September 27, 2008

Crackers, The Vegan Way - Lavash Crackers and Toppings: Daring Bakers Challenge September 2008

By now, most food bloggers knows that it’s the end of the month and that food blogosphere is going to be deluged with thousands of Daring Baker versions of one particular recipe. I wouldn’t be surprised or blame the non-Daring Bakers if they looked at this particular phenomenon with some apprehension.

This month, our challenge has been a bit different. Our hosts this month, Natalie of Gluten A Go Go and Shel of Musings From The Fishbowl, are both alternative bakers. There is a small group of Alternative Daring Bakers within our group who modify the regular challenges, every month, to suit their diet choices and continue to bake with the rest of us. The innovations they come up with to do this is something I have marveled at month after month.

So this month, our hosts decided to have all of us Daring Bakers bake the alternative way. We had to make vegan crackers {Lavash Crackers from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice (pp 178 - 180)} with the option of gluten-free or non gluten-free, for which they provided us with the recipe. We had full freedom with a choice of one or more dips to accompany the crackers, provided they were vegan and gluten-free.

I have made crackers before so I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge. Making the crackers and the dips was a breeze.

A full and printable version of this month’s challenge is here.

My Cracker Making Experience:

I chose to make the Non Gluten-Free Crackers with whole wheat flour. We were also given the freedom to experiment with what we wanted to add to our crackers in terms of salts, spices, seasonings or seeds.

I found the dough required a bit more kneading than suggested in the recipe. So what I did was to put everything into my processor and kneaded the dough in it for a couple of minutes. I then kneaded the dough further by hand till it was smooth and elastic.

My dough didn’t get anywhere near the suggested windowpane test. I was wondering if 100% whole-wheat dough could achieve that level of elasticity?

The one thing I had problems with was baking the crackers on parchment. My dough stuck to the parchment and wouldn’t come off! I have round cookie trays, so what I did was to lightly grease them and roll the dough thin on them and then bake the crackers on the back of the cookie tray. This worked perfectly.

I also needed to bake the crackers for about 30 minutes to get them crisp.

So I made my crackers in four flavours.

1.  Using one half of the recipe, I rolled out a big round (about 9” diameter) and lightly moistened the top. I sprinkled some freshly crushed pepper, cumin seeds and black and white sesame seeds. I then lightly pressed them into the dough using my rolling pin. I then marked them with a pizza cutter into 8 pieces before baking.

2.  To the other half recipe of dough, I added thymol seeds (an Indian spice also known as Ajwain in Hindi and Omam in Tamil) which I believe these are also called Carom seeds or Bishop's weed in English. These were cut out using butterfly shaped cookie cutters and baked. I got 15 butterfly crackers.

3.  I made some pizza-ish flavoured crackers using a half of the dough. I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil, and added 2 tsp of home-made marinara sauce, 1 ½ tsp red chilli flakes and 1 tsp of dried Italian herbs to the dough. I then rolled out the dough into a circle and baked it.

4.  I also made a half recipe of the dough flavoured with freshly crushed pepper, some thymol seeds and a big pinch of asafetida powder. These were all incorporated into the dough while kneading. After rolling the dough out, I cut them out into approximately 3” rounds using a cutter. I got 14 of these which I used to make Indian style “chaat”. Traditionally these are made using crisp deep-fried dough rounds called “puris”. I substituted the puris with the crackers.

To make these, place a little bit of mashed potato (which has been seasoned with a little salt and chopped coriander leaves) on a cracker. Top this with a bit of finely chopped onion. Top this off with some Tamarind and Date Chutney. Now sprinkle some “Sev”(deep-fried savoury chickpea flour vermicelli; this can be found in Indian stores) or even potato wafers. Garnish with a little fresh coriander. Do these with the other crackers.

Serve immediately.

This “chaat” can get soggy if not eaten immediately, so the idea is to keep all the ingredients ready in different bowls and each person puts together his/ her own “chaat”.

The Dips/ Chutneys:

I made an Apple-Tomato- Raisin Chutney which was a nice combination of sweet, sour and spicy. I also made a Spicy Onion Peanut Chutney/ Dip which was spicy and nutty with a slight sweetness. These are my own concoctions and the recipes for these are below.

As mentioned above, I also used a Tamarind and Date Chutney for the “chaat” which would also make a great dip on its own.

Apple Tomato Raisin Chutney


2½ cups chopped tomato

2 big apples (peeled, cored, quartered and sliced)

¾ cup golden raisins

2 big onions, grated

2 tbsp finely chopped ginger

juice of 1 lemon

¾ cup powdered jaggery (or brown sugar)

2 tbsp red chilli flakes

1 tsp cinnamon powder

3 cloves

salt to taste

1½ tbsp oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp aniseed


Add the lemon juice to the apples and keep aside.
I ran the chopped tomatoes a couple of time in my mixer/ blender so that my tomatoes were partially liquidized partially chunky. Put the raisins in a small bowl and pour just enough water so they’re immersed. Keep aside for about 10 minutes.

Put the soaked raisins, apples, tomatoes, powdered jaggery, chilli flakes, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a microwave safe bowl.
Dry roast the cumin seeds and aniseed and pound them to a coarse powder. Add this to the bowl.

In the same pan, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and when they splutter add the ginger and grated onions. Sauté till the onions become soft and golden. Add this to the bowl.

Mix everything well and microwave the mixture at 100% for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring after every 10 minutes till the chutney is quite thick.
Cool and bottle. This quantity gave me enough to a fill a large jam jar.

I am sending this chutney across to Heart Of The Matter: Preserving The Harvest and Key Ingredient Cook's Kitchen.

Spicy Onion Peanut Chutney/ Dip:


2 big onions, sliced

½ cup shelled, unsalted and roasted peanuts

2 dry red chillies

1 ½ tsp oil

½ tsp thick tamarind extract or paste

1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves

1 tbsp fresh mint leaves

1 tsp sugar

salt to taste


Heat the oil and sauté the sliced onions till they turn soft and golden. Grind this along with all the other ingredients, adding a little water, to a fine paste. Serve.

You may adjust the ingredients, especially the red chillies, to suit your taste.


This was a challenge that I really enjoyed for many reasons. While I enjoyed all the past challenges, even the ones I had problems with, I was particularly happy with this one because it was a savoury recipe and vegetarian/ vegan.

It also satisfied my need for healthy, low fat and crunchy snacking! If you would like to feast your eyes on some more savoury and vegetarian cracker fare, please do take a look at the other Daring Baker blogs. You won’t be disappointed.


Pearlsofeast said...

Hey Aparna, what an awesome post is this.I have bookmarked it and love to make ur chutney and peanut dip.I wish we were neighbors,just enjoyed ur galore.

Curry Leaf said...

Awesome,Love the crackers,Bookmarked,True Daring Baker,first will try the apple chutney,it will go with anything.

Bharti said...'ve been busy. Lovely spread!

steph- whisk/spoon said...

beautiful array of crackers and spreads!

Cham said...

That is a crispy snack, awesome post I love the crack pict topped with sev :)

PG said...

wow! wow! wow! I am totally in awe of your cooking and baking skills! And am amazed at the pace with which you scoop out one delicious recipe after another!
Will try these yummylicious recipes. Have never thought of making crackers with whole wheat flour. Great!
And I have to mention that the cupcakes look so good! Wish I was your neighbour....ummmmm! :D

And now, there is something for you to pick up at my blog....!

sra said...

A restaurant here gives us/used to give us crackers made with soya - they weren't bad. I don't think they were gluten-free, though, probably added a bit of wheat to bind.

Marija said...

I love your butterflies! My hearts burned down :(

Isabelle said...

j'aime beaucoup ton chutney de tomate/pommes/raisins mais tout à l'air très bon :)

Argus Lou said...

Very pretty lavash! Mmm... I can almost smell and taste the lovely dips.

BC said...

Wow, you are amazing! I feel very dowdy and staid beside all the creations you made with the crackers and dips. They look fantastic!

Rachel said...

Wow...the butterflies are way too cute!!

Babeth said...

Bravo! You're very creative. I love your dips I think I will try them in my kitchen :-)

Ivy said...

Great job Aparna.

Passionate About Baking said...

Great great crackers Aparna...& lovely array of dips on the side. I only just woke up to the fact that the posting date is today...aaaaaaargh! Love the flavours! Very very nice.

Dharm said...

Love the different dips Aparna!

jo said...

congratulations on your challenge. delicious looking lavash and such flavours to your dips!

Sheltie Girl said...

You did a fabulous job on your crackers and dips. I loved all your versions. I'm delighted you liked the challenge as much as we did!

Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

Jenny said...

Yum, I love the diversity of your dips, and the last one sounds particularly intriguing. I had thought about kneading herbs and spices into the dough but didn't get a chance to try it yet. Did you like that more or less than sprinkling them on top?

Lauren said...

Wow! You really went all out, and it looks wonderful! All of your versions and dips sound amazong, great job!!!

sunita said...

Great job, your dips :-)

bittersweetblog said...

Even if you say that yours weren't so crisp, they look pretty darn perfect to me. Excellent work, as always!

friedwontons4u said...

Love the different ranges of dips you made. The butterflies look lovely.

Sunshinemom said...

The crackers look cracking! Dips are great too - liked the sev topping best:)

Medhaa said...

What a great idea to make chat with them, I will try this the next time.

Allergy Mom said...

Wow, I'd love a peek at your spice cabinet, if you don't mind a post suggestion!

Great crackers and dips! I've never thought to combine apple and tomato before, definitely an inspirational chutney. Libby

Suzana said...

I've also used an apple tomato chutney to dip my lavash! :) Great job on the challenge, Aparna.

Joy said...

I love your butterflies

zlamushka said...

Wow, this is fantastic, Aparna. What a great array of dishes. Love the disp and the crakers.... i looove snacking, you just tickled my taste buds :-)

Btw, I hope you are participating this month´s T&T. We re cooking from Monsoon Spice. I have extended the deadline for another 10 days, so please, when you get a chance, I am sure you ll love Sia´s recipes.

DEESHA said...

looks lovely .. guilt free indulgence

maybelle's mom said...

Alright, delete this if it is a double comment...

Great job. Beautiful pictures. But, my favorite is the chaat round with sev. perfection.

zorra said...

Yummie, the onion peanut dip I will test soon.

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Cute butterflies!!! And delicious dips as well! I wanna try with whole wheat next too.

Divya Vikram said...

Seeing a lot of lavash crackers around..Yours look creative n nicely shaped.

Ivonne said...

Wow, Aparna, you outdid yourself! I love all the variations. Well done!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Very well done! What beautiful crackers and toppings! Delicious!



karuna said...

loved the crackers, and the indian twist u gave to it. i had tasted the onion peanut chutney once at a friends place. will surely try out your recipe.

Jude said...

Love the pizza flavoring idea. Now why didn't I think of that?

Coco said...

Oh yummy! Sev puri :D I absolutely love how you've done this. I did it in such a rush this time. I wish I had thought of sesoning it with the Japanese salts I've been waiting to use!

Nangil Girl said...

Hi Aparna, yes! it is good to tame the yeast beast :) Your crackers and dips looks awesome! I could have def used more toppings on the crackers. I was stingy becos the recipe warned about going easy on the toppings. But I felt that I could have definetly used more cummin seeds and cinnamon sugar.

Lisa said...

Your dips look AMAZING. That peanut-onion chutney is something I have to try! Having said that, your crackers and photos also look marvelous :)

Eat4Fun said...

Wow! Great looking lavash and photos. I love the chutneys. The potato topped lavash/chaat look absolutely delicious!

Vera said...

Aparna, your crackers turned out great! And I love your dips, as well!

Rosie said...

Beautiful crackers and your dips look amazing!!

Rosie x