Country bread

Country bread

This rustic country loaf is healthy, tasty and easy to make. The mix of bread flour and whole wheat flour makes this a bread for all occasions. It goes well with soups and also makes great sandwiches.


Bread flour 3 cups

Whole wheat flour 1 1/3 cup

Olive oil 1/3 cup plus for greasing

Italian herbs 2 tbsps

Yeast 3 tsp

Salt 1 tsp

Sugar 2 tbsps


Mix all the ingredients and make a dough in the bread machine or stand mixer.

Roll the dough on to a floured surface and knead for about five minutes.

Shape into a ball and let rest covered in a greased bowl for two hours. I leave it overnight in winter.

Punch down the dough and give it a second rising.

Keep a tray of water in the oven and bake in a 210 degree C convection oven for 40 minutes. Spritz with water a few times during the first 15 minutes.

Cool on a rack, slice and serve.

Book Review: More Bread Machine Bounty

Book Review: More Bread Machine Bounty

Gayle Shockey Hockster; Better Homes and Gardens; Des Moines, 1994

I picked up this book when I was a novice with the bread maker and it soon became my go-to volume. I loved the recipes, which are easy to follow, and the tips given by the side or at the bottom are invaluable, especially if you are just starting to bake your own bread.

Baking bread has been something that we seem to have adopted en masse as we cope with the pandemic. Stores have been running out of bread flour and yeast, but people are continuing to bake. I agree that there is something magical about bread, watching the loaf rise and then bake to golden perfection.

Maybe it is an attempt by man to gain some control in a world that is spiralling out of control. That warm loaf of bread not only smells wholesome and delicious, it is life giving. Bread was what Christ broke with his disciples. Bread is essential to every culture in the world, to human being’s very survival.

One of the most popular breads that people around the world have been making during the current Covid-19 pandemic is sourdough bread. One reason could be that once you make the sourdough starter, the recipe for which is given in the book, you can continue to replenish it without adding more yeast. So even if yeast disappears from the store shelves, you can continue to bake your bread.

This book has a whole section devoted to sourdough breads.

I have tried many of these breads and each one has turned out perfect.

My favourite is the sourdough cheese bread, which is a fail-safe recipe. I make it pretty often as it goes so well with soups and stews and also makes a great sandwich.

Brazilian Corn Bread

Brazilian Corn Bread

I love corn bread and this one has a rustic flavour with a hint of sweetness from the corn. It goes well with stew, cold cuts, chilli cooked in a slow cooker, or beans.


Corn meal or makki ka atta 1 1/2 cup
All-purpose flour 3 cups
Yeast 3 tsps
Milk 1/2 litre
Butter 30 g
Rice flour 2 tbsps
Sugar 2 tbsps + 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Olive oil 2 tbsps


Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water and 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Heat the milk and add the butter to it. As the milk begins to bubble, reduce the heat and whisk in the cornmeal. Let it cool to room temperature.

Mix the flour, sugar and salt. Add the yeast mixture and the cornmeal mixture. Make a dough.

Transfer the dough to a bowl greased with olive oil and cover with cling film. Leave it to rise for two hours.

Divide the dough into two boules. Dust with rice flour and criss-cross the top with a knife. Spritz with water.

Pour boiling water into a tray and place in the oven. Bake the bread in the middle rack for 35-40 minutes.

Slice when cool.

Lauki Chana Dal (Bottle gourd with Bengal gram)

Lauki Chana Dal (Bottle gourd with Bengal gram)

I was not a big fan of the bottle gourd or any member of the squash family. Till I got a bumper crop from the garden and the fresh bottle gourd with firm fleshy white meat and no seeds or very tender seeds turned me into a fan. The only dish I would make from bottle gourd or lauki was kofta curry. Then I tried my hand at this humble dal and surprised myself at how tasty it turned out. Using chana dal (split Bengal gram) gives the dish a lovely creamy texture.

Creamy and wholesome


(Serves 4 persons)

Bottle gourd or lauki 1 1/2 cups, peeled and cubed
Chana dal 1/4 cup
Onion 1, chopped
Tomato 1 large, chopped
Mustard seeds 1 tsp
Garlic 4 cloves, chopped
Red chilli powder 1 tsp
Coriander powder 1 tsp
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves a few sprigs, chopped
Mint a few leaves


Soak the chana dal in water for 30 minutes. Drain.

Add oil to the pressure cooker and sputter the mustard seeds. Add the onions and fry till they turn translucent. Add the garlic and fry for a few seconds. Add the tomatoes and fry till they soften. Add the spices. Saute for 1 minute.

Add the chana dal and the cubed lauki. Add salt and mix well. Fry for two minutes. Add enough water to cover the dal. Close the lid and let it cook on high flame for one whistle and on low flame for four whistles. Switch off the heat and let the pressure cooker cool.

Take the lid off and check the gravy. If needed, heat it till the gravy thickens.

Garnish with coriander leaves and mint and serve hot with rice or bread.

Ada, health meets taste

Ada, health meets taste

This is comfort food, especially in winter. The aroma of the pancake cooking on a hot griddle will set your taste buds working overtime. This is a healthy option for breakfast, packed with proteins from all the variety of lentils that go into the batter.

Comfort food


(Serves 6 persons)

Idli rice 1/4 cup
Urad dal 1/4 cup
Moong dal 1/4 cup
Arhar dal 1/4 cup
Chana dal 1/4 cup
Masoor dal 1/4 cup
Whole red chillies 4
Til oil
Onions 2 medium, sliced
Green chillies 2
Ginger 1” piece
Curry leaves 4 sprigs
Asafoetida powder 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste


Mix the first seven ingredients in a bowl, add water and soak overnight.

In the morning, drain and wash the the soaked rice and lentils.

Grind it along with the onions, green chillies, ginger and curry leaves.

Add the asafoetida and salt and mix well.

Heat a griddle and apply oil. Pour a ladleful of batter and spread it like a pancake. Flip it over after 30 seconds.

Use all the batter to make similar pancakes.

Serve with idli chutney powder, onion chutney or pickle.

Whole wheat cake (atta cake)

Whole wheat cake (atta cake)

I always use all-purpose flour for my cakes. Today, I experimented with whole wheat flour. In fact, I decided to go for the healthy version without eggs or butter. I used light vegetable oil and plain yoghurt instead. It turned out really delicious with a nice, chewy texture.

Healthy option


Whole wheat flour (atta) 2 cups
Sugar 3/4 cup
Sundrop vegetable oil 1/2 cup
Yoghurt 1 cup
Baking powder 1 tbsp
Baking soda 1 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon powder 2 tbsps
Vanilla essence 1 tsp
Water as needed
Milk 3 tbsps
Walnuts, roughly chopped 1/2 cup
Raisins 1/2 cup

For the syrup:
Cadbury’s Bournvita 2 tbsps dissolved in 1/4 cup water
Cadbury’s cocoa 1 tbsp

Icing sugar 1 tbsp


Mix the wheat flour, sugar, cinnamon powder, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl

Using a stand mixer, add the oil and yogurt to the pan and mix at Speed 1. Add the flour mix, a little at a time. Add water as needed to maintain the consistency of the batter.

Add the milk and vanilla essence. Add the walnuts and raisins.

Use a stand mixer at Speed 1

Grease a 9”x6” rectangular cake dish and pour in the batter.

Bake in a 170 degree C oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Test after 50 minutes and when the skewer comes out clean, take the cake out of the oven. Let it cool.

Heat the Bournvita syrup in a nonstick pan and when it boils, add the cocoa. Heat on a low flame for 20 minutes, stirring continuously. Take it off the heat and let it cool.

Before serving, pour the syrup over the cake. Sprinkle icing sugar over the top.

Cut it into 12 slices.

Cheese bread

Cheese bread

This bread is easy to make. I make this in the bread maker, which means it is super easy. I usually put in everything after breakfast, wait for the proving to be over, add the cheese topping, and the bread is ready for lunch.

Full of cheesy flavour


(Serves 4 persons)

Milk 1 1/8 cups
Bread flour 3 cups
Butter, salted 4 tbsps
Mozzarella cheese 1/2 cup, grated
Cheddar cheese 1/2 cup grated
Brown sugar 1 tbsp
Oregano, dried 2 tbsps
Salt 1 tsp
Yeast 2 tbsps
Cheddar cheese for topping 1/4 cup


Heat the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. It should be lukewarm.

Pour it into the bread-maker pan and add everything else in the order given above, except for the cheese for the topping.

After the final kneading cycle and before the baking starts, add the cheese topping.

Let the bread cool before slicing it. Enjoy with clotted cream mixed with dill and bacon bits.

Banana, zucchini, walnut bread

Banana, zucchini, walnut bread

I had asked my vegetable vendor to bring me zucchini, but by the time he brought it, I forgot what I had wanted to make in the first place. I had some overripe bananas, so I decided to try adding zucchini to my usual banana bread. It turned out delicious.

A healthy breakfast option


(Serves 4-5 persons)

All purpose flour 1 1/2 cups
Bananas 2, mashed
Zucchini 1 cup, grated
Sugar 3/4 cup
Baking powder 1 tsp
Baking soda 1/2 tsp
Eggs 2, beaten
Walnuts 1/2 cup, roughly crushed
Vegetable oil 1/2 cup


Preheat the oven at 350 degree F or 180 degree C.

In a bowl mix the dry ingredients — flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar. In another bowl mix well the eggs, bananas and oil. Add to the dry ingredients and add the zucchini too. Mix using a folding motion. Do not over-mix. Add the walnuts.

Grease a loaf pan and pour in the batter. Tap it on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake for 60 minutes. Check after 50 minutes using a toothpick in the centre of the loaf. If the toothpick comes out clean, take out the pan. Let the bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then let it cool on a rack. Slice it only after it is completely cool.

Gooey and moist inside, crisp outside
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