Monday, 19 February 2018

Popped grain is not just for the movies

A stroll down the narrow streets of  old Pune makes one feel as though the last 100 years have melted away. I had gone there a few days ago to discover an entire street dedicated to cane baskets, but in a few moments, I was swept away into the last century.

I mean where else would you find a vegetable market that looks like this?👇

 Ever heard of a chemist who stocks his traditional medicines in unlabelled metal cabinets? I asked the chemist (who seemed only a few years younger than the cabinets) how he ever found anything, and he smiled and modestly said that he remembered where everything was. 👇

One of the treasures I found was a little shop that sold popped grain. There was no sign of pop corn, but the shopkeeper had vats of popped wheat, popped sorghum, popped rice and popped amaranth. I could see bits of skin sticking to the grain, which checked all the wholegrain boxes in my head!

I bought a bit of everything, with no clear idea of what I would do with it, but a few days later, these beauties transformed themselves into ... savoury granola!

I don't have a clear recipe yet, since I was throwing things in, roughly following the recipe for a chivda, but the ingredients that went in were:

Popped wheat, sorghum and rice
Sliced dry coconut
Mustard seeds and asafoetida for popping (seems appropriate doesn't it?
Salt, sugar, curry leaves, finely sliced green chillies and a dash of turmeric powder

I stuck the popped grain into a microwave for a minute or so to restore any lost crispness and then tossed them into tempered oil with the nuts.

A minute or so later, I had a huge tub of fun, crunchy wholegrain granola that tastes great on its own and out of this world with yoghurt.

Shall put up a recipe once I get proportions and nutritional info in place.

PS: I did eventually get to the basket street and I now own enough bannetons to last me a long long long time! 😎

Monday, 12 February 2018

Something like a baguette

This must have been the most complicated sourdough recipe I've ever attempted - there was a levain involved, a poolish made an appearance, so did wholewheat flour and regular flour ... basically everything that comes to mind when one thinks of bread :-)

The basic recipe was that for baguettes from Chad Robinson's book titled Tartine bread (yeah I'm obsessed). But what turned out looked quite different from the long elegant loaves so loved in France. in my little oven, the longest baguette was barely 11 inches - slightly shorter than a large subway sandwich!

The fact that I got nervous and scored all the loaves timidly didn't help.  The patterns look shamefully ugly.

But what saved these loaves for me was the experience of eating it! At the end of a million steps was a bread with a crackling crust, an open crumb and a light yet distinctive taste of sourdough.

The recipe


I mixed 110 g flour, 110 ml water and 20 g sourdough starter. and left it overnight in the refrigerator. A slightly bubbly batter-like levain was taken out 10 hours later and left on the counter until it fluffed up a bit more. (2 hours)


I blended 100 g of flour with 100 ml water and 1.5 g of dry yeast, and left it to froth up and proof for 4 hours.


I stirred 200 g each of the levain and poolish into 250 ml of warm water. I added 325 g of flour and 175 g of atta flour to the yeasty blend and mixed everything by hand to make sure there was no dry flour left.

40 minutes later, I added 12 g of salt, and did a series of folds and turns until the salt was more or less mixed in.

For the next three hours, I repeated the fold and turn technique every thirty minutes. Towards the end, the dough was puffy.

The dough was cut into 4 sections and each piece was stretched and folded into fourths a couple of times to create tension in the skin. I stretched the resulting 'envelopes' and rolled them gently with my palms to create baguette-like shapes that were around 12 inches long. These were placed on floured cloth, with folds in between to keep the loaves separate.


I preheated the oven to 250 degrees Celsius, with a tray filled with boiling water below the rack where I would place my loaves.

Two of the loaves were scored and placed in a tray (which was also preheated in the oven) and baked. After 15 minutes, the tray with water was removed and the heat turned down to 200 degrees for 15 minutes, for the loaves to turn golden brown.

I repeated the same sequence with the remaining two loaves.