It’s nice to be baking bread, because now I feel a bit emboldened to try recipes I’ve had since forever but never bothered making because – well, because I didn’t bake bread. It’s only recently that I’ve ventured into this area of baking, with so far – touch wood! – a reasonable rate of success. Who knows, I might yet get to be a Daring Baker and build whole edifices of cake (although I wouldn’t advise anyone to hold their breath waiting…).
Anyway, last weekend I made up my mind to bake curried vegetable-stuffed buns. And, in a breathtaking bit of daring derring-do (I felt like Errol Flynn at his most swashbuckling, to tell you the truth), I added fresh methi (fenugreek) leaves and omam (ajwain/carom) to the bread dough.
It all worked perfectly.
PS. I’m not going to gush any more than that this time, in case I alienate the few readers I have who expect me to be matter-of-fact, restrained and factual in writing about my recipes and their outcome… do I even have any such readers?
Recipe for: Curried vegetable-stuffed methi buns
Ingredients - For the stuffing:
1 medium potato, boiled, peeled and roughly mashed/crumbled
½ cup finely chopped green beans, cooked
1 cup sliced spinach
¾ cup finely sliced shallots (or onion)
½ tsp sambar powder
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp red chilli powder
¼ tsp asafetida powder (optional)
1 tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
2 tsp oil
Method – the stuffing:
1. Heat the oil in a skillet and add the asafetida, the cumin seeds, turmeric powder and garam masala and fry for 30 seconds.
2. Add the sliced shallots
and fry for 3-4 minutes or till they start turning soft.
3. Then add the spinach leaves and sauté till they wilt.
4. Next, add the mashed potato and mix in,
then the cooked green beans.
5. Sprinkle the sambar powder, chilli powder and salt in to distribute it evenly.
6. Let cool completely. The stuffing should be as dry as possible, so let it cool uncovered, so that condensation does not drip back in.
Ingredients - for the buns:
1 cup methi leaves, washed, dried and chopped, sautéed in ½ tsp oil till wilted, then cooled
3-1/2 cups strong white bread flour
2-1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
½ tsp carom/ajwain/omam seeds (increase to 1 tsp if you really, really love the taste!)
1 cup water
½ cup buttermilk
2 tbsp melted butter
Salt to taste
Method – the buns:
1. Mix 1 cup bread flour, 1 cup water and the yeast in a large bowl so that there are no lumps. Let this stand, covered with plastic wrap, for 1-3 hours in a warm place, till it becomes bubbly.
2. Now stir 2 cups of the remaining flour,
the buttermilk and sautéed methi leaves, melted butter,
ajwain/carom/omam and salt into the starter.
Mix with a wooden spoon till the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
3. Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead, adding the remaining flour a tbsp at a time, if required.
The dough should be springy, smooth and elastic when done (takes 6-8 minutes of kneading by hand).
4. Now grease the bowl lightly with butter or oil, and put the dough in, turning it around once or twice so that it is coated. Cover with plastic wrap and pop back into your warm place. (Mine was again the oven.) Leave it for 1-1/2 hours or so till the dough is doubled in volume.
5. Punch the dough down lightly,
turn it out onto the kneading surface, knead very briefly, and divide into tennis-ball sized rounds. (This makes about 9 large buns.)
Roll each round into a circle of about 5” diameter.
6. Place 2 tbsp of the filling in the centre of the circle,
then fold the circle closed.
Pinch the folds to seal the stuffing in,
then place the ball seam side down and sort of roll it in place to make sure the seams are fully closed.
Underside of filled dough ball after rolling in place to close the seams.
Repeat with remaining balls of dough and filling.
8. Place the filled dough balls on a baking sheet covered with non-stick silicone paper (or lightly grease the sheet if, like me, you’re out of non-stick paper)
and let rise for 20 minutes.
9. Put the tray in a cold oven and turn it on to 200C. (The rolls will rise further as the oven heats to the required temperature.)
Bake the filled rolls for 30 minutes or so, till golden brown on top. If they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, they’re done.
10. Wrap the rolls in a clean tea towel if you like the crust to be soft. If not, let cool on a rack till just warm. Serve the buns as a snack by themselves or with soup.