March 24, 2015

We Knead To Bake #26 : Kummelweck (Kimmelweck) Rolls & A Vegetarian Weck Sandwich

his month we’re baking something savoury and simple. What makes these simple rolls rather special and different is the sprinkling of sea salt and caraway seeds on the top. These rolls are great for sandwiches and even burgers.

So what exactly is a Kimmelweck Roll? I didn’t know either but I discovered that it's a hard roll, much like a crusty Kaiser roll, but sprinkled with caraway and coarse salt instead of poppy seeds. 
They are German in origin and I understand that “Kummel” means caraway seeds while “Weck” from “wecken” which means roll (in southern Germany, “brötchen” in the north). It seems that in Buffalo (New York), these rolls are used to make a speciality sandwich called the "Beef on Weck", with thinly sliced rare roast beef and horseradish which is typically served with fries and a dill pickle.

According to a story, the origin of the Beef on Weck sandwich goes back to the 1800s. It seems a German immigrant ran a bar on the Buffalo waterfront and he was looking a way to increase his sales. He hit upon the idea of selling his hungry customers roast beef in the Kummelweck roll. The salt would make them thirstier and buy more beer in the bargain.  I have no idea if he sold more beer than before, but his sandwich become so popular that it became a food icon in Buffalo!

A Kummelweck roll is best eaten fresh when it is chewy and crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. The salt on top of it must be just so, as too much would make it unpleasantly salty and too little would mean it wasn’t enough.

If you can’t find caraway seeds, you can use “shahjeera/ black cumin” like I did. It’s not authentic but when one can’t find an ingredient then one makes the best of what is on hand. I personally found the taste of Shahjeera on the bread and the sandwich pretty much to my liking.  This recipe makes 8 burger bun sized large rolls, but half the recipe also works well if you would prefer to bake a smaller batch of rolls.

If you scroll down beyond the recipe for these rolls, there are instructions for a vegetarian “Weck” sandwich.
Here's a video demonstration of how to make these rolls.
Kummelweck (Kimmelweck)  Rolls

(Adapted from Jewish Food)


2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1/2 cup warm water

1/2 cup warm milk

2 bsp oil

1 tbsp honey

1 egg white (optional)

1 1/2 tsp salt

3 to 3 1/4 cups bread flour*

Egg wash (optional)

Coarse sea salt and caraway seeds


*To substitute for bread flour add 1 tbsp of vital wheat gluten to 2 to 3 cups of all-purpose flour.

Mix together the warm water and the warm milk and stir in the yeast. Let it sit aside for about 5 minutes. Knead by hand or with the machine.

In the bowl of your machine, combine the yeast mixture, oil, honey, the egg white and stir.
Now add the salt and about 2 1/2 cups of flour and knead, adding as much more flour as required till you have a smooth and elastic  dough that is tacky but not sticky. Shape the dough into a ball, and place it in an oiled bowl. Cover loosely with cling film and let rise for about an hour, until it is almost double in volume.
Deflate the dough well (not kneading), shape into a round and and allow it to rise, covered, for 30 minutes more.

Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and shape each into a smooth ball, then slightly flatten it. Place them on lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheets. Spray or lightly brush with oil, loosely cover and let the dough rise for 30 more minutes. Brush with eggwash (or something else that will make sure the topping sticks when baking), then cut slits ( like an +) on the top using a sharp blade or scissors.

Sprinkle the top of the rolls with sea salt and caraway seeds, and then mist with water. Bake the rolls at 220C (425F) for 5 minutes and then quickly mist with water again making sure you don’t keep the oven door open for too long.
Bake for another 20 minutes or so until they’re brown and done. Cool on a wire rack. This recipe makes 8 large burger bun sized rolls.

For the Vegetarian Weck Sandwich

As mentioned earlier, a typical Weck sandwich is made with thinly sliced rare roast beef and horseradish. Then top half of the bun is dipped in a bit of beef au jus before you placing it on the beef. Otherwise the sandwich is just roast beef and served with hot horseradish and the au jus for dipping, along with the French fries and dill pickle.

My vegetarian version is much simpler. I decided to keep my “Weck” sandwich as healthy as I could so I used this delightful Roasted Red Pepper Hummus as a spread and then added some crunchy lettuce, thinly sliced cucumber, tomatoes and carrots. 
I topped it with a little more Hummus and some freshly crushed pepper and my sandwich was done. The salt and caraway (shahjeera in my case) was more than enough seasoning so I didn't add anything more.
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March 20, 2015

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

ome of you must be wondering whether there’s a need for one more Hummus recipe to add to the thousands out there, and I guess probably not. That’s not going to stop me from posting this because I love chickpeas and so I really like hummus. As we all know, it’s also a really good guilt-free dish to eat when the craving for something crunchy and savoury hits you.
And just in case you need convincing about how good Hummus can be for you, here's a list.

Hummus or houmous is a dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. Today, it is popular throughout the world where Middle Eastern cuisine is well known. Incidentally, Hummus in Arabic means chickpeas.
No one where Hummus originated but the earliest known mention of it is in 13th century Egypt. However, people across Israel, Palestine, Egypt, the Arab world, Greece, other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries also claim hummus as their dish.

Apparently, in Israel, people are so emotional about Hummus that there have been huge arguments over where one could find the best Hummus. 
Yotam Ottolenghi writes in his Jerusalem : A Cookbook that “Jews in particular, and even more specifically Jewish men, never tire of arguments about the absolute, the one and only, the most fantastic hummusia…it is, like the English fish-and-chips shop, a savored local treasure”.

One of the nicest things about Hummus is how you can ‘customize’ it to suit your requirement or taste. Once you have the basic ingredients of chickpeas, tahini (this can be left out), salt, lime juice, a little olive oil and garlic you can add anything else you like to it. Typical additions include red chilli flakes (or even chillies – green or red) or paprika to spice it up, roasted and mashed eggplant or roasted red peppers for a smoky flavour and even grated carrots or mashed beets. It may not be authentic or traditional but the sky’s the limit when it comes to experimenting with flavours.

This version of mine does not use tahini so it’s great if you’re allergic to nuts and seeds, but you can always add some if you really want it in your Hummus. Hummus isn't quite Hummus without a good dose of olive oil, but if you’re watching your calories or need to cut down on fat (olive oil is fat, you know….), then you can cut down the oil in this recipe and I can promise you won’t even miss it.

The not so secret ingredient that makes a difference in this Hummus is the use of Pomegranate Molasses (you can make it at home if you have pomegranates and a little sugar). Of course, you can always leave it out.

The red peppers, the Pomegranate Molasses and the caramelized onions give this Hummus a hint of sweetness, so it would be good to up the lime and the spice a bit to balance it out. Feel free to tweak the amounts of the spices and other ingredients to reach the balance you're looking for in terms of balance of taste and flavours. 
My Hummus is also a little low on garlic because that's how we like it. Feel free to increase the quantity to your taste.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus


2 large red peppers, seeds removed and halved

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 tsp coarsely ground cumin

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas

1/4 to 1/2 tsp garlic paste

2 tsp lime/ lemon juice

1 tbsp pomegranate molasses (optional)

1/2 tsp red chilli flakes

Salt to taste


I prefer to roast the red pepper over the open flame. Remove the stem and seeds of the peppers and then lightly brush them all over with oil. Place them, one at a time, on the flame (medium) of your gas stove. Keep turning them so that they’re uniformly charred all over. Let them cool, then using your fingers, peel the charred skin off.
You can also roast them in the oven or under the grill, if you prefer.

Heat the olive oil in a small pan and sauté chopped onion over medium heat until it is soft and golden brown. Let it cool.  

Put the roasted red pepper, the sautéed onion and any oil that’s in the pan, the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, crushed cumin, chilli flakes and salt in the jar of your blender and run till smooth. Add a couple of teaspoons of water, if necessary, while blending.

Transfer to a serving dish and add a tablespoon of olive oil to garnish. Further garnish with finely chopped parsley, some chilli flakes and crushed cumin. Serve as a dip with vegetable crudités, thin toast, crackers or flatbreads, and as a spread in sandwiches.

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March 16, 2015

My Version of the Granary-Style Bread Loaf

here’s nothing quite like good old fashioned bread if you ask me - the kind that is hearty, full of flavour and cuts into nice and thick slices. I do like white bread just like most other people but I’m also partial to whole wheat bread and multi-grain bread so I’m always game to bake them when I can (which is not too often, I must confess).

The Bread Baking Babes are baking Granary Bread this month, from a recipe chosen for us by Tanna. She was visiting her son and his family and their children’s’ nanny had a bread book with a recipe for Granary bread. Now Granary bread is an English bread made using Granary flour which is a UK brand of brown flour with malted wheat flakes that is milled by Rank Hovis Limited.

Apparently, how Granary flour is made and its composition is a closely guarded secret but this flour that has been in use for years now. The origin of Granary flour is attributed by some to the Benedictine Monks of Burton Abbey. They were supposed to have accidentally discovered, while experimenting with a method for brewing ale, that malted wheat flakes improved the flavour of their bread tremendously.

So Granary Bread is bread made from mainly white flour mixed with a proportion of wholemeal flour, malt powder and malted grains. I understand from the various sources on the net that bread made from Granary flour has a distinctive "malty" and nutty taste, and is slightly lighter than bread made with whole-meal flour. Never having heard of Granary flour or the bread until I saw this month’s recipe, I also discovered that Granary flour is not easy to come by if you live outside the UK.  

Tanna who gave us the recipe did warn us that those of us who didn't have access to Granary flour would have to get quite creative with substitution. Her exact words were “Use your imagination.  Remember when you were little and made mud pies?  We're playing around here.” I joked about it with the others in the group that I would perhaps have to the most creative as I would need to look for substitutions for everything except water, yeast, salt and butter!

I live in India, and though we have a history of British colonialism and they did leave some delightful food traditions behind, they never brought Granary flour with them (not that I’m aware of anyways). Taking courage and inspiration from some of Tanna’s suggestions about getting creative with this bread, I decided to use Quaker’s Oats Plus which is a mixture of oats and other grain flakes (toasted for more flavour) instead of wheat flakes, sprouted ragi flour/ teezan (fox millet flour) to replace the ‘malted’ effect, some whole wheat flour and threw in some broken/ cracked wheat for fun.

I stuck with using bread flour (again a substitute with all-purpose flour and wheat gluten) as I was baking this for the first time and didn’t want an all wheat loaf that was heavy/ dense and no one wanted to eat!

Having made the bread, I can say it’s a bread we liked. Hearty, a bit dense yet full of flavour, this is bread that’s now on “regular bread” list. It makes really good sandwiches, and stays moist for a couple of days after baking. 
My Version of a Granary-Style Bread Loaf

(Adapted from King Arthur Flour)


1 cup lukewarm water

1/4 cup rolled oats, toasted (I used Quaker Oats Plus-Multigrain)

1/4 cup cracked/ broken wheat

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup sprouted finger millet flour (ragi malt/ teezan)

1 1/4 tsp instant yeast (1/2 tsp + 3/4 tsp)

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp honey

1 1/2 to 2 cups bread flour*


*I added 2 tsp vital wheat gluten for about 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (which is what I ended up using here) as a substitute for bread flour.

Pour the 2 cups of water into a mixing bowl. Stir in the barley malt, wheat flakes and white wheat flour. Mix in 1/2 tsp of the yeast, and cover the bowl loosely with film. The sponge will have the consistency of a very thick doughy batter which will loosen up slightly by next morning. Let this sponge sit at room temperature overnight.

You can proceed by kneading the dough by hand or machine. As usual, I turn to my faithful food processor. The next morning, put the sponge into the bowl of the processor. Add the remaining yeast and about 1 1/4 cups of the bread flour. Mix well and then add the salt, the oil and the honey. Mix and then add enough flour and knead until you have a shaggy dough that begins to hold together and pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead until it's cohesive. Give it a rest while you clean out and lightly oil your bowl. Continue kneading for several minutes, adding only enough flour so that the dough from sticking to you or the work surface.

Shape the dough into a ball, and place in a oiled bowl, turning it to coat it all over. Cover loosely and let it rise till almost double in volume. This should take about  1 1/2 hours.

Gently deflate the dough and shape it into a log. Place it in a lightly greased 8 -1/2” x 4-1/2"-loaf pan. Cover loosely and let it rise until about 3/4th in volume. Brush the top of the loaf with some milk and sprinkle oats/ wheat flakes.

Bake it at 190C (375F) for 30 to 40 minutes till the loaf is brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Turn it out onto a wire rack and let it cool completely before slicing.
This recipe makes one medium sized loaf.
 The Bread Baking Babes:

Though the Bread Baking Babes (BBB) are a closed group, you can still bake with us as a Bread Baking Buddy and here’s how it works.
The Kitchen of the Month this month is Tanna's and the recipe for this month’s bread is on her blog. Bake the Granary Bread according to that recipe and post it on your blog before the 28th of this month. Make sure you mention the Bread Baking Babes and link to her BBB post in your own post.

Then e-mail Tanna with your name and the link to the post, or leave a comment on her blog post with this information. She will then do a Buddy round-up for this month on her blog and also send you a BBB badge for this bread that you can then add to your post on your blog. 
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March 11, 2015

Indian Style Stuffed & Pan Fried Green Peppers

his is a post that has been due for a while now, but it got misplaced in another folder on my desktop when I was saving it as a draft. It’s always better late than too never post a good recipe so here it is.

It was sometime last year (yes, that’s how long this post has been due) during my weekly trip to my market that I came across these little bell pepper like chillies at one of the stalls. They’re about 1/3rd the size of a largish bell pepper and look more like them than like chilies. I was seeing them for the first time and asked the stall owner what they were called. He told me that they were called “Jowari Mirch” which translates as Jowari chillies. Apparently they’re seasonal and a summertime crop, and grown in the neighbouring state of Karnataka where they’re usually stuffed and cooked.

I searched the net a lot and the closest thing I found to these chillies I had was these Thai Pumpkin chillies. If you can’t find these, you can do this with any very mild green pepper like bell peppers and this recipe tastes just as good. 
I must mention here that I discovered these unusual chillies turned out to have a reasonable amount of hidden fire in them, so I slit them on one side and cleaned out the seeds and everything inside rendering them harmless.

These Jowari chillies were a little more expensive than the regular variety of green bell peppers, so naturally I came home with some. Then came the task of figuring out how to cook them. I asked around, at home and on the net, and almost everyone who recognized these chillies told me they were meant to be stuffed.

Many of my friends and others whom I asked suggested fillings that they said was used to stuff and cook chillies similar to these and two of the suggestions appealed to me. This one from Anushruthi uses peanuts and this one from Sravanthi uses chickpea flour. This time chickpea flour won hands down over peanuts and I chose to adapt Sravanthi’s recipe.

Like I said earlier, you don’t have to necessarily use the variety of chillies/ peppers that I did. Any largish variety of chillies/ peppers that are mild will work just as well. You might need to increase the amounts given for the filling in this recipe if your chillies/ peppers are on the larger side.
Indian Style Stuffed & Pan Fried Green Peppers


1/4 kg mini green bell peppers (about 20 or so)

2 to 3 tbsp oil

1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 1/2 tsp black gram lentils

2 sprigs curry leaves

For the filling:

1 cup chickpea flour (besan)

1/4 tsp asafoetida

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp red chilli powder (or more if you prefer)

1/2 tsp carom seeds (ajwain)

 1 tsp powdered jaggery (optional)

2 to 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander

Salt to taste

3 tbsp oil


Start off by preparing the chillies/ peppers. Wash and dry them and then, using a short bladed sharp knife, remove the stem and the seeds. It’s a good idea to keep the hole on the top of the chillies/ peppers on the smaller side and try to keep them whole otherwise. If you’re using a long variety of chilli/ pepper, then keep the stems intact but make a lengthwise slit and remove the seeds without breaking the chillies. If there’s any filling left over keep aside.

Now prepare the filling. Put all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl and mix them well together with a fork, or the tips of your fingers. Gently, put this filling into the prepared chillies/ peppers and then keep them aside.

Then heat the oil in a frying pan and turn down the heat to medium. Then add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the cumin seeds and the black gram lentils. Stir for a minute or so until the lentils start turning golden in colour (don’t let them brown) and add the curry leaves. Add any left over filling to the pan and stir a couple of times.

Gently place the filled chillies/ peppers in the frying pan with their tops facing upwards. Turn down the heat to low, cover the pan and let them cook turning them gently so that they cook evenly without the filling coming out. You can sprinkle a handful of water after about 10 minutes if you feel it is necessary.

Once they’re done, gently transfer them to a serving dish and serve as a side with rice or chapatis. This recipe serves 4.
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March 1, 2015

Grape, Strawberry & Mandarin Orange Salad With Mint

e were sitting down with mugs of steaming hot coffee in our hands the other evening, and there was a food show on television. The chef was putting together a salad which was mostly a bunch of different coloured leaves and I was wondering how it is that a lot of people can eat so much of raw leaves (even with a dressing of some sort) on a regular basis in the name of a salad.

This wasn't crticism but nothing more than an idle remark based on my personal preferences because I'm not a fan of raw vegetable salads especially those that are mostly leafy greens. That led me to remarking to my husband that it was interesting that we belong to a community that comes from a purely vegetarian food tradition and cuisine (no eggs and traditionally not even onions and garlic), yet we don’t eat any vegetable in its raw form – not even those than cane be like carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.

After some thought, I have come to the conclusion that this probably because t is known that raw vegetables are very difficult to digest, even the ones that can be eaten raw, so cooking vegetables is the way to go. Also, in a purely vegetarian diet there is little or no need for additional dietary fibre in the form of salads.

Having said that, our lifestyles have changed much since those days when people ate with discipline and led very active lives. So it is the order of the day to include a salad at least once a day, at least that is what the doctor tells us. I’m slowly getting used to salads being a part of my diet but I must say they aren't my favourite dish by far.

So I’m always looking for ways to make my salads interesting enough and tempting. I still tend to avoid green leaves but I like cooked salads or raw salads that are nice mix of a little sweet and a little sour. I invariably tend to make my salads with vegetables, fruit and nuts/ seeds, or maybe even all fruit.

Today’s salad is an all fruit salad that uses some of this season’s produce – strawberries, black grapes and Mandarin oranges. In India, the most well-known Mandarin oranges are those famous Nagpur oranges with very loose skins which I remember being referred to as “loose jackets” in my childhood. Come beginning of summer and any train journey through Nagpur was incomplete without the purchase of huge amounts of these sweet, juicy thirst quenching oranges.

You can serve this salad on the side as a main dish or even as a dessert by leaving out the dressing and serving it with vanilla ice-cream, sweetened cream or a vanilla custard sauce.
Grape, Strawberry & Mandarin Orange Salad With Mint


1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled, cleaned and sliced

1 1/2 cups seedless black grapes, whole or halved

1 cup mandarin orange sections

1/4 cup sunflower seeds/ pine nuts, toasted

A small bunch of fresh mint leaves

For the dressing:

1 tbsp tablespoons olive oil

2 tbsp orange juice

2 tsp honey

Salt and crushed black pepper to taste


Toast the sunflower seeds/ pine nuts in a skillet until light golden in colour. Set aside to cool.

Put the sliced strawberries, grapes and orange sections in a large salad bowl. Add the mint, reserving a few leaves for garnishing. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve the salad.

Make the dressing and just before serving add it to the bowl. Add the salt and pepper and toss lightly so that the salad is evenly coated in the dressing. Sprinkle the nuts on top and garnish with mint.

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