Saturday, November 27, 2010

Garlic and Rosemary Foccacia

Recipe source: Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen.

1 C Water
3 C All purpose Flour
1.5 tsp active dry yeast
1 T salt
2 T dried rosemary
3 small cloves finely minced garlic
3 T olive oil
3 T parsley

Warm the water slightly and add the yeast. Let sit for 10 min until foamy. Add the salt and olive oil. Next add the flour, in batches, stirring well to incorporate. Add the dried rosemary and knead well. Place in a well oiled bowl, and smear the surface of the dough with oil. Cover loosely and keep in a warm place, until doubled in size. It took about an hour and a half in my kitchen. You can even leave it in the oven with the pilot light on, in winter.

Once doubled in size, punch the dough to release all the air built up due to the yeast, and transfer on to a floured surface. Allow the dough to rest for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 1 T olive oil in a saute pan and add the minced garlic. Maintain a low heat, and allow the garlic to brown very slightly. Be careful since the garlic can burn very easily. Knead the dough for about two minutes and transfer onto a greased sheet pan, 13 x 9 inches size. Poke the dough in several places, without tearing into it. The holes will be depressions on the surface of the dough, giving it a dimpled appearance. Brush the top of the dough evenly with the garlic olive oil mixture. Sprinkle coarse salt on the surface of the dough, if desired.  Sprinkle with parsley. Bake at 400 F for 20 - 30 minutes, until browned slightly.

The foccacia was quite good, but dry. The dough may need to be kneaded a little more, or need a little more moisture. Also, I left it in the oven for a little too long, so I should take it out sooner the next time. I will experiment with Olives, sun-dried tomatoes and onions the next time.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thattai for Deepavali

Among all the festivals celebrated in India, Deepavali - the festival of lights is more of a social event rather than a ritualistic tradition. Friends and families exchange sweets and snacks and greet each other on Deepavali day, making this a cherished occasion. While there are sweet shops aplenty, selling boxed sweets and snacks, packaged conveniently for gifting, homemade comestibles add that special personal touch to any gift.

Anyway, this year for Deepavali, I decided to make Thattais at home. Thattai(Tamil) literally translates to "flat". These are savory flat discs that are deep fried and have a tremendous crunch. They are a really tasty afternoon snack! R is particularly fond of them, and among all the traditional savories prepared for Deepavali, Thattai is one that does not require great mastery and skill (like Kai Murukku), or a mechanical press(like Ribbon Pakoda, Thenkuzhal etc). So, this was the perfect project for me to embark on.

2 C Rice Flour
1/4 C Urad Dhal (roasted and powdered finely)
1/4 C Chana Dhal(or Moong Dhal), soaked in hot water for 15-20 minutes
2 T Butter, melted
1 T Curry leaves, torn
1/4 t Asafoetida
Salt, Chilli Powder and(or) ground black pepper (to taste)

I used freshly made rice flour by grinding rice. The finer the grind, the better. Roast the Urad Dhal and powder finely after cooling. Combine all the ingredients into a dough, adding as little water as possible, until the dough can be pinched off into balls without crumbling.

Pinch off lemon sized balls of the dough and flatten into thin discs and place on greased waxed paper or a cotton cloth(preferred). Perforate each Thattai with a fork 2 or 3 times, to allow even cooking in the center and prevent puffing. Allow to dry for at least 10 minutes. If the discs crack, add a little more water to the dough to bind better.

Fry in hot oil. The Thattais will sink on dropping into the oil, but will rise up after cooking. Flip and cook on both sides. Drain on paper towels and store in an air-tight container after cooling.