When weekends go by like a blur and the weekdays sneak up on us from their distant blimp-like position to a spot somewhere between the eyes, we look for recipe ideas in the pantry, the belly of the refrigerator, and sometimes, in the snatches of memories from weekdays past, when all we had to do was eat what was put on the table by our Moms before heading out to school. Breads, for us, were not defined by neat little doughy squares toasted to an agreeable crispness and slathered with butter. Breads, rather, were round and packed with all kinds of things that were ordinarily frowned upon, like greens and lentils.
Of course it is hard to say, all these years hence, if it was the dollop of ghee that hissed so softly on top of those breads that lured. But what’s easy is taking these memories, stretching out in front of us like mesmeric, endless skies, as if lending themselves to inspiration..and peppering them with fresh ideas that can turn a round missi roti into a slab of feel-good morning breakfast for our little girls. The geometric variations notwithstanding, there’s a whole sea of nourishment to chew over, between our childhood and theirs.
Whole-wheat bread with lentils
(Makes 1 hearty loaf)
- 1½ Teaspoons active dry yeast
- ½ Cup warm water (use as needed)
- 1 Teaspoon plus 2 Tablespoons oil
- 1 Onion, minced
- 3 Hot chillies, minced
- ½ Cup chopped coriander/cilantro
- 3 Cups coarse-ground whole-wheat flour
- 3 Tablespoon vital wheat gluten
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 1/8 Teaspoon each turmeric and red chilli powder/cayenne
- ¼ Teaspoon each ground coriander and cumin
- 1 Cup leftover cooked black lentils
- 2 Tablespoons sugar or honey
- A few slices of onions for topping
- Dissolve the active dry yeast in ¼ cup of the warm water and set it aside to froth up.
- Lightly stir fry the onion and chillies in 1 teaspoon of the oil. Take off the heat and stir in the coriander/cilantro and cool for a few minutes.
- Combine flour, gluten, salt and spices in a large bowl, and mix well with a sturdy wooden spoon. Stir in the lentils, honey, onions and the soaked yeast with the water. Cover the shaggy mass and allow it to rest for 15 minutes, this will hydrate the flours and give a head start to the kneading.
- Knead for about 10 minutes, adding more water if the dough is dry. While kneading, grab and fold the dough over and then push away with the heel of your hand, turn and repeat. The dough should become smoother and bounce back slightly when prodded. Roll the dough into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let it rise for 1 hour.
- Gently flatten the dough, and fold it over like a letter, one fold overlapping another, fashion it into a loaf shape with a smooth top. Place the log in a well-greased 9” x 5” loaf pan. Cover with greased plastic wrap, and let it rest for about 60-90 minutes in a warm place, or until almost 1″ above the rim of the pan.
- Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Brush the loaf with milk and add some sliced onions on top. Bake the bread for 35 to 40 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190°F/88°C. If the top appears to be browning up too quickly, make a tent-like cover with aluminum foil over the pan for the last 10 minutes of baking.
- Once its done, transfer to a baking rack, and brush the hot loaf with a little butter if desired, for a softer crust. Cool the bread completely before slicing in.
Our Whole-wheat bread with lentils is headed to MLLA #54, an event that was started by Susan – The Well-Seasoned Cook.