Sunday, March 22, 2009
Whole wheat and all purpose flours are probably the most commonly used flours when it comes to baking. In my native south Indian community (and most of the meals I cook are this style), we traditionally use very little of either in our cooking. Rice flour (arishi podi) and chickpea flour (kadala podi) are the flours we routinely use, and never for baking.
Our cooking style includes stove-top cooking methods like steaming, stir-frying, and deepfrying but baking is not part of it. For our grandmothers and many of our mothers (in the earlier days, anyway) an oven was unknown in the kitchen.
As for bread, it was only bought when one was ill with a fever or some such thing! In fact, many Indians of my generation would have childhood memories of bread as something they were given when they were ill and so, even today, not be very fond of eating.
Many of us (at least, in urban areas of the country) right across India now regularly cook and eat food which is not necessarily reflect our ethnic backgrounds. So chapathis and parathas (originally north Indian food) are as much a part of our meals as rice and sambhar.
As a result whole wheat flour (and to a lesser extent all purpose flour) has a permanent place in my kitchen. I have also added other grain flours (such as bajra/ pearl millet, jowar/ sorghum, barley, makai/ corn) which have long been used in north India to make very tasty and nutritious flatbreads.
Experimenting a bit with a couple of flours (didn't want to get too adventurous as I had no guarantee this was going to be successful) and some cumin resulted in a slightly dense but tasty bread rolls.
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup barley flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp dry active yeast
1 tbsp milk powder
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Mix the honey and yeast in 3/4 a cup of warm water till the yeast dissolves. Allow it to prove (about 10 minutes or so).
Put all the other ingredients in a bowl (or food processor) and mix well. Add the yeast mixture and enough water and knead (or process) to make a soft dough that is very soft but not sticky. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, rolling the dough ball to cover it with a film of oil. Cover and allow the dough to rise till double.
Gently deflate the dough and divide into 6 portions. Shape into rolls, place on a greased baking sheet and cover them, allowing them to rise a little (about 20 minutes). Brush them with milk and bake at 190C for 25 to 30 minutes till they're brown.
Cool on a rack.
This recipe makes 6 rolls.
These rolls make a nice snack when filled with thin slices of tomatoes, cucumber and cheese. They also go very well with soup, especially creamy vegetable or lentil soups.
This goes off to Ben of What's Cooking? for his Homemade Bread and to Susan for YeastSpotting.