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October 09 COTM: "Indian" Bread

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Welcome to the October 2009 Chow Cookbook of the Month featuring:

Classic Indian Cooking, by Julie Sahni
&
Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking

Please post your full-length reviews of *Bread* recipes here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the book or author and page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

This thread will encompass the following chapters-

Jaffrey, "Bread"
Sahni, bread recipes from "Accompanying Staples"

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Potato- and Herb-Stuffed Bread (Aloo Paratha)
    Sahni, page 409

    The dough is very supple and easy to work with, and the filling is tasty, but rather bland. (It could use some onions.) There was precisely enough of each, so nothing was left over. However, it takes 3.5 minutes to cook each paratha, so that's almost an hour to cook all 12. Add to that the time making the dough, making the filling, then stuffing and rolling them out, and there goes Saturday afternoon. :-(

    All in all I'm happy with them. I plan to serve them with the spinach raita that Sahni suggests, and see how that goes.

    Sorry the photos aren't very clear, but I hope you can see the layers.

     
     
     
    2 Replies
    1. re: Channa

      I can understand your frustration with time spent, but the result looks just beautiful!

      1. re: Channa

        could cook in more than one pan, to move it along a bit. 12 of these would be a lot to make at one time unless you have a really big family or intend to freeze them. maybe an extra green chile/more salt /for the blandness?

        they really look beautiful.

        1. re: cinnamon girl

          Having recently seen hand made parathas in a Show Me The Curry video, I think yours look really great.

          Btw, you say the filling was a bit bland. What was in it?

        2. Thanks, all!

          Oakjoan, perhaps "bland" is misleading -- maybe "subtle" is a better word. They tasted good by themselves, and also with the spinach-yoghurt salad. But I'd worry that their flavour could get lost if served with spicier dishes.

          Filling for twelve 6" parathas: 4 medium potatoes (Sahni specified 4 oz each), 1/2 tsp red pepper, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1.25 tsp Kosher salt, and 3 Tbl chopped cilantro/coriander leaves. Potatoes are boiled, peeled, mashed, and mixed with above ingredients.

          1. Spinach Bread (Palak Paratha)
            Sahni, page 410

            What can I say about these breads? They're green. . . and taste like cooked spinach.

            The ingredients are white and whole-wheat flours, cooked spinach, salt, and just a bit of cumin. As usual, Sahni's instructions are wonderfully complete. I do love that about her recipes!

            These are easy to make -- instead of several oilings and foldings of the dough, she oils it once, swirls it into a cone, then flattens it, and rolls it out. It's a quick way to get several layers.

            I didn't much care for the taste. Or the colour. But they'd be fun to serve with green beer on St Patrick's Day.

             
             
             
            1. Deep-Fried Puffy Bread (Poori)
              Sahni, page 413

              The dough is made with whole-wheat and white flours, oil, salt, and water. It rests, is rolled into rounds, and deep-fried. While frying, the poori is pressed under the oil, causing it to puff like a pita.

              Dough: Simple enough, but I managed to make a complete mess-up of it. First it was too dry. When I added extra water, I made it too wet. Then more flour, but the dough was fighting me, and it was a struggle.

              Frying: Sahni's instructions say to have the oil at 400˚F and beginning to smoke. That sounded terribly hot, so I decided to fry at several temps to see which was best. But I couldn't find my thermometer, and had to carry on without it. In spite of everything, the pooris came out okay. They all puffed up, which was a happy surprise. Not the prettiest I've seen, but flaky and tasty, none the less.

              I felt they could have used more salt, but that may result from extra flour.

              All in all, these are very rich, and not an everyday bread. For entertaining. . . . perhaps. Sahni gives instructions for reheating, but pooris deflate over time. She warns that they must be served immediately if they are to be served puffed.

               
               
              1. Leavened Oven Bread (Naan)
                Madhur Jaffrey, page 84

                You can see the recipe at:
                http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/534227

                This was easy enough. I did make a few changes -- instant yeast, smaller naans than called for, and cooked in a cast-iron pan (with lid) on top of the stove. Whereas Jaffrey rolls her naans evenly so they'll puff like a pita, I stretched the dough as thin as possible, hoping to have both soft, tender areas, and crispy, bubbly bits.

                I was fairly happy with the texture, but although it was VERY thin going into the pan, it thickened somewhat during cooking. I think I'd lessen the amount of yeast and baking powder. I thought the taste was okay -- but lacked that "restaurant naan" flavour that's so elusive (and good). I plan to play around with the recipe -- less yeast, less egg, overnight retarding in the fridge.