something intriguing in that combination of Cumin Cardamom, turmeric and dates, so much that I did not even try to add any of my quirky touches to the recipe.. Or did I??

Komaj: (Recipe adapted from 'Saraban' - A Chef's journey through Persia, by Greg & Lucy Malouf)

You need (for the dough) :

3 3/4 cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon active dried yeast
1/8 cup warm water
2 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups warm milk

1 1/2 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil

For the Filling:

12 to 15 dried dates, pitted and cut into chunks (the slightly soft kind)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft at room temperature
4 to 5 pods cardamom, powdered

Milk/ cream for brushing dough

Whisk in the yeast with the warm water and allow it to 'bloom' and bubble up slightly (~10 - 15 minutes). Feel free to add a sprinkle of sugar to help the process.

Sift the flour, sugar, turmeric, crushed cumin and salt into the bowl of the stand mixer. Turn on the mixer (fitted with the dough hook), add in the bloomed yeast and the EVOO, and let the liquid ingredients integrate with the dry ones.

Gradually add the milk and olive oil, and knead until you have a smooth and pliable dough that’s not sticky. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a well-oiled bowl, turn to coat the dough and then cover loosely and let it rise till it has doubled (about an hour or so). Once its risen, punch it down and allow the dough to rise again (another hour).

Prepare the filling by mixing together the chopped dates, soft butter and cardamom together in a bowl.

Divide the dough into 8 equal portions . Working with one portion at a time, roll each one out into a rectangle that is about between 1/4" and 1/8” thick. Place a teaspoon of the filling on the sheet of rolled dough (about a quarter of the way along the length).

 Fold the dough over the filling and gently press down to expel any trapped air. At this point, my 8 year old suggested using a Ravioli press when he saw me struggling with a cookie cutter to shape the individual pieces. His Idea was perfect, not only did the dough get sealed it also got shaped perfectly in one shot!

Press down and seal the dough around the filling. With your palm firmly on the ravioli  press, jiggle it a bit to dislodge the extra strip of dough (which can be used to make more of the buns).

Repeat with the remaining portions of dough and the scraps. The date filling was enough for 12 buns.
Place on  a baking tray lined with parchment,  leaving space between them because they will puff up on baking. Let them rest for about 15 minutes.

Then brush them with a little milk and sprinkle the remaining ½ teaspoon of crushed cumin on top, pressing it down a little with your fingers. Bake the Komaj at 200C (400F) for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Cool  on a rack a little and dust with icing sugar if you like (I had none on hand so did not dust the bread). Serve them warm with tea or coffee. These are best eaten the day they’re made. Leftovers can be reheated and eaten the next day.

This recipe makes 12 Komaj.

 This post is being Yeastspotted.


  1. Oh you used this ravioli presser i thought you were talking about the tray one . They look so good, i still have to make them.

    1. The tray ravioli press is really tiny, this was about 2 1/2 inches diagonally, so it worked. I wish I had a round one...

  2. Hello, just found your post at Yeastspotting, what a fantastic bread, I am in awe!

    I am wondering if a similar dough could be used to roll the filling as in a big stromboli, baked as a singe loaf... although of course the presentation of these small rolls is superb!

    great post!


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