Monday, June 30, 2014

Komaj | Persian bread stuffed with dates

When I tried logging into my blogger account today, I actually needed a minute to remember my password. Either my memory is really failing me, or its been that long since I wrote a post. I know I enjoy cooking / baking and blogging, but some somehow the last couple of months, I just haven't been able to get myself to blog.

I am a part of this group called 'We knead to bake', started by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen where we are given a new bread recipe every month. The fact that I might be out of that group if I skipped another month of baking made me finally get down to baking and posting. I'm glad there is some such rule, otherwise knowing me, I wouldn't get beyond the first month.

komaj5

This month's recipe was Komaj, a Persian bread stuffed with dates. It involves 3 rises of the dough and sounded like a lot of work, but its actually quite simple. The stuffing is a lovely combination of dates, butter and cardamom. The dough also has a lot of Indian spices like turmeric and cumin. I was a bit skeptical about the combination of these very different flavours, but my love for dates made me try this and I'm glad I did !

openkomaj5

Have it as soon as you bake it and its wonderfully soft and delicious. The dates used are the dehydrated ones, but once baked, they almost melt in your mouth

Thanks Aparna for introducing us to this lovely bread. This bread is being Yeastspotted !

Komaj | Persian bread stuffed with dates

What you need -

Dough -
1 tsp instant yeast
1/8 cup warm water
3 3/4 cups APF / maida
2 1/2 tsp toasted and crushed cumin seeds
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg (optional)
2/3 cups warm milk + 2 tbsp
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

Filling -
12 seedless dried dates, chopped
1 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 tsp powdered cardamom
1 - 2 tbsp milk for brushing the dough

What you do with it -

If you use active dried yeast, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and keep it aside for 10 minutes till it froths up a little
I used instant yeast, so skipped this step and added it straight to the flour
Put the flour, 2 tsp of the crushed cumin, sugar, turmeric and salt in the bowl of your food processor and run a couple of times to mix. Then add the yeast, water and the egg and run the processor again, till it is incorporated.
Now add the milk and olive oil, and knead until you have a smooth and pliable dough that’s not sticky. I kneaded a little more milk that mentioned in her recipe. So added 2 tbsp of milk.
Shape the dough into a ball and place in a well-oiled bowl, turn to coat the dough and then cover with a damp cloth and let it rise till it has doubled (took me about 45 mins)
When the dough has risen, deflate it and then shape into a round. Put it back in the bowl for a second rise till it has doubled (another 45 mins).
Prepare the filling by mixing together the chopped dates, soft butter and cardamom together in a bowl.
Divide the dough in to 4 equal portions, and divide each in half so you have 8 portions. Working with one portion at a time, roll each one out into a rectangle that is about between 1/4" thick. I used a cookie cutter with a flower shaped edge that made the komaj look like a little tart !
Press it down lightly to make an impression on one half of the rectangle and add a tsp of the filling there

Brush with a little water over the dough and then fold over to encase the filling completely. Use the same cookie cutter and cut the dough. Press at the edges so the filling doesn't pop out during baking

Repeat with the remaining portions of dough. I got about 14 komaj since my cookie cutter was a little small.
Place these buns on a lightly greased baking tray leaving space between them because they will puff up on baking. Let them sit for about 15 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 200 C. Then brush them with a little milk / egg wash and sprinkle the remaining ½ tsp of crushed cumin on top, pressing it down a little with your fingers
Bake the Komaj at 200C (400F) for about 8 to 10 minutes
Allow them to cool slightly and serve with a cup of tea !

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Stuffed red chilli pickle / Lal mirch ka achaar

Summer is almost here and I thought it was high time I posted this recipe of stuffed red chilli pickle that I made a couple of weeks back.
Winter is a lovely time to be in Ahmedabad. The weather is beautiful and you get some really lovely vegetables and fruits in this season. There are some that are really unique to this state, like ponk or fresh jowar, fresh tuver or pigeon pea and kand or purple yam. I had never heard of these before I moved here. Another really interesting one is the fresh red chilli, which I was always tempted to buy but never knew what to make with it.

red chillies

Fresh chillies drying in the sun

The really friendly and helpful vegetable vendor sometimes even gives me ideas of what I can make with the veggies that are new to me. Like mogri, or radish stems, which he even gave me a recipe for, but unfortunately I didn't like the taste of it too much, way too strong for my taste. He told me this is the red chilli that's used to make the red chilli stuffed pickle. That was the pickle I always enjoyed with parathas at the restaurants serving authentic North Indian food and I was thrilled with the prospect of making my own stuffed red chilli pickle ~

red chilli pickle

Pickle ready to be eaten

I love it with parathas, especially aloo parathas. This pickle is not terribly spicy but has the tangy, bitter and spice tastes all merged together to make it really irresistible. I was so thrilled with the idea of making this and two of my friends here gave me their aunt's / mother's recipes. I combined both these recipes and since I had bought just 10 chillies, I reduced the amount of all the spices, going by the great 'andaaz' or estimation, more than anything else. Its a miracle this pickle turned out right

chilli pickle

Chilli pickle getting sun-cooked

Here's the recipe after all my approximations. I will definitely make a bigger batch next season

Stuffed red chilli pickle / Lal mirch ka achaar

What you need -

10 large fresh red chillies

1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder / hing
3 tbsp dry mango powder / amchoor powder
3 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds / saunf
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
2 tsp kalonji seeds / nigella
2 tbsp salt or to taste

1/3rd cup mustard oil

What you do with it -

Heat the mustard oil to smoking point first, set aside and allow it to completely
Wash chillies and allow to dry completely on a towel, leaving in a sunny place for a day
Dry roast the mustard, fenugreek and fennel seeds. Allow it to cool and then add the nigella seeds to it
Grind it coarsely and keep aside
Add 2 tbsp of oil to the spice mixture
Using a spoon, stuff the mixture into each chilli, whole or slit lengthwise, as you prefer
Add a little oil into each chilli and place these in a clean, dry glass jar and pour the remaining oil over it
Keep it in the sun for 2-3 days
Enjoy the pickle with parathas

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