Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mini-Brötchen with Olive Chutney

Winter this year in frankfurt is relatively mild. And, different. Different in the sense that, it is not snowy and white, as i have witnessed the last three years. It is just cold, gloomy, rainy and windy. Last winter, Frankfurt saw record level snow fall. In December 2010, it snowed in Frankfurt like never in the last year 40 years. It caused complete chaos in the highways, trains ran with unbelievable delays and even the international airport saw a complete still stand. This time, we hardly spot snow fall. I just wonder what's happening. Anyways, there is still more than a month to go, before we could say Winter is over. Let's see!!

Ok. Let's move on to the topic. What I'm going to share this time is a speciality in one of our favorite eat-outs. Pizza Pasta Factory is a chain of restaurants and they specialize in Italian dishes, like the name says. After we order our favorite pasta, we get this lovely combination of Brötchen and Olive Chutney as our starters. I like it so much that I wanted to make it at home for a long time. Last weekend the idea materialized. Believe me it is damn easy and tastes awesome.

Basically, Brot means bread and Brötchen means bun in German. German breads and buns are quite different from those in other places, especially in North America. The Germans like their buns to be a little hard with crisp crusts. During my initial days here, I used to wonder why are breads and buns so very hard here and it is a pain to just chew them. I was used to only the soft "Modern Bread", "Milka Bread" and the milk buns and coconut buns, back in India. Here, white breads are not common, if not rare. Crisp crusts are seen as a sign of good quality bread/buns. I got slowly used to these and I'm just loving them now.

These little buns or Mini-Brötchen are such crusty buns made out of the basic pizza dough. Well, we just have to prepare pizza dough and roll some of it into small berry sized balls and bake it. The rest of the dough can, of course, be reserved for our favorite pizza. I'm providing the recipe anyways, just in case, you haven't prepared pizza dough on your own.

Mini Brötchen:

Recipe Source: Adapted from Jamie Oliver's Pizza Dough
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Setting Time: 1 hr
Baking Time: 30 mins
Makes: around 30 pieces

All purpose flour - 400g
Dried Yeast - 1 packet
Brown Sugar - 1 Tbsp
Extra Virgin Olive oil - 2 Tbsp
Sea salt - 1 tsp
Lukewarm water - 300 ml

Sift the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add yeast, brown sugar and olive oil to the luke warm water and leave for about 5 minutes. When the water becomes frothy, start adding it little by little to the flour and mix well. Knead well with floured hands for about 5-10 mins until the dough becomes soft and springy.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Cover with a wet clean cloth. Set this in a warm place for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to about 180C. Now, take the dough in a well-floured clean surface. Punch the air back and knead a little. Start taking berry sized balls out of the dough. Roll them a little and arrange the cute balls in regular intervals on a baking sheet placed on a baking tray. Bake them for about 25-30 mins or until the upper crust turns golden brown.

Olive Chutney:

This one is absolutely easy to prepare and tastes awesome with any type of bread.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Makes: 1 1/2 cup chutney

Olives - 300 g, pitted
Red Chili - 1, like the one shown in picture, chopped
Garlic - 3 small pods, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Olive oil - as needed


Blend everything except oil in a blender until coarse. Store in refrigerator until serving time. Just before serving, drizzle enough olive oil as needed for the consistency you like. This goes well with any bread.

We loved the combo very much. This is so simple, yet it would be a show stealer when inviting guests or in a party. Hope you enjoy them as well as we did.

Sending this as an entry to Zesty Palette's New U and Girlichef's Bake Your Own Bread. Also sending to Taste of Pearl City's Anyone can Cook: Series 40 and to Now Serving's Dip In - Chutney Chow Down.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mirchi Ka Salan

A new start into the new year. New hopes. New responsibilities. New wishes. New resolutions. Wishing everybody a wonderful year ahead. So, I'm back with a new post into the year. The times are tough again with a packed schedule at work and no internet at home. Yes, absence of internet has become a real handicap. Since more than two weeks there is no internet and phone connection at home and we have realized the hard way how dependent we have become on this. It is really difficult, at least not impossible, to get things done without being connected on the net.

Fine, at last we got ourselves a surf stick, instead of waiting for the new contract to reach us. So, this explains my delay in posting for the Blog Hop event this time. Nevertheless, I do not want to miss the fun and here is my entry from Veena's blog Veena's Veg Junction. Veena has a lovely collection of vegetarian recipes and the moment I saw this curry, I was excited to try it.

Capsicum or Bell Pepper is a good vegetable which has always taken a back seat in our hearth. My husband is not a big fan of capsicum and even I ignored it. Recently I saw in the television about the nutritional benefits of capsicum. It is rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants. Mirchi ka Salan was "the apt curry" to put the bell peppers to good use, at the same time, suitable to Indian taste buds.

The original recipe can be found here. I almost followed her recipe, but for a few changes. I did not have sesame at hand. But, instead I added some pepper corns which added to the pep of the curry. Here is my version of the preparation.

Preparation time: 40 mins
Serves: 4

Coloured bell peppers - 1 red, 1 green and 1 yellow
Ground nuts - 3 Tbs
Pepper corns - 1 Tbs
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Onion - 1
Tomato puree - 1/2 cup
Coconut - 5 Tbs, grated
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Garlic - 2 cloves
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
Nigella seeds - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 2 tsp
Turmeric - a pinch
Tamarind - marble sized
Salt - to taste
Oil - as required

Heat a little oil in a pan and roast the ground nuts, pepper corns and cumin seeds for about 5 minutes. Cool and grind the mixture and keep aside.

Slice the bell peppers into thin strips. In the same pan, add a little oil and shallow fry them for about 5 minutes. Keep aside.

Slice the onions. In a blender/mixer, take the onions, grated coconut, ginger and garlic and blend well.  Soak the tamarind in hot water and set aside.

Now, for the cooking, heat a little oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and when they crackle, add the fenugreek and nigella seeds. Now add the blended onion paste along with tomato puree. Fry till the raw smell fades off. Now, add the dry ground nut mixture and cook for a few minutes.

Add on the dry spices and salt. Let this cook well with required amount of water. Now, comes in the tamarind juice and fried bell peppers. Let the gravy cook for a few more minutes and turn off the heat when done.

The curry goes well with rotis and chapatis. We had it with hot steaming rice. You know what? My husband who first twisted his face on hearing that I'm gonna try this curry, actually wiped off the plate. He said, the curry tasted really very well. The combination of coconut, ground nuts and peppers were absolutely wonderful. Since I didn't have sesame seeds as mentioned in the original recipe, I used sesame oil for cooking instead. It gave a nice aroma to the dish. The spicy and tangy curry was a delight. I'm definitely gonna prepare this more often in the future. Thanks to Veena :)

Sending this post to Blog Hop Wednesdays Version 2.0 - Week 13, an event hosted by Radhika of Tickling Palates.