Even if I scratch my head hard, I wont be able to mention many occasions when I saw mom bake in the kitchen. I would say that “baking” was non-existent in her kitchen except for when indian cookies were baked.I grew up being a pressure cooker, tawa (skillet)& kadhai (indian wok) kinda girl.Ovens could never get a better of me I did see small jars of baking powder/soda in the kitchen drawers, some 4-5 years old and still used with lot of confidence when soaking beans or making bhature (flatbread) or naan. Yeast…eh.. maybe I saw..maybe not…I m not sure.
Baking is totally sweet.Its therapeutic and always gives me a high.The same is not true when baking with yeast though. I feel that my fears of working with yeast were mostly because of inexperience. The unknown is always baffling.The acme of perfection that I wanted to achieve when handling yeast, mostly met with frustration of it acting foes. My dough would never rise, my yeast would cling to each other and turn into a lumpy mess. Dont even talk about the amount of food I wasted when I wanted to tame it in my own kitchen.The wastage was followed by days of agony. Whenever I wanted to make yeasted breads , I finished making something else. I could not overcome the thought of cups of flour & eggs making their way into the bin.I saw a recipe for a flaky pastry or loaf in a book, I flipped the page as soon as I read yeast in there. All along my heart felt an overload of running away from the difficult.
Over a period of time, I realized that yeast is not that monstrous as I always guessed it. It needs patience to start with. Half of your battle is won there. The second half is of course practice – lots of it.I am the person who has none of the former but lot of will for the latter. Its like baby steps to learning towards perfecting the fungi. You have to give it attention and love.Even when you knead it, caress it. When it comes to yeast, in my kitchen, my motto is to try simple recipes & make them shine. I dream of baking those perfect looking breads with visible pores and all. I will make it there someday. Right now, my moment of joy is when my mini buns and rolls fluff up in the warm weather I m blessed with these days - so far so good
I mentioned in my previous post that “Masala” is a generic term for anything spicy in Indian cuisine. Well, on similar lines, masala buns are buns with a spicy filling. I first tasted them in one of the bakeries near my college.I dont even remember how many books I have crammed eating these little beauties…oh boy..did I tell you that they give best(est) company to a cup of sweet masala chai. P calls the combo “double masala” …and it sure is. Spicy filling cushioned within doughy wrap along with sips of sweetish spiced up chai - yum!
I have tried to make these spicy savory buns in the healthiest way possible – using durum atta (whole wheat flour) which is the variety of flour rich is wheat bran.You can get it in indian stores and read about it here. I added Kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) & ajwain (carrom) which are super aromatic indian flavorings if you can lay your hands on them, else add some fennel or cumin seeds. By the way, Kasuri methi is something which is the secret behind those aromatic indian butter chicken and other curries- It lasts forever in the kitchen so you might wanna stock up! Fill the buns with anything you want, I filled them with a spicy potato & vegetable filling. These eggless buns are great for breakfast or casual snacking. These buns can be baked in advance & pair up with indian tomato soup to make a lazy day brunch.
Ingredients (Makes 12-14 buns)
For the buns:-
- 1.5 cup durum atta (whole wheat flour)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp ajwain (carrom seeds)
- 1.5 tsp kasuri methi, fine crushed between palms (dry fenugreek leaves)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp olive oil (substitute with melted unsalted butter)
- 1.5 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup luke warm milk
- 1/2 cup luke warm water (or as required for kneading the dough)
- Melted unsalted butter for brushing
- Flour for dusting
For the filling :- (Makes 1.5 cups)
- 2 medium boiled potatoes, slightly mashed (but with little chunks)
- 1/2 cup colored bell peppers of choice, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
- 2 scallions, white & green parts chopped separated
- 1 fat garlic clove, grated
- 3 – 4 Thai green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to tolerance)
- 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- In a bowl, add the flours along with crushed kasuri methi. Sift this flour mix once. Add ajwain (carrom seeds) to the sifted flour and set aside.
- Dissolve sugar in luke warm milk, add yeast and set aside till frothy. Note:-If you don’t see foam within 30 seconds of dissolving the yeast,discard the mix & restart.
- While the yeast is frothing, in a large bowl (enough to hold doubled up dough after rise), tip in the salt.Top it up with sifted flour, olive and foamy yeast paste [ in this order].
- Start mixing in lukewarm water till everything comes together. Note :- Start with 1/4 cup of water to begin with. Once a loose dough ball starts to come together, transfer the dough to a floured surface, and continue kneading for 5-8 minutes till you get a soft, elastic dough.While kneading , if you feel that the dough is on the dry side, add a tablespoon (s)of water, if you feel it sticky, add some flour to bring it together.
- Brush some oil on all sides of the bowl, and once kneaded, transfer the dough back to the bowl.Brush some oil on the top of the dough ball, cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm, dry place for 1-1.5 hours to rise.
- While the Dough is rising, Make the Masala/Spicy Filling :- In a pan, heat up the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped white parts of scallions and saute for 4-5 minutes on high.
- Next, add the garlic along with chopped green chillies.Saute for 30 seconds or till you smell the aroma.
- Next add all the vegetables along with salt to taste, mix well & reduce heat to medium and let cook for 10 minutes, uncovered till the peppers and peas are tender.
- Remove from heat and while still hot, add the chopped green scallion parts, cumin powder, garam masala and lemon juice.Mix well and set aside to cool.