Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Orange (Kinnow) Marmalade

Yes I made Marmalade.

To be frank, its not long back when I didn't even know what marmalade is. Let alone I would imagine making it. But I was planning to make the traditional Christmas Cake this time. The recipe for the cake needed marmalade. I got excited and scared. First of all, I read in detail about the major differences between marmalade and jam. What happened next is part of history now and this post is a proof of it.

I don't usually go out buying things if I can make them myself. Even if I am time or ingredient pressurized. I didn't had oranges but I had something very similar from the citrus fruit family. I had kinnows. It looks very similar to orange. It has a lot of seeds in it so it is not that easy to eat it. My sister and brother in law had bought kilos of it over the weekend and I utilized about a kilo out of them. The traditional orange marmalade uses seville orange which is a much bitter tasting orange and hence is used in making marmalade. Seville Oranges are also preferred for making marmalades as their seeds have high pectin content (pectin helps in setting up the jam). I reduced the amount of sugar in the recipe to balance the bitterness of the much sweeter kinnows.

I made so much marmalade that it filled 1 big and 2 smaller jars. Smaller jars would make good gifts for my friends whom I am about to visit. :)

What is the basic difference between marmalade and jam? While making marmalade, the peel is also added and cooked. The peel adds to the bitterness of the fruit preserve.

Making marmalade is not a lot of hard work. But yes, it does require you to follow a series of steps and takes a few hours to cook. Believe me, its all worth the effort. ;)

Orange Marmalade
Recipe Adapted from: TheWednesdayChef

1. 1 kg Kinnows ( You can use a different version of orange and adjust the sugar accordingly)
2. 900 g sugar
3. 2 litre water

Steps to make the marmalade:

1. Wash the oranges. Remove the peel by making cuts on the peel which divides it into four.
2. Chop the peel. I chopped it to a width of 2-3 mm that is neither too thick nor too thin. You can chop as per your liking.
3. Put the peel in a cast iron pot.
4. Squeeze the juice out of the peeled fruit in the pot. Carefully remove the seeds and keep them aside.
5. Chop the flesh from which juice has been squeezed out and add to the pot.
6. Take a muslin cloth and place the seeds in it. Tie the mouth of the cloth and put it in the skillet.
7. Add water.
8. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it simmer on medium heat till the peel becomes soft and translucent. It took the mixture around an hour to reach that point.
9. Let the mixture rest overnight. ( I covered it and left it on the gas)
10. Remove the cloth from the mixture while squeezing the juice out of the cloth back in the skillet (make sure the mouth of the cloth remains tied up).  The seeds were cooked with the mixture as they contain pectin which helps in setting up of jams or marmalades.
11. Bring the marmalade to boil. Add the sugar and stir well while still on boil.
12. Cook on medium flame while stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes to an hour or till the marmalade reaches the point where it can set.  To check for the setting point, place a few plates in the freezer. At an interval of 5-7 minutes (after the initial 30 minutes), place some of the marmalade on the plate taken out from the freezer. If the marmalade is runny, keep cooking. If it sticks and is wrinkly, the marmalade is done. Wrinkly means, if you push the marmalade with your finger, wrinkles appears on its surface.
13. Keep some air tight jars well washed and dried up. As soon as the marmalade is cooked, pour it in the jars and seal well.
14. Let the marmalade jars rest overnight.

Enjoy the marmalade. Use it in desserts or spread on toasts. ;)

Soon enough I am going to post a recipe of Christmas Cake which uses it. :)

Wholewheat Pita with Baba Ghanoush, Yogurt Cucumber dip and Spinach & Corn Kebabs

I wanted to make pitas for dinner. It was too late to soak the chickpeas for hummus and falafel. But there were other things that I could manage within the given time. I made wholewheat pita, homemade tahini, baba ghanoush, yoghurt cucumber dip and spinach & corn kebabs.

It was a wholesome and healthy meal. It was the kind of lebanese mezze I always imagined serving up. Everything tasted delicious and the combination of all the flavors and cool/hot components went amazingly well together.

Most of the pitas puffed up and a few did not. I didn't care as all of them tasted delicious. :)

I am posting recipes for all the different components of the platter separately so it is easier for everyone.

The recipe of the pita involves making sponge and dough separately.

Whole Wheat Pita
Recipe Source: Wildyeastblog
Makes 8 pita breads

Ingredients for the sponge:
1. 225 g whole wheat flour
2. 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
3. 280 g lukewarm water

Ingredients for the Doughs:
1. Sponge made above
2. 1.5 tsp salt
3. 1.5 tsp olive oil
4. 185 g whole wheat flour

Steps to make the sponge:
1. Activate the yeast in half of the lukewarm water i.e. 140 ml. (Dissolve a pinch of sugar in the water and then dissolve the yeast. Keep aside for 10 minutes or till there is formation of foam on the top)
2. Combine all the ingredients of the sponge together. Keep aside the covered sponge for an hour.

Steps to make the dough:
1. Add salt and oil to the sponge and mix well.
2. Add flour and mix well. The dough would be very sticky.
3. Flour a work surface and transfer the dough to it using a spatula.
4. Start kneading the dough. Add little more water and flour as per the requirement.
    If the dough is too sticky add some water. Knead. If it is still sticky add some flour.
    I had to knead for about 15 minutes to bring on the smoothness in the dough.
5. Place the dough in a bowl and cover it. Keep aside for 1.5 hrs or until double in size.

Steps to make the Pita bread:
1. Take out the dough and knead for a few minutes to degas it.
2. Divide the dough into 8 balls of equal size.
3. Roll out the dough in a circular shape with a diameter of around 7-8 inches. The thickness will be of around 2 mm. Leave them on the work surface covered for 10 minutes.
4. Preheat your oven to 230 degree Celsius with the baking stone inside it. I didn't had a baking stone so used the baking tray instead by turning it upside down.
5. Place a parchment paper on the baking tray. Sprinkle a little flour on the paper.
6. Bake the pita by placing it on the parchment paper for around 4 minutes. They will puff up. If they don't puff still take them out.
    I brushed one pita with water and it also helped in puffing up the pita.
7. Keep baking and serve hot.

Baba Ghanoush
Recipe adapted from: Baba Ghanoush
Makes about a cup full

Ingredients for Baba Ghanoush:
1. 1 medium sized egg plant
2. 1 finely chopped garlic clove
3. 2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste, make a paste of toasted white sesame seeds and olive oil. The paste should be thick yet pourable)
4. juice of half lemon
5. salt to taste
for garnish:
6. 2-3 tbsp olive oil
7. fine chopped coriander leaves

Steps to prepare the Baba Ghanoush:
1. Poke the eggplant with a fork. Roast it well.
2. Once the eggplant cools down a bit, remove the brown skin.
3. Mash and mix the eggplant well with other ingredients. Don't make it too smooth.
4. While serving pour the olive oil and the chopped coriander on top.

Yogurt Cucumber Dip
Recipe source: Cucumber Dip

Ingredients for the yogurt cucumber dip:
1. 1 medium cucumber
2. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
3. 350 gram thick yogurt
4. 1 garlic clove, minced well
5. fine chopped mint or coriander
6. a pinch of red chilly powder
7. salt to taste

Steps to prepare the yogurt cucumber dip:
1. Peel the cucumber and remove the seeds. Chop the cucumber.
2. Stir the yogurt till it become smooth.
3. Add all the ingredients to the yogurt.
4. Keep in the fridge till required.

Spinach & Corn Kebabs
Makes 8-10 kebabs

Ingredients for Spinach & Corn Kebabs:
1. 1 medium size fine chopped red onion
2. handful of boiled corn kernels
3. half of a spinach bunch, chopped very finely
4. 1 finely chopped green chilli
5. 3-4 tbsp corn flour (or as per the binding needs)
6. 1/2 tsp red chilly powder
7. 1/4 tsp garam masala
8. 1/4 tsp dry mango powder
9. oil to fry
10. salt to taste
11. Add water only if required ( spinach has good amount of water content)

Steps to prepare the kebabs:
1. Mix all the ingredients together.
2. Prepare around 8-10 balls out of the mixture.
3. Heat oil in a wok and deep fry the kebabs until golden brown.

Steps to assemble the pita:
1. Cut the pita open.
2. Place one or two kebabs in it.
3. Fill the pita pocket with baba ghanoush and cucumber dip as per your liking.

All the components, standalone and together, turned out to be amazing. I didn't miss falafel at all. ;)

Go ahead and make this wholesome healthy meal of wholewheat pita and the other various components in this lebanese mezze.

Happy Holidays :)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Chicken Biryani

I don't think there is anyone who eats chicken and doesn't love chicken biryani.

I love it. I specially fell in love with it when I was working at an Italian restaurant. Well you would be thinking, biryani and Italian, what kind of a combination is that?

All the chefs in the kitchen were Indian and a few were from Nepal. Everyday, the dinner for the people working in the kitchen and service area was made by a Chef assigned for the same purpose. Though the dinner used to be mainly some lentil and rice with a dry vegetable or gravy. Who loves eating that everyday? Well, certainly I did not. I worked with Chef Surendra in the appetizer section. He hailed from South India. At the end of the day we sometimes made something exciting for us just to eat well and end the day happily. Chef Surendra used to make everything so perfect. And he was so humble and so easy going. He always made me learn new things and treated me so well. We three used to have dinner together everyday, I, Surendra Chef and Xavier Chef. Xavier Chef worked in the main section. Now I am not in touch with them but I had a conversation with Xavier chef just a few days ago. Whenever I eat or make chicken I remember those days and the tips of cooking chicken which Surendra Chef used to give me. He was amazing at making all kinds of chicken, prawns and actually everything. Whenever I would see him making something for dinner I would get happy imagining that it would end up on my plate. He always shared. He is a very nice man and I hope to get in touch with him soon. I had not planned but I think this post is kind of a thank you to him. I thank him for his kind nature, humble behavior, patience, ever green smile and simplicity. God make such people in fewer numbers now. I will always remember him. He may not even know that I do but yes I will always remember him.

Oh my god! I am getting so nostalgic. Amazing time it was. It happens with me all the time. Whenever I am cooking or I am in the kitchen I forget about outside things. I am involved, engaged and happy. Nothing bothers me anymore. So in the restaurant as well it was so very different. I never used to think about anything else while working in the kitchen. I just worked, served food and tried to improve.

Chef Surendra, this post and this chicken biryani is dedicated to you. You were my first mentor and I thank you for everything.

This chicken biryani is my own creation and has a special touch of the green cilantro chutney that I have been eating and making since I am like 8-9 years old. I don't eat food with chutney, instead I eat chutney with food. How so very obsessed I am!

I am providing the recipe here for this chutney/sauce which will last you for days though I just used a few table spoons of it for the marinade. But don't worry its a keeper. If you don't like it spicy then you may reduce the number of green chilies. I don't use any red chilly in the chutney. Store and save the chutney in the fridge. You can eat it with sandwiches, chapati, rice and so on.....

Chicken Biryani
Serves 3-4


For the Marinade:
1. 2 chicken legs
2. 4 tbsp cilantro chutney  (recipe below)
3. 1 tbsp tandoor masala (I used store bought, I am about to post a recipe of home made tandoor masala very soon so hold on)
4. 2 tbsp ginger paste
5. 2 tbsp garlic paste

For the Cilantro Chutney:
1. half a bunch of coriander
2. 1 red Onion
3. lime juice - from half lemon (or as per taste)
4. 7-8 green chilies (as per taste and also depends on the bitterness of the chili)
5. 6-7 garlic cloves
6. 2 tbsp ginger paste
7. salt to taste
8. 2-3 tbsp water

For the rice:
1. 300 g basmati rice
2. 2 bayleaves
3. 5 - 6 black peppercorn
4. 3 cloves
5. 3 star anise
6. 4 small pieces of cardamom stick
7. salt to taste
8. 750 ml water

For the gravy:
1. 2 medium size red onion
2. 3 tomatoes
3. 2 green chilly
4. 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
5. 1/2 tsp cumin powder
6. 1/2 tsp garam masala
7. 1/ 2 tsp red chilly powder
8. 1/2 tbsp garlic paste
9. 1/2 tbsp ginger paste
10. 3-4 tbsp olive oil
11. salt to taste

Also keep a handful of chopped coriander for garnish.

First prepare the chutney and then marinate the chicken. While the chicken is cooking you can do the rest of the preparation i.e. cook rice and make the gravy.

Steps to prepare the green cilantro chutney:
1. Wash and clean the ingredients
2. Coarsely chop and grind in a mixture.

Steps to marinate and cook chicken:
1. Mix the ingredients for the marinade together.
2. Make cuts on the chicken legs and cover properly with the marinade.
3. Keep the marinade for an hour in the fridge.
4. Preheat the oven to 200 degree Celsius.
5. Cook the chicken for 20 minutes. It will get golden brownish in color. If the chicken is well cooked, it will fall off the bone very easily.

Steps to prepare the rice:
1. Soak the rice and whole spices for 5-10 minutes in salt and water.
2. Cover and cook the rice till the water disappears. Rice shall be partially cooked.

Steps to prepare the gravy:
1. Saute the onion in oil.
2. Add ginger paste & garlic paste.
3. Take out some of the onion for garnishing the biryani.
4. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, red chilli powder and salt to the onion.
5. Add the tomatoes & green chilly and cook them properly.
6. Add cooked chicken and garam masala.
7. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Steps to assemble the biryani:
1. Lay a layer of rice in a steam pressure cooker or any utensil with a flat base.
2. Lay a layer of the gravy.
3. Lay another layer of rice.
4. Lay another layer of gravy.
5. Garnish with chopped coriander and the onion.
6. Add 50 ml of water.
7. Cook for 5 minutes. Add more water if required.

Serve hot.

The biryani had an amazing taste and some wonderful flavors. The rice soaked with whole spices had an enriched aroma. The chicken was so well soaked in the marinade. You must have noticed the use of ginger and garlic paste a multiple times. Well, that's how much I love ginger and garlic. ;)

Overall an amazing recipe for chicken biryani. Have fun cooking and eating. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Butter Chicken

Whenever I go to buy groceries it takes me quite sometime. I try to find newer sections with newer ingredients. Obviously I also buy chicken every time. Chicken is something I am a big fan of. There are so many ways to prepare chicken and it hasn't disappointed me yet. I am still putting in efforts to make my brother in law and sister eat chicken. I have been quite successful. They love whatever I make. I have made the empire hotel style chicken (one of the classics of the empire hotel range in bangalore), different versions of marinated chicken, tandoori chicken, chicken curry, chicken biryani and this time I made butter chicken.

My sister and brother in law just loved it. I have never seen them devouring any piece of meat like they devoured these chicken legs. My brother in law and niece ate the residual chicken for lunch the next day and they were one happy pair of father and daughter.

Butter Chicken is a typical punjabi curry which every punjabi loves to eat day and night. I know this through my previous experiences ;). Its their trademark dish and well the way it taste, it should be. Well I would be lying here if I say I don't love it. Though its true that I fell in love with it even more when I made it at home. I had fun making it and then eating it. We had it with tandoori roti.

If you are in love with butter chicken or more so if you are not, then make this. Its a well balanced recipe in terms of sweetness and sourness. The sweetness and smoothness of the cream blended well with the sourness from the yoghurt and lemon. The chicken was well cooked and I was at peace when I tasted it knowing that I have done justice to it.

Butter Chicken
3 chicken legs
Recipe Source: Rias Collection

For marinade:
1. 3 chicken legs  (As I said, I am still in the process of converting my sister and brother in law into hard core non vegetarians. Considering the progress, these quantities would change soon. If you want to make more you can adjust the ingredients accordingly. You can use any part of chicken. Do remember that the marinate should cover the chicken properly and should be enough to be mixed with the gravy as well)
2. 1 tbsp lime juice
3. 1/2 tbsp ginger paste
4. 1/2 tbsp garlic paste
5.  300 grams thick yoghurt
6. 3 - 4 tbsp tomato puree
7. 1 tbsp tandoori masala (You can get a packet of this in any grocery store)
8. 1 tbsp melted butter

For the gravy:
1. 1 tbsp ghee
2. 1/2 tbsp ginger paste
3. 1/2 tbsp garlic paste
4. 1/2 tsp dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
5. 80 g fresh cream
6. 1-2 green chili (as per taste)
7. 1 chopped tomato
8. salt to taste

Wash the chicken properly. I had kept it in the freezer, so I took it out and defrosted it in the microwave. Now make slits on the chicken legs. Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl and add the chicken to it. Keep the bowl in the fridge for about 1.5 hours covered with a cling film. The marination works wonder if you give it enough time. So you can keep the marinate for a much longer time, say overnight. Well 1.5 hours just worked wonders for me so no complaints there.

Pre heat the oven at 205 degree Celsius. Take out the chicken from the fridge and spread it on a baking tin. Cook the chicken along with the left over marinade in the oven for 30 minutes or till the juices run clear. While the chicken is in the oven start preparing the gravy. I kept peeking in the oven to see the juices running out of the chicken :)

Heat up the ghee in a wok. Now add ginger paste and garlic paste. Fry for a minute or so. Then add chopped tomatoes and salt. Let this simmer for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have completely softened up and seem to merge in. Now add the chicken, the left over cooked marinade, green chilli and kasuri methi. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add cream and let it melt properly.

No matter how much I talk about the taste of this chicken, it does not seem to do justice. Make it and tell yourself. :)

Have fun cooking.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia

Yes, I accept. I am on a bread expedition. No, I am not mad. :)

I have made Masala Focaccia and then The Perfect White Loaf. How can I not make another focaccia when the previous one turned out so well! Believe me its not just Mar*****a, bread baking also is addictive (all pun intended).

I always turn to Jamie Oliver if I have to find any full proof recipe. Oh, how much I love him! His food is wholesome, simple and gives warmth. He is trying to do a good deed. He wants people, specially young generation, to eat good and healthy food. He has taken up so many initiatives to achieve that. He has been to schools and colleges just to educate people that a school lunch could be a lot more healthy and nutritious. He has taught the people of UK to prepare their own meals (initiatives like 15 minute meals) and have taught them about healthy food. Another such initiative is a two level course designed specially for students to learn cooking and eat healthy. This recipe is from this course. I wish him good luck and hope he achieves what he is aiming. I share similar views. I feel that if we cook food at home more frequently, we will be having much more healthy meals. I want to encourage all my friends to start cooking at home and start eating a lot more healthy. Cooking and eating at home also brings families together.

Bread making process is a symphony for me. It is a therapeutic and a satisfying process such as writing and poetry. I am myself when I write. I am myself when I am making bread. It brings easiness and comfort to my life. Each creation is close to my heart. Okay, let me not get too poetic. I have another blog for poetry and writing so you guys are safe. :)

So tell me! What's better than fresh home made focaccia drizzled with olive oil? Don't think so much. Nothing. :)

Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia
Adapted from Jamie Oliver Course

1. 500 g all purpose flour + extra for dusting
2. 312 ml water (water should neither be too hot nor cold, I warm up the water in microwave oven for about 25-30 seconds)
3. 3 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
4. 1 tbsp sugar
5. 1 tbsp salt + extra to sprinkle
6. 1/4 to 1/2 tsp black pepper (as per your taste)
7. 7-8 garlic cloves
8. 1 tsp dry rosemary
9. olive oil for greasing and drizzling


As always start with proofing the yeast. Meanwhile you can measure out your ingredients. Proofing means activating the yeast so that it can eat upon carbohydrates and release carbon dioxide which will puff up your bread. To proof the yeast, mix the sugar in about 100 ml water. Sugar is the food for yeast. Now dissolve the yeast in the water by mixing it with a spoon. When it seems to have dissolved or have formed a semi solid paste, keep it aside for 5-10 minutes. If the top of the yeast has foam or bubbly layer, it has activated and is ready to use. If there are no bubbles, keep it for a few more minutes.

Mixing the Ingredients

Now sieve the flour and flour together. Make a well with the flour. Pour half of the water in the well. Now using a fork or your hands bring the flour from the walls of the well inside. It will start to form a spongy mixture. Now add the remaining half of the water in the well and mix well. The dough would have formed a sticky ball by now. You are ready to knead the dough.


Flour the work surface and start kneading the dough. I have explained the importance and details of the kneading process in my previous post, The Perfect White Loaf. Kindly refer to that. I kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes and then took the window pane test. It was perfect.

The First Rise

Grease a bowl with olive oil and place the dough in it. Cover it with a damp tea towel and keep somewhere warm to rise. I kept it inside my oven. Let it rest for about an hour or till the dough gets double in size.

The Herb Seasoning

This step is basically preparing the garlic and rosemary that will go on top of your bread. Punch down the garlic cloves with the back of a knife or anything heavy. Now drizzle olive oil on the garlic and rosemary and sprinkle some salt and pepper to season them. Crush the garlic and rosemary together using your hand so that they blend into each others flavor.


Check if the dough has doubles in size. If yes, it is ready to be punched. Punching the dough will remove the big air holes and will give yeast fresh flour to feed upon. It will add to the texture and flavor of the bread. Punch the dough to push out the air. Knead the dough again for 3-4 minutes.

The Second Rise

Grease a 9x7 inch tin in which you plan to bake the bread. Place the dough in it and using your hands pull out the dough to cover the corners and sides of the pan. Spread the cloves and rosemary on the dough and push them in using your fingers. Poke the bread with your wet fingers to give the bread a simply authentic focaccia texture. Drizzle olive oil on the top of the bread. Remember that a good focaccia has a good amount of olive oil in it. Keep the dough covered with a damp tea towel again for its second rise. Let it rest for about an hour or till it doubles in size.


Preheat your oven to 220 degree Celsius. If you feel the bread has lost the dimply texture because of rising, poke it with wet fingers again. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the top of it.
Keep it inside the oven for 15-20 minutes or untill it gets a golden crunchy top. It took about 15 minutes for the bread to cook. To check if it is cooked you can also tap the bottom of the bread and see if it sounds hollow.

Cooling and Slicing

After taking the pan out of the oven, take the bread out of the pan immediately so that it does not get soggy. Place it on the steel grill that comes with the oven. If you keep the bottom on a plate or any other surface which does not let air pass through, it will get soggy. Cut the bread in any shape of your liking. I cut it in long slices and had it with olive oil.

The bread was soft and light on the inside and crunchy on the outside.  It had the smoky flavor of garlic and the rosemary was working well with it. This recipe is definitely a keeper. You can replace the garlic and rosemary with herbs of your choice. You can eat it with butter, mayonnaise or any cheese dip. I just love to have it simply with olive oil.

So enjoy baking the bread and then eating it. Hope to bring some more delicious recipes to you.

Submitted for YeastSpotting

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Perfect White Loaf

I have failed at some breads and have succeeded at some. My ciabattas have flattened out on me and my focaccias have made me proud. Now the breads come out well and none of the stages in bread making scares the bazinga out of me. I thought I will make the basic bread which we have been eating since our childhood. That basic bread is the white loaf. 

I have started baking breads very recently, say maybe a month or two. I keep reading about yeast, gluten, kneading, punching and all the components whose knowledge comes in handy while baking a bread. Still I feel there is so much more that I need to learn to perfection the art of making bread.
Yes it is an art to make bread. You start with heaps of white flour and the result is something so rich and full of textures.  The house becomes aromatic. The dough need tender care to take the best shape and texture. The whole bread making process will calm you down and the aromas would take you to another world. Baking bread is not difficult. It just needs certain things to be right without which it will not rise properly or there will be no proper gluten formation. Let me take you through the basic steps here so that you can easily bake your bread and hopefully bake it right. It is a simple recipe. Just follow the steps carefully and stick to the measurements. Enjoy the whole process. Watch the dough rising in the bowl, smell the fresh yeasty aroma and watch the bread baking in the oven which finally give the bread its shape and rise. At the end of this recipe you will have an absolutely beautiful puffed up bread with a fresh yeasty aroma.

The Perfect White Loaf
Recipe Source: Kitchen Kemistry

1. 4 cups (440 g) + extra for dusting all purpose flour (depending on the humidity and temperature you may need lesser or more flour. I required about 20-30 grams more than what the original recipe mentioned. So I ended up using about 460 grams of flour including dusting)
2. 1 1/2 cup (360 ml) water (neither too hot nor cold, I kept the water in microwave for about 25-30 seconds)
3. 2 1/4 ts active dry yeast or 1 3/4 ts instant yeast
4. 1 1/2 tsp salt
5. pinch of sugar
6. Olive oil for greasing


Start with proofing the yeast. If you are using instant yeast you need not do anything. But if you are using active dry yeast you have to proof the yeast. Proofing means activating the yeast so that it can eat upon carbohydrates and release carbon dioxide which will puff up your bread. To proof the yeast, mix a pinch of sugar in warm water. Sugar is the food for yeast. Now dissolve the yeast in the water by mixing it with a spoon. When it seems to have dissolved or have formed a semi solid paste, keep it aside for 5-10 minutes. If the top of the yeast has foam or bubbly layer, it has activated and is ready to use. If there are no bubbles, keep it for a few more minutes.

Mixing the Ingredients

Now sieve the flour and salt together. Take about half of the flour and start adding water to it a table spoon at a time. I mixed the flour using a wooden spatula as I don't have a stand mixer. If you have one, use it. It will ease the process of mixing the ingredients. Keep adding the water (about 1/4 cup at a time) and flour (about half a cup at a time) alternately. Use all the water and add flour as per the requirement. Add extra flour only if required. The dough will be sticky but you would be able to hold it together. Now dust a work surface with flour and transfer the dough to it.


This is the time to start kneading. Kneading is a very important step. Kneading helps in the formation of gluten. Gluten is the protein which is formed when yeast and water are added to flour. When the yeast releases carbon dioxide, it gets trapped within the gluten structures. The smooth gluten strands and the air trapped within them give bread its spongy structure. If the dough is not kneaded properly or is over kneaded the bread will become heavy/dense or too dry. If you are kneading by hand you need not worry about the over kneading. But if you are kneading using a machine just make sure that you don't over knead it. Kneading involves turning, folding and pressing the dough.

Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. To test if the bread is kneaded sufficiently, take the window pane test. Take a part of the dough and stretch it out so that it becomes translucent. If the dough doesn't tear apart it is ready to be kept for rising. Else knead it for a few more minutes and test it again.

The First Rise

Grease a bowl with oil and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl with a lid which gives the dough enough space to rise. Keep the bowl in a warm place. I keep it inside my oven itself. Let the dough sit for 45 minutes or till its double in size. During this time, yeast will eat upon carbohydrates and release carbon di oxide which will get trapped within the strands of gluten. If yeast is not activated the dough won't rise.

To make sure the dough has risen enough, take the rise test. Push your fingers inside the dough upto the second knuckle and if they leave the imprints it is ready to be punched.


Punching the dough will remove the big air holes and will give yeast fresh flour to feed upon. It will add to the texture and flavor of the bread. Punch the dough to push out the air. Knead the dough again for 3-4 minutes.

Rolling and Shaping

Now roll it out. I rolled it out to a thickness of 1 inch.  You have to give a shape to the bread now. Start folding in the dough from one side. Keep rolling it over so that the dough starts taking a shape of a long cylinder. Now grease a 9x4 loaf pan. Fold the two ends of the dough so that it fits in the pan lengthwise. Keep the dough inside the pan with the seem facing down.

The Second Rise

Cover it with a plastic cling film and keep it for its second rise. This second rise will help in the formation of gluten and will give a better texture to the bread. Wait for another 25- 30 minutes or till it doubles in size. Do not let the bread spill out of the pan.


Meanwhile pre heat your oven at 190 degree celsius. Also keep a bowl of water inside the oven. As the water evaporates to form steam, the steam will keep the oven humid enough to slow down the process of cooking the top of the bread and will prevent the crust from hardening up while the bread is still cooking. Now place the loaf pan on the middle level of the oven. Set the timer for about 45 minutes.

Do make sure to check the bread in  between. Somehow in my oven the steam was not getting properly trapped so the top was cooking faster. Hence I covered the top with aluminium foil so that I can give it enough time to bake without getting the top burned. To check if the bread is cooked properly, tap the bottom of the bread. If it sounds hollow it is done. I took the bread out exactly after 45 minutes.

Cooling and Slicing

After taking the pan out take the bread out of the pan immediately so it does not get soggy. Place it on the steel grill that comes with the oven. If you keep the bottom on a plate or any other surface which does not let air pass through, it will get soggy. Let it cool down for about 30 minutes so that the hot air inside the bread settles down. Now cut with a serrated knife to get fine slices. (I am missing my serrated knife hence used the normal knife thus the not so beautifully shaped slices)

This is bread, you can serve it with whatever you feel like. The bread was soft from inside,  like really really soft. We had it with freshly made egg bhurji and it was a meal to remember.

So don't worry about the yeast, kneading or the gluten formation. Take care of the ingredient measurement, smaller details like window pane test, cooking at the right temperature and you would be good to go.

I am on a bread baking spurge. So wait for my next post which is all about Jamie Oliver's garlic and rosemary focaccia.

Have fun baking bread!

Submitted for Yeastspotting