Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Olive Oil-Kissed Walnut Garlic and Dill Povitica (Vegan)....jazzed-up !!

"[Breadbaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells...there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel, that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread."
M. F. K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

I admit I have been lazy. While I have been in the kitchen all the time experimenting, peeking into my friends' and commenting on various other blogs....however I stayed away from posting any recipe on Zaayeka. I blame it on the season...the lovely glassy droplets on my balcony makes me just so whimsical with its pitter-patter; that I just can't tear myself away from them. The lush greenery on the hills (that I see from my window) just perks up when the clouds kiss the earth. Romanticism.....s-i-g-h! :p

Ok I know this is essentially a food blog so I will stick to that without further ado--FOOD!

I made this savoury Povitica, a while ago. I post it only today as the varied types of breads I have been baking is increasing in number and threatens to overtake every other recipes' place on the index, (its been over a month and a half that I have not used store-bought bread, instead making my healthy versions at home) and I do not want my friends/readers to miss out on the magic of breadbaking. Trust me if someone as 'yeast-phobic' as me can make it...sure anyone can!

I am not an authority on bread baking...but I certainly can tell you all about what and how I bake my own bread. I have certainly come a long way from where I started.
And no I ain't talking about quick breads and no-knead breads...I am talking hard-core kneading and rising and rolling and proofing and baking ....et al. All the different colours of the 'rainbow' that is bread-baking.

Traditionally Povitica is a Croatian rolled sweet yeast bread. Essentially a feast bread, it is rolled thin, smeared with the choice of filling (cinnamon sugar, walnuts etc) and then rolled like a jelly roll and baked. The end result is a beautiful swirled slice that the filling creates when the rolled bread is cut.

I made mine a tad bit more ...ahem...gorgeous! (Don't go by my word...look at the pictures.)

The lovely spirals filled with my favourite nut and herbs.

This bread is a little tricky when it comes to putting it together but not impossibly difficult!
Once the dough is rolled out, smeared with filling and cut into strips; the tricky part begins.
Remember not to rush through this process of 'coiling' the strips. Take your time rotating the spring form pan so you can easily start the next strip of dough where the last one left off and gently pressing strips onto the ones that came before it.
Any loose nuts will fall down, so do not worry. Just be gentle. :)

Oh did I forget to mention its vegan !!

Olive Oil-Kissed Walnut Garlic and Dill spiral Povitica (Vegan) :


For the dough:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour + extra for dusting
1/2 tsp sea-salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups luke-warm water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp margarine

For the filling:
3 tbsp or more garlic paste
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for brushing


In a large bowl,combine the warm water, yeast, sugar and salt and let it rest at room temperature for 5 minutes. Add the olive oil.

To the flours add the margarine and dill. Stir with a wooden spoon or use your fingers to mix,till the margarine is well combined with the flour.
Now add the liquid ingredients. Stir with wooden spoon.
When the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl dust with flour and turn out onto a lightly-floured surface to knead by hand. Knead by hand for 10 minutes, dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Allow the dough to rest for 10-15 minutes in a greased bowl.

Roll the dough out to an 18×10 inch (moderately thin in thickness) rectangle. Brush the garlic paste all over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle with the chopped walnuts on top.
IMPORTANT-Press the nut filling into the dough by lightly rolling over it with a rolling pin, to allow minimal spillage.

Cut the dough lengthwise into 2-inch-wide strips. Take one strip and roll it around itself before placing it in the center of your springform pan, cut side down. Now, one at a time, wrap the remaining strips around the center strip, until you have a mass of shaped dough that looks like a concentric shell . Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot for 40 minutes or until doubled in bulk (see pic above).

Brush with olive oil and bake in a pre-heated oven for upto 30 minutes at 190 degrees C.

If the middle of the povitica browns faster than the outer portions of the dough, cut a small square of aluminum foil and place it over the part of the cake that is browning faster.

Cool for 5 minutes before running a greased knife around the edges and removing the sides of the springform pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Dahi Aloo (Baby Potatoes in a Tangy Creamy Curd Gravy)....comforting ain't it !!

"Comfort food is absolutely moving upscale."
~ Danny Meyer

The world has seen a lot in the last few months. Failed banks, frozen lending, bankruptcies...a stock market like a weary phoenix, rising from its ashes then plummeting again. In turbulent times like these, don't we all need a little comfort food?!

Comfort food, as it turns out, is a global phenomenon. A case in point-- When I am asked what is the one thing that I would want to eat to make me feel really comfortable and soothe my ruffled seams; without batting an eyelid I say Kadhi-Chawal ( Mildly spiced creamy chickpea-flour based curd gravy tempered with mustard and curry leaves, accompanied by plain steamed rice).

**For a variation of the 'kadhi' see this.

And what makes it comfort food?
It's our soul food and I think these are the kinds of food you hanker for. Something that you've had as a child, as a baby. Something that goes down easily. Something that will always be true.

We all have memories of a very special dish that we ate when we were kids. Every time we eat it we feel safe and warm. We are back home. Actually, we don't even have to eat it - just smelling it triggers happy feelings. It then, not just remains food-- it's the taste, the smells, the memories of home!

Studies suggest that comfort food applies the brakes on a key element of chronic stress.

Stress or no stress, at some point in our lives we all crave comfort food. Each kitchen has its own story to tell and its own set of comfort foods. Be it the country side or the huge mansions, the city or the hamlets....all have their fair share of foods/Sunday meals that bind a family together.

I remember how after a really l-o-n-g time when I was returning home from Florida, I called up mom from the New York airport only to request her to prepare my favourite kadhi-chawal, and nothing else but that. It wasn't that I had any issues with food in U.S. Infact it was only here, that I first did try Thai and Mexican. The best pizzas were at my office cafeteria...forget Dominos' or Pizzahut! Mac n cheese ...aah!

Applebees' and Red Lobster are still my reigning favourites when it comes to fun-food. Ybor street dotted with its varied cusine houses, lured me to try the Middle-east and Lebanese dishes too. Yes, I was in a cultural melting pot but oh! how I missed home food. (By home food I don't mean the stuff that Indian restuarants' in foreign land, dish out claiming to be Indian.)

However something is amiss at times....and you CRAVE it badly! Thats' soul food...a.k.a. comfort food...mom's cooking!

The dish I talk about here is only second to my all time favourite Indian Comfort Foods.

Its Dahi Aloo. Dahi= curd, Aloo= potatoes, in Hindi.

Dahi Aloo (Baby Potatoes in a Tangy Creamy Curd Gravy):


250 gms baby potatoes,boiled and chopped in halves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2-3 curry leaves
1 whole dried red chilli
1/2 tsp aesofoetida
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp ground coriander seeds/coriander powder
1 cup curd, beaten
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 cup water or less (depending on the consistency of the gravy)
salt to taste


In a wok, heat oil. Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Once they splutter, add the whole red chilli and ginger-garlic paste. Add the boiled potatoes. Mix carefully.

Now add the turmeric powder, coriander powder and aesofoetida. Stir. Take care not to break the already soft potatoes.

Add the beaten curd and mix thorougly. Finally add water and stir. Season.

Cover and simmer for a minute, on medium flame.

Serve hot with steamed rice or parathas/chapatis.