December 18, 2014

Embossed Spiced Brown Sugar Cookies

was not a very “girly girl” as a child and loved climbing trees and was generally happier playing games that didn’t involve dolls and the like. I did however thoroughly enjoy dressing up and trying on all the high heeled shoes our next door neighbour owned (my mother never wore heels). I still love heels though I don’t wear them much but I will still avoid pink, especially candy pink, like the plague.
This morning, I was tempted to take one of those “tests” on Facebook (couldn’t resist it especially as it was posted by and commented on by some very good friends) that asked “Do you think like a man or a woman?” Apparently I think 100% like a man! It was a fun thing to do but I know I do think like a woman a lot of the time.

Like a lot of women, one thing that is I love is hand-made lace. Unfortunately, I don’t own any but I love the intricacy, the detail and the thought of it being handed down in families through generations. One memory that I still have from over 10 years ago during a short stay in Portugal, (as does my daughter, even though she was only 5 then) was of an elderly woman sitting at the one of the entrances to the fort in Obidos and patiently working on a beautiful piece of lace.

Sometime back, I came across a post on the internet where lace-like patterns were created on cookies using knitted or crocheted doilies. I had planned to try my hand at that because one thing I do have at home are crocheted doilies. Unfortunately for me, the doilies look good as they are, but didn’t produce particularly interesting patterns when pressed into dough.

Since the dough for the cookies was already resting in the refrigerator, I was determined to make decent looking embossed cookies but was now without anything to emboss them with! I kept hoping to be struck by inspiration, and then my daughter came up with the idea of using her paper embossing blocks. I looked at them, but they wouldn’t leave deep enough grooves on the dough. That’s when inspiration finally struck, and I went looking for my wooden printing blocks.

In India, one traditional method of printing on cloth is by stamping out patterns with carved wooden blocks dipped in vegetable dye. It is known as block printing and is a method that is still very much in vogue. I have over the years, collected a few of the wooden blocks, and it struck me that I could use them to emboss the dough. If you decide to do this, make sure you use new blocks or else have scrubbed out and cleaned the ones you have thoroughly.
You can use anything that creates a pattern in dough to make embossed cookies. The patterned underside of water glasses, embossing stamps or patterned rolling pins if you have them, even cookie cutters can be used to make patterns on dough. Just make sure that the patterns are pressed well into the dough so they keep even after baking.

One other important thing while making these cookies is to keep the dough refrigerated so that it becomes manageable to work with. This dough is easier to emboss when it is cold.
You can use any other sugar cookie dough of your choice. I liked the idea of using brown sugar (any variety of brown sugar works here, even Demerara sugar) so I made some changes to this sugar cookie recipe to make a Brown Sugar Cookie dough.
Christmas is the season for warm and fragrant spices and one spice mix I like in particular is Speculoos/ Spekulaas spice so that’s what I used in this recipe but feel free to use whatever appeals to you. 
Embossed Spiced Brown Sugar Cookies


 150 gm unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
 1 tsp finely grated nutmeg
 1/2 tsp ground cloves
 3/4 tsp powdered dried ginger
1/2 tsp powdered anise seeds
1/2 tsp finely crushed black pepper 

Not quite an ingredient, but you also need something to emboss these cookies like lace doilies, moulds, water glasses with patterned undersides, etc.


With a hand held electric mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until pale in colour and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix well. Sieve together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add this to the creamed mixture and beat till just combined. Do not overwork the dough. If the dough feels sticky, add a little more flour. If the dough seems dry, add a tsp or so of milk to get the right consistency.
Shape the dough into a disc, cover it with clingwrap and refrigerate the dough for about a couple of hours (or overnight), to make it easier to handle. Divide the dough into two and work with one portion at a time. Lightly dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough evenly to 1/4" thickness.
An easier way is to roll the dough out on baking parchment that is cut to the size of your baking sheet. Then press your embossing tool (doilies, mould, rolling pin, etc) evenly into the dough pressing down with enough pressure to leave a somewhat deep imprint on the dough. If the pattern is not deep enough, it will disappear when the cookies puff up while baking. Make sure the pattern completely covers the surface of the rolled out dough.
Now use cookie cutters and cut out shapes leaving about an inch between them. Remove the excess dough and your cookies are already on the baking sheet, so you have no hassles with trying to transfer them! Place the cut out cookie dough in the fridge for about half an hour.
Then bake them at 180C (350F) for 10 to 15 minutes till the edges of the cookies look like they’re browning. You need to watch for this really carefully, as the cookie dough is brown.

Let the cookies cool completely. They will be a bit soft when warm but will crisp up once they cool. Store them in airtight containers.
This recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies (2 1/2" diameter).
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December 11, 2014

Make It At Home : Vanilla Extract

anilla must the most often used flavouring around the world when it comes to baking. Did you know that the vanilla pod is the fruit of an orchid? And that the pods are picked green and the processing of it into the dark brown vanilla bean is time consuming and labour intensive? This is what makes vanilla the second most expensive spice after saffron.
It’s probably bad form for someone who tries to avoid processed foodstuff, and someone who usually cooks from scratch (as much as one can in today’s world), and sis committed to blogging about it to make this admission. I will however, admit to using “fake” vanilla extract/ essence for the longest time, because I just didn’t know any different. I used to buy it off the supermarket shelf because that was all I could find; though I would stick to a particular brand I felt was the best.

I knew that this was not the real thing as it was labelled “Artificial Vanilla Flavouring Agent” and the label further informed me that it contained water, propylene glycol, nature identical flavouring substances, artificial flavouring substances, and caramel colour!! Still, it was all I had and I made do with it.  

I never knew one could easily make this at home and it never occurred to me to search out if I could make it myself. Then a good friend and fellow blogger, Nivedita came visiting from the US and one of the gifts she brought me was a small jar of Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean paste. A whiff of that stuff, and I was converted. I stretched the contents of that jar as far as I could, but it did get over one day.
That’s when I went searching the internet and discovered that I could make my Vanilla extract at home and all I needed were a few Vanilla beans, some alcohol to extract the vanilla, and a knife! Vanilla beans are grown in India, and are easy enough to source as was the alcohol, vodka in my case. The quality of Vanilla extract depends on the quality of the beans, so even if you don’t want to spend a lot on the best beans out there, that’s fine as long as you don’t buy the cheapest of the lot.

There are however many different kinds of vanilla beans available , so which ones are the best to use? I guess, for the home bakers, it would come down to affordability. As I understand it, various varieties of Vanilla beans just give different flavour to the extract and it is apparently best to use “extract grade” beans which have a lower moisture content. Me, I just use what I can get!

When it comes to the alcohol, it apparently doesn’t really matter so you can save some money here and buy the cheaper brands. I bought the cheapest I could find, which was 180ml bottles of 75 proof Romanov Vodka. Now, here is the caveat… we don't drink so I don't really know the quality of the vodka I bought vs. the  other kinds, so if you know vodka better you may have more of a preference. Some people use bourbon, brandy or rum as the alcohol base but it really doesn’t matter much, unless you have a preference for one over the other.
If you want to do the math, here’s how it worked for me. The last time I bought the fake Vanilla extract, it cost under Rs.300 for a 500ml bottle (under $5). The vodka cost me about Rs.50 for 180ml (less than $1) and about Rs.100 for a pack of 3 Vanilla beans ($1.50). About 3 to 4 beans should be good for a 180ml bottle of vodka.

That works out to about Rs.450 for 540ml of the real Vanilla extract (about $8) against about Rs.300 (under $5) for the fake stuff! All it takes to make your own Vanilla extract is slitting the vanilla pods, putting them into the bottles of vodka, closing the lids to make it all airtight and then leaving it to sit in a cool dark corner for about a month at least, while the alcohol and the Vanilla beans do their stuff. That’s it! Do you need any more convincing to make your own extract?

Home-made Vanilla extract also makes wonderful gifts to give friends, and not only at Christmas. All you need to do is source some pretty looking brown/ amber bottles and fill them up with extract, and then add pretty labels and bows and you have a gift any of your friends would kill to receive!
If making your own labels is too much of an effort there are any number of nice people who offer the option of printing lovely labels that they have created, for free. Just search the internet and you're sure to find one you like, just like I did.
The recipe below makes one 180ml bottle of vanilla extract.
Home-Made Vanilla Extract

3 to 4 vanilla beans
180ml bottle of plain vodka (cheap is fine)


Using the tip of a sharp knife, slit each vanilla bean lengthwise. Put them into the vodka bottle, such that the beans are completely submerged. If they don’t fit, cut the beans in half and then put them in.
Tighten the lid of the bottle and keep them in a cool and dark place (room temperature) for at least a month. I prefer to let them sit for 2 months. Shake the bottle a couple of times in between.
If you want, you can then strain the extract into another bottle for use. Otherwise use it as it is. Once you have used about 1/3 of the extract in a bottle, you can extend it by topping it up with more plain vodka, so the beans are submerged. Let it sit for another month or so. This will extract the Vanilla further.
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December 6, 2014

Plum, Pear & Cucumber Salad With Lime-Honey Dressing and Pistachios

ou’re probably wondering why there’s a sudden increase in the number of salads being posted on this blog, and that too, from someone who professes to dislike them. The fact of the matter is that I am slowly developing a taste for them, and the doctor seems to think they’re good for us. It’s also a good way to incorporate more fruit into our diet that the said doctor feels we need.
I still don’t like predominantly leafy salads so you won’t find my salads having too much of leaves. Give me the kind that are a nice mix of vegetable and fruit that are light, sweet, salty and tangy and I’ll give the salad a try.

A good thing about living where I do, is that we can eat salad pretty much at any part of the year if we choose to, and not just during summer. We don’t have winters here though there’s a chill in the air late at night and early in the mornings. Our days are comfortable to eat salads, which is a good thing really, because this is the season when we get a whole variety of vegetable and fruit not found during any other part of the year.
This is not really a seasonal salad as this isn’t the time of the year for Indian plums, though one can still find Indian pears. However, thanks to globalization and imports we now have pears and plums throughout the year, though a whole deal more expensive.
I don’t really advocate the use of imported fruit for 2 reasons – one because I believe in using locally grown produce as much as possible, and the other (perhaps the most important reason) because imported fruit has usually been “meddled” with. I don’t hold with the “unnatural” behaviour of ripe fruit that can sit on the kitchen counter in tropical climates for 2 weeks and not spoil!


That’s not to say I don’t buy imported fruit at all, but I mostly avoid doing so. I did however give into an urge to buy some plums, and this was largely because the variety of Indian plums that do find their way to our southern Indian markets from the North, are usually more sour than sweet. The imported varieties are invariably sweeter.
Use a slightly firm and crunchier variety of pear for this salad, if you can find it. The crunch is a nice contrast to the soft, fleshy plums and the cucumbers. A good friend and fellow blogger Madhuli, who lives in Indian grape country, had gifted me a bottle of grape seed oil the last we met so I put that to good use here. Feel free to use whatever oil you like here – extra virgin olive oil or any other will do fine.

As I have mentioned below, you can peel your cucumbers (or de-seed them) or not, depending on the variety you’re using or how you like them. Replace the red chilli flakes with crushed pepper, and use almonds or walnuts instead of pistachios if you prefer. Make this your salad any which way, and enjoy it! 
Plum, Pear & Cucumber Salad With Lime-Honey Dressing and Pistachios


2 pears, cored and thinly sliced (preferably the crunchy kind)
1 medium sized cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced*
5 to 6 plums, stoned and sliced
2 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp grape seed oil
1/4 tsp red chilli flakes
Salt to taste
A few leaves fresh basil
 2 tbsp chopped toasted pistachios


*You can peel the cucumbers if you wish or leave the skin on, depending on the variety. Some cucumbers have very fine seeds which you can leave. Otherwise, just use a teaspoon and scrape the seeds out.
Mix together the pear, plum and the cucumber in a bowl.
Make the lime-honey dressing  by whisking together the lime juice, honey, grape seed oil, the chilli flakes and the salt. Drizzle over the salad and toss lightly so the salad is well mixed with it.
Garnish with basil leaves and chopped toasted pistachios. Serve immediately.
This recipe should serve 4 people.
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November 29, 2014

At The Baker’s Studio (Baga, Goa)

re you one of those people who think breakfast dishes should be eaten only for breakfast, or are you like me and can happily eat breakfast stuff for lunch and dinner? Before I go further I must clarify that, when I say breakfast, I’m not talking about things like cereal, toast and the like. While I might make do with that stuff on the odd day when I’m pressed for time, I’m otherwise a person who likes to have a hearty breakfast and preferably one that is mostly savoury.
If there’s bread involved anywhere in the breakfast, then I’m a very happy person. In fact, a good friend who’s also a food blogger and I were recently discussing how we just love our carbs and where bread was concerned the whiter and unhealthier it got; the better we seemed to like it!

My Panini Caprese

A while ago, I got a call asking if I would like to try out the breakfast/ brunch menu at the Baker’s Studio, a French bakery and café. As always, I mentioned I was a vegetarian and I was assured that there were a good number of vegetarian options on offer. I agreed mostly because I had already tried out some of their sweet and savoury pastries that they used to sell at their Panaji/ Panjim patisserie Delicieux. Unfortunately for us, that outlet has now moved to Ashvem.

The Baker’s Studio in Baga and their patisserie Delicieux at Ashwem, are both owned and run by Lucie Masson and Varun Sood. Lucie is French and their bakery and café is all about fresh baked artisan and pastry products. They’re also the people behind the restored heritage boutique hotel, Siolim House.  
The Baker’s Studio,  a breakfast café with a coffee bar, is located on the lane that leads to Tito’s in Baga, is a European style café that serves breakfast throughout the day. Their reasoning is that breakfast can be delicious, wholesome and fun; good coffee gets you through the day; freshly baked bread is comfort. So you can eat breakfast throughout the day, and make it a relaxed affair, taking your time over it.

Whether it’s something simple like rolls, a croissant or a piece of cake or some pastry with coffee, or a more substantial breakfast that you have in mind, they serve it all. You can also choose from a wide variety of sweet treats if you have a particularly sweet tooth. The café also serves a detailed brunch on weekends, and wines in the evenings. They source as much of their ingredients as they can locally and organically, and their breads are all made fresh every day in their own bakery. They also make a lot of the cheese they use, as well as their own vinaigrettes, mayonnaise, dressings and sauces.

Since I couldn’t take them up on the invite to their weekend brunch, Revati (the above mentioned friend and food blogger) and I decided to drop by on a weekday in the following week. Lucie met us there and told us a little about the idea behind setting up the place, the kind of dishes they served and we spent some time talking about food in general.

The Baker’s Studio has quite a few options for vegetarians,  and I thought it would be a good idea to have Lucy suggest what I could order for a light brunch. I chose the Panini Caprese sandwich which is a grilled tomato, Mozzarella and pesto sandwich with hummus and a green salad with dressing on the side and of course, a hot cup of coffee. It proved quite filling, and I decided against dessert since I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth. I did buy a couple of pain du chocolate and Danish to take home though.

The food on the menu is priced quite affordably so if you’re hungry, and are looking for a casual breakfast or all day snacks in or around Baga, then the Baker’s Studio  is worth a visit. They also make eggless desserts and cakes, and gluten-free breads on order.

Address: Tito's lane, Saunta Vaddo, Next to Star Magic Gift Shop, Baga, Goa (Open from 8am to 4am)

Please note: The information in this post was current at the time of writing it, and may have changed since.
Disclaimer: This review was done on an invitation from The Baker’s Studio. I have applied due judgment and done my best to remain objective and unbiased while writing this review. Please exercise your own discretion, with the understanding that this is my personal opinion.
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November 26, 2014

Egg-free No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Pudding With Candied Nuts/ Praline

ou’ve probably heard the saying, “As American as Apple Pie”. While Apple Pie has become a quintessentially American food, Pumpkin Pie is is another pie that can be probably be classified the same way. Pumpkin Pie is a classic American Thanksgiving tradition, probably for two reasons. For one, Thanks giving (and Halloween) are both celebrated at time of the year which coincides with pumpkin harvest season. The other probably has to do with the fact that when the first Pilgrims landed they realised they had to eat the pumpkins grown by the Native Americans to survive.

However, one of the earliest recipes for Pumpkin Pie came from “Le Vrai Cuisinier François” or The True French Cook written in 1651 (English ed. 1653) by a French chef called François Pierre de la Varenne.
The English, in those days, called the pumpkin a “Pumpion” and a 1670 cookbook by Hannah Wooley has a recipe for Pumpion Pie which goes, “Take a Pumpion, pare it, and cut it in thin slices, dip it in beaten Eggs and Herbs shred small, and fry it till it be enough, then lay it into a Pie with Butter, Raisins, Currans, Sugar and Sack, and in the bottom some sharp Apples, when it is baked, butter it and serve it in.”

Sack? In pie? I think sherry was referred to as "Sack" in the old days in England. Apparently, the first recipe for Pumpkin Pie in the US appeared only in 1796 and it was called a “Pomkin Pudding” but baked in a crust.
I’ve baked quite a few pies but I still haven’t ventured in the direction of Pumpkin Pie. Don’t ask me why, because I’m not sure I have answer. We use a lot of pumpkin in our cooking, and I buy it about once in 10 days. However, in my traditional style of cooking, pumpkin is always cooked as a savoury dish. So maybe that’s where my hesitation to turn pumpkin into something sweet starts.
Out here, I’ve seen three kinds of pumpkins. One is what we call “patcha matthan”which translates to “green (or raw)pumpkin” in English and it has a mottled green and yellowish skin and is light yellow-orange with a touch of pale green on the inside. The other kind is the pumpkin which is orange on the outside, and deep orange on the inside. Both these varieties are large though, the first kind tastes much better when cooked into savoury dishes, in my opinion. The third kind is also orange but much smaller and can comfortably be held in one’s hands. I found this variety referred to as “Disco” pumpkin in Kerala for some reason.

It’s Thanksgiving season in the US, and I’ve been seeing a lot of blogs and food sites showcasing all things pumpkin. I was looking for a dessert to make for the weekend, one that was easy enough, reasonably light on calories and didn’t require baking because my oven wasn’t working. Pumpkin seemed the way to go since I had a quarter of a pumpkin sitting in the refrigerator. A quarter of that was reserved for our Cocker spaniel Fudge (he loves pumpkin) and I decided to start my pumpkin dessert journey with a Pumpkin Pie style pudding instead.

I understand that the preferred way to make Pumpkin Pie or generally anything that involves the use of pumpkin purée is to use canned pumpkin version. In India, we get pumpkin the year round and there is a general preference in Indian kitchens to use fresh produce rather than preserved/ canned stuff, if you can even find it.
I also see references on blogs and in articles written by some Americans about  pumpkins smelling funny and how they’re all stringy and watery and why it’s so much better to use the canned variety. I don’t know if the variety of pumpkin that we get here is different, but I’ve never seen stringy, watery or funny smelling pumpkin (unless it’s spoilt). So I made my own pumpkin purée, which isn’t all that difficult to do. We like just a hint of the spices, but if like them pronounced please adjust the amounts to suit your taste. If you don’t like walnuts, you can use almonds instead for the praline.

Pumpkin Pie Pudding is nothing but the pumpkin custard that goes into the pie crust to make Pumpkin Pie. So you could use this pudding as the filling in a pre-baked pie crust, and you would have a Pumpkin Pie which just needs refrigeration to set. This is a fuss-free pudding that can be ahead of time, so it’s a good dessert idea for when you have guests over.
Egg-free No-Bake Pumpkin Pie Pudding With Candied Nuts/ Praline
(Adapted from My Recipes)


For the pudding:
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp vanilla flavoured custard powder
1 3/4 cups milk (I used 2% milk)
1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin purée*
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp finely grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp finely grated dried ginger
1/4 tsp allspice 

For the candied walnuts/ praline:
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts  

To serve:
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp icing sugar
Ginger cookies (optional)


*You can use canned pumpkin purée or make your own. This is how I made mine. Chop up the pumpkin into pieces and pan roast them with about a tablespoon of butter for about 5 minutes, over medium heat until they’re golden brown. Then steam-cook the pumpkin till it’s done and very soft. Let this cool and then blend into purée. You can also roast them in the oven. If you find that your pumpkin is a little on the wetter side, then mash it slightly after it has cooked and let is drain for about an hour before you purée it. 

Make the pumpkin custard first. Whisk together the sugar, vanilla flavoured custard powder and the milk in a pot or pan till well mixed. Place on medium heat and keep stirring frequently until the mixture has thickened and coats the spoon or whisk well. Don’t let it come to a boil. Make sure no lumps form.
Add the puréed pumpkin, the vanilla and the spices and whisk well by hand till incorporated. Take the custard off the heat and keep stirring as it cools and thickens making sure a “skin” does not form. Once it is barely warm, divide the custard equally between 4 serving glasses/ cups. Let it cool completely, then cover with clingfilm and refrigerate till ready to serve.
To make the candied walnuts or praline, place the sugar and the pinch of salt in a small skillet (preferably non-stick). Add a teaspoon of water and place it on medium heat and stir a couple of times so that the sugar melts/ dissolves. Let it bubble until it turns golden brown. Add the chopped nuts and stir until all the nuts are well coated. Spread this on a lightly oiled foil lined tray. Let it cool completely. Chop up coarsely. Store in an airtight container if not using immediately.
To serve, whip the cream and the sugar till it forms soft peaks that hold. Spoon or pipe a little cream on to each serving of pumpkin pudding and sprinkle the candied walnuts/ praline over this. Serve with or without the ginger cookie on the side. This recipe serves 4.
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November 24, 2014

We Knead To Bake #22 : Sheermal/ Shirmal (Saffron Flavoured Flatbread)

his month's choice for the "We Knead To Bake" group was Sheermal. Sheermal or Shirmal is a saffron-flavored slightly sweet traditional leavened flatbread that is found in various countries on the Asian sub-continent including Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India.
Sheermal is a Naan-like milk bread, apparently of Persian origins, and it is suggested that the name comes from the Persian word for milk which is “sheer”. In India, this “milk” bread is predominantly found in Muslim neighbourhoods (another reason to suppose it came to India with the Mughals) of Kashmir, Lucknow and Hyderabad. 

While I haven’t been able to find any decisive or detailed information on the Sheermal, I have discovered that the finished flatbread and when it is served/ how it is eaten, seems to differ slightly depending on where it is made. So you will find that some Sheermal decorated with a lovely pricked rustic pattern on its surface, Lucknowi Sheermal garnished with raisins, others like to use slivered almonds, poppy seeds or sesame seeds to top their Sheermal.
I understand that Sheermal is usually eaten as it is with tea for breakfast, or served slightly warm as part of a meal with a mutton curry called Nihari/ Nehari or spicy kebabs. It can also be served with Khurma/ Korma/ Qorma, vegetable curries, etc.

You will find Sheermal being made with either baking powder or yeast as the leavening agent, and this version uses yeast. The kewra (screw pine extract) gives this bread a unique flavour which can a bit of an acquired taste. Rose water/ essence is also used, and is also somewhat of an acquired flavour. If you can neither (or don’t want ot use either), you can use crushed cardamom instead.
Incorporating the ghee into the dough slowly by adding a little at a time ensures that the fat is dispersed evenly through the dough, and gives a better texture to the Sheermal. Make sure your dough is soft, elastic and well kneaded as this will produce a superior Sheermal. The hallmark of good Sheermal is the glistening finish on the flatbread from brushing it with melted ghee or butter, so do not skimp on that, even though this flatbread is already rich as it is.
The egg gives the dough a little extra richness, texture and flavour, but you can leave it out if you don’t use eggs.

Traditionally, this is a bread that is cooked in a tandoor, but the oven also produces quite good Sheermal. Here are two good videos worth watching before making the Sheermal. One is a video is a film showing how Sheermal is made in smaller commercial bakeries, and the other one gives a good demonstration on how to make/ shape Sheermal. 
Sheermal/ Shirmal (Saffron Flavoured Flatbread)


1 tsp active dried yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup ghee
1/2 cup milk (or more, as required for kneading)
 1 tsp kewra water (screw pine essence) or rose water
A few strands saffron soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk
Melted butter, for brushing


Mix the yeast into the warm water with sugar and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes till it is frothy.
You may knead by hand or with a machine. Put the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the yeast mixture and the beaten egg and run the processor a couple of times to mix well. Then add the ghee in two lots to this and again pulse a couple of times till it looks like fine crumbs.
Now add as much milk, and finally the kewra (or rose water) and knead until you have a very soft and slightly sticky dough. Transfer this to an oiled bowl, cover with a moist cloth and let the dough rise till doubled in volume (about 1 to 2 hours).

Remove the cloth and knead the dough again. Shape into a ball, lightly coat all over with a little ghee, cover with a damp kitchen towel and let it rest for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Now divide the dough into 4 equal portions and using your fingers, press out each portion into a round of approximately 4” diameter (about 1/8” thick). You can also use your rolling pin, but I found it quite easy to do with my fingers. Place the rounds on a parchment lined or lightly greased baking tray and using a fork, dock (prick holes) the whole surface of the dough rounds.

Brush them all over, generously, with the saffron-milk solution. Bake at 180C (350F) for about 10 to 15 minutes till they turn a lovely golden brown. Do not over-bake them.
Take them out of the oven, and immediately brush them lightly with melted butter or more ghee. Serve warm. This recipe makes 4 Sheermals of approximately 4” diameter.

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