Methi Theplas

In food and elsewhere, I've often found 'otherness' very attractive! For instance, when we were kids, our mother slaved over pallya and huli, but it was my friend's shaak and thepla that I drooled over.

Thepla is one of those delightful foods that has a personality all its own. Its based on the same principle as a paratha but has a completely different taste and aroma. Conjures up a completely different mood. My favorite theplas are usually methi (fenugreek) but I've also made combinations of spinach and methi and then, theres Trupti's intriguing zucchini theplas. Her recipe works extraordinarily well. Its really all about proportions: vegetable: flour: spice.

Heres what I did:
1. Combine one cup greens (methi and/or spinach), one cup atta (fine ground whole wheat flour, whole wheat bread flour or whole wheat pastry flour may work, in a pinch) and two tablespoons besan (garbanzo bean /chick pea flour).
2. Added one choppped green chili, one teaspoon each minced ginger and garlic.
3. Added salt to taste, and half a teaspoon of turmeric and kneaded into a smooth soft dough.
4. Let it rest 20 minutes and rolled it into 5 inch diameter circle-like (ahem!) shapes. Cooked on a hot skillet (with half a teaspoon oil / side) till brown spots appear.

The dough is easy to work with and rolls out easily into little theplas. Serve hot with chundo, pickle and/or yoghurt. Chundo, a sweet and sour chutney, is yet another example of the rapturous ingenuity showcased in Gujrati cooking. The theplas are somehow lighter than the average parathas I make. They keep well and travel well. I've always thought of theplas as friendly food! Probably because they're so easy-going!

I love Gujrati food! I have pledged undying devotion to Chetana, a stone's throw from Jehangir and Rhythm House in Kala Ghoda. I love the light-hearted, sweet - piquant combinations that are often the hallmark of Gujrati home-cooking. Its almost like a state of mind - carefree, but with a zest for life. This one goes to Mythili at Vindu for RCI-Gujrati food. Can't wait for the round-up! The theplas also go to Chili and Ciabatta for Bread Baking Day #7 - Flatbreads!

Resources on the web:
1. My grocer stocks this Chundo
2. A big thank you to the food-bloggers who I turn to when I look for Gujrati food-help: Enjoy Indian Food, The Spice who loved me, The Spice Cafe

Don't Be Poolish

My first (read 'foolishly ambitious') attempt at baking bread was an uneqivocal disaster. Not even fit for a doorstop. Sigh.

It all started last Fall... I was THRILLED TO BITS when Suganya of Tasty Palettes sent me some Amish Friendship Bread Starter! I rubbed my hands with glee and made all sorts of plans that involved the creation of a lovely loaf of bread. However, I was short on time and in a stupendous burst of thickheaded-ness decided to stop feeding the starter and use it right away. Text book example of 'Vinasha Kale Viparita Buddhi'. Eloquently translated here but perhaps more succintly summarized as, 'Grr'!!

Next thing you know, that manic gleam appeared in my eye. Whole grain bread was my objective and I would let nothing stand my way. Fortunately, the Fresh Loaf came to my rescue. Utterly. Fabulous.

The more time I spend on that site, the more I enjoy it. It had everything I needed to get started: recipes, pictures. To my complete and utter delight, breadmakers tend to be science enthusiasts. They keep track of their proofing and their experiments. They plot charts. Set up workbooks in MS Excel. These are my people. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, its all a matter of taste. And of course, theres no substitute for working the dough with your hands. Such an intriguing mix of personal experience and science.

In addition, I've turned into a Peter Reinhart devotee. This is my third time making the MultiGrain Hearth Bread from his latest book, "Whole Grain Breads".

Heres what I did:
I confess that I plan my life around this bread. I make the soaker with cooked grains, specifically: steel cut oats, millet and kasha. The biga and dough get fine ground whole wheat flour from Lori's. I've also chucked in organic oat flour in the final dough. I follow the recipe to the letter (how often do I say this, huh?). For this bread, I have been known bite the utility-bill bullet and turn up the heat so the dough will rise!

Its the best multi-grain bread I've eaten and it considerably improves my reputation as a cook! I've eaten it for breakfast, served it with soup and even as a post-run snack with peanut butter.

The crust turns out great, due to the dousing of the hot oven with water. The crumb is dense. Probably because of all the cooked whole grain in the soaker. This bread has personality. Its like that incredibly smart, quiet guy in the room. The one with calm eyes, who is so confident that he simply doesn't need to boast or brag!

All that apart, Thank you Suganya for the starter that started it all!

1. For copyright reasons, I did not post the recipe. A good multi-grain bread to start with: Peter Reinhart's Struan
2. More reviews of the Multi-Grain Hearth Bread


Miso dressing

Greetings y'all!! I just got back from Nashville, TN! The conference I attended was in a vaguely jurassic-park like biosphere. We did go out into the real world at nightfall to take in the sights and sounds of downtown Nashville. And what glorious sounds they were! Yes, I ate fried green tomatoes and collard greens and cornbread!

Still, conference food and airline food are notorious for their ugh-ness. I came home seeking something simple and fresh. My stalker-like devotion to Heidi Swanson paid off - heres a simplified version of a salad featured in 'SuperNatural Cooking'.

Carrot and Radish salad with Miso Dressing

1. Chop up carrots and radish into matchsticks so you have two cups of chopped vegetable goodness.
2. Mix together 3 tablespoons each brown rice vinegar and olive oil, 1 tablespoon each honey and miso and a teaspoon of chopped garlic.

The results were fabulous! I don't have an intuitive feel for miso and have goofed up often. But this recipe really opened me up to the many miso-possibilities. I used dark (barley) miso. Apparently the darker kind is more hearty and appropriate for the winter. Indeed, as I scrape quarter inch ice off my windscreen, almost every morning, it often crosses my mind that winter has arrived in Rochester. Ha. But I digress. Make this miso dressing. Its good for you. No, really. Miso has live cultures (of god alone knows what!) and all that health-buzz.

On that note, toodles, gentle reader!

- Opryland Resort picture gracefully lifted from here.
- Original recipe in SuperNatural Cooking. Please consult the book for proportions and original ingredients :-)

Salad Daze: Don't miss the fabulous round-up at Waiter, Theres Something In My ... Salad!