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Flat Breads

Here are our recipes for Chapatis (tortillas) . Focaccia . Naan . Pita

Flatbreads are baked on the same day that they are mixed and in the summertime, yeasted dough takes no time to rise and freshly made bread can be ready in a matter of a couple of hours. Any of these flatbreads work well with Middle Eastern Bean dishes (eg: fuhl).

Gourmet Sleuth: Conversion & Ingredient Tables . Traditional Oven: Conversion of measures of ingredients calculator
metric weight equivalents for flour and water . Bread Making Notes


Pita

pita (photo tph Jan2006) I first made pita after reading about Farmgirl's adventures in pita making. We have made them on the barbecue and in our conventional electric oven. Instructions for both methods follow. (Click on the image to see more photos about making pita.)

Pita dough can also be shaped in thickish rounds, baked (use the barbecue!) and used in place of hamburger buns.

Ingredients for 8 pitas

Preparation

  1. Put yeast into a small bowl. Add lukewarm water (test on your wrist to make sure it isn’t too hot) and stir till the mixture is creamy.
  2. Put oil, honey and the rest of the water into a largish bowl. Add both flours and the yeasted water. Stir with a wooden spoon until a rough dough is formed.
  3. Cover the bowl and let it sit for about 20 minutes.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly flour board. Sprinkle salt overtop. Knead for about 10 minutes til the dough is smooth, silky and springy.
  5. Put into a clean bowl (there is no need to oil the bowl) that is large enough for the dough to triple. Cover and let rise on the counter (draught free) til the dough has doubled.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Divide it into 8 pieces. Make 8 balls. Lightly flour and cover with a damp tea towel and let sit for about half an hour. (or don't bother waiting and just go ahead and roll them out right away.)
  7. If you are using the oven to bake the pita: 30 minutes before baking the bread, put baking stone on the middle to lowest rack of the oven. Turn the oven to 500F.
  8. Using a wooden rolling pin, roll each ball into a flat disc - about 6 inches in diameter and inches thick. Make sure the finished discs are lightly floured before stacking them.
  9. If you are using the barbecue: Preheat the barbecue to high. Place each disc directly on the grill. Close the lid of the barbecue. Cook for about 2 minutes or so on one side. Using tongs, turn over when they have puffed. Continue to cook on the other side til they seem done. (complete baking takes about 5 minutes) Put the finished pitas into a basket.

    If you are using the oven: Place the discs directly on the hot stone. Bake the bread at 500F for about 5 minutes or until it is lightly golden and puffed. (It really does take only 5 minutes.) You might want to turn the bread over half way through cooking but it isn't really necessary.

Pita can also be pita cooking on stovetop (photo ejm Feb2006)cooked on the stovetop. (Click on image to see more photos of making pita.)

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Gourmet Sleuth: Conversion & Ingredient Tables . Traditional Oven: Conversion of measures of ingredients calculator
metric weight equivalents for flour and water . Bread Making Notes


Flat Breads:
Chapatis (faux tortillas) . Focaccia . Naan . Paratha . Pita . Tortillas

Indian Dishes:
Bengali Fish Curry . Biriyani . Butter Chicken . Curry . Cashew Chicken . Chili Chicken . Chicken and Lentils . Jaggery Chicken . Tandoori Chicken . Green Chili Omelette . Moringa Leaf Omelette . Hard Boiled Eggs with Chilli Paste . Aloo Gobi (cauliflower) . Aloo Methi (fenugreek greens) aka Aloo Saag . Aloo Posta (white poppyseed) with Green Beans . Aloo muttar . Bindi (okra) . Cabbage with ginger . Chole (chickpeas curry) . Grilled Corn . Pakora . Palak Paneer (spinach) . Raita . Curry Powder . Garam Masala . Chapatis/Rotis . Naan . Paratha . Samosas . Srikund (dessert) . Lassi . "Special" Chai

Chapatis (rotis; tortillas-ish)

After struggling for months trying to make these, I now understand why all the recipes I looked at seemed to be so vague. Here is how we have finally managed to make pretty good rotis, using an electric stove and North American flour. I apologize in advance for any vagueness and urge you to keep trying even if your rotis don't turn out perfectly the first (second, third, fourth...) time(s). As Shehzad Husain says in Entertaining Indian Style:

"Do not get disheartened [...] you will improve with practice."


makes 8 rotis

Equipment

We went to our local India town to get the tava and wire rack. They are not very expensive items. You can probably use a flat heavy griddle in place of the tava.

Ingredients

Preparation

  1. In a bowl, mix flours and salt. Add warm water gradually, stirring with a fork until you have a soft dough. The amount of water will vary drastically depending on air temperature and humidity. You just have to play with it. I think (but am not certain) that the softer the dough, the softer the finished rotis will be.
  2. Using as little extra flour as possible, knead on a board for 8 minutes until the dough is soft and silky.
  3. Place dough back in the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic and let sit on the counter for 30 minutes to one hour.
  4. Put the tava on medium heat. Do not oil it. Put the wirerack on another burner at the highest heat possible.
  5. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. Lightly flour each one and put 7 pieces back in the bowl. Cover the bowl. Form the piece of dough into a ball and flatten it. Roll it out into a round til it is quite thin but not too thin (this is again is one of those infuriating things where you will just have to practice to find out what thinness works best for you) - about 1 mm?? As you roll out the dough, make sure it is not sticking to the board and that there are no holes. Keep the rolling pin lightly dusted with as little flour as possible and the board the same way.
  6. Place the round of dough on the hot tava (griddle). As soon as you see little bubbles form, turn it over using tongs. As soon as there are little bubbles on the reverse side, lift the bread off the tava with the tongs and place it on the wire rack. It should puff up. Turn it over once or twice to ensure that it puffs up completely. Don't be worried to see a few dark brown spots on it. (If you are lucky enough to have a gas stove, you can hold the bread directly over the flame.)
  7. Put the finished bread on a serviette covered warm plate. Cover with a lid. Keep the plate in a warm oven. Roll out the next piece of dough and repeat til you have 8 rotis. Turn the finished rotis over as you put a new roti on the stack.

We love to have this bread with green chili omelettes or Palak Paneer (spinach and cheese). You can also use it in place of tortillas in Mexican Pie.

Flat Breads:
Chapatis (faux tortillas) . Focaccia . Naan . Paratha . Pita . Tortillas

Beans and Pulses:
Baked Beans . Black Bean Stew . Borlotti (Cranberry Beans) Pasta Sauce . Cassoulet . Chicken and Lentils . Chili con Carne . Chole . Dahl . Falafel . Fuhl . Fuhl revisited . Haricots Blancs . Hummus . Lablabi . Mexican Pie . Mexican Pot Beans . Mjdarra (lentils) . Mjdarra revisited . Puy Lentils . Refried Beans . Refried Beans Casserole . Vegetarian Burgers

For Corn Rotis (tortillas -ish)

In place of the whole wheat flour, use finely ground corn meal.

Hop up to roti ingredients list

This is not exactly like a recipe for tortillas but it is a reasonable facsimile for corn tortillas. Corn tortillas use only corn flour (masa harina) and have no wheat flour at all. They are quite different from flour tortillas. While this version of corn tortilla is NOT really correct, it amounts to the same thing in our unsophisticated minds.

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Actual Corn Tortilla recipe
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Gourmet Sleuth: Conversion & Ingredient Tables . Traditional Oven: Conversion of measures of ingredients calculator
metric weight equivalents for flour and water . Bread Making Notes


Flat Breads:
Chapatis (faux tortillas) . Focaccia . Naan . Paratha . Pita . Tortillas

Indian Dishes:
Bengali Fish Curry . Biriyani . Butter Chicken . Curry . Cashew Chicken . Chili Chicken . Chicken and Lentils . Jaggery Chicken . Tandoori Chicken . Green Chili Omelette . Moringa Leaf Omelette . Hard Boiled Eggs with Chilli Paste . Aloo Gobi (cauliflower) . Aloo Methi (fenugreek greens) aka Aloo Saag . Aloo Posta (white poppyseed) with Green Beans . Aloo muttar . Bindi (okra) . Cabbage with ginger . Chole (chickpeas curry) . Grilled Corn . Pakora . Palak Paneer (spinach) . Raita . Curry Powder . Garam Masala . Chapatis/Rotis . Naan . Paratha . Samosas . Srikund (dessert) . Lassi . "Special" Chai

Naan

revised 3 January 2003, 25 September 2003, 12 October 2008

serves 2 hogs (makes 6 naan)

naan (photo ejm Mar2008)

Ingredients

Preparation

  1. In a small bowl, add the yeast and some of the sugar to lukewarm (do the baby's bottle test on your wrist). Whisk together until creamy. Set aside.
  2. Cut the butter into pieces in a bowl large enough for the dough to triple (I use a large casserole dish). Add boiling water and stir til the butter is melted.
  3. Add the yoghurt, salt, and rest of the sugar to the butter water. Using a wooden spoon, stir in whole wheat flour and all but ½ c allpurpose flour. Doublecheck that the dough is no warmer than baby bottle temperature, then add the yeast mixture to the large bowl. Stir just enough to mix it together. Cover (plate, lid, plastic wrap) and leave on counter for about 20 minutes (or not).
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board (use some of the leftover ½ c flour). Let the dough rest as you wash and dry your mixing bowl. This prepares the rising bowl AND gets your hands clean.
  5. Kneading: Knead the dough 5 to 10 minutes, adding small amounts of what's left of the Ĺ c flour to the board if dough seems sticky. (You don't have to use up all the flour.) When the dough is smooth and silky to the touch, it has been kneaded enough.
  6. Proofing: Put the dough into the clean dry bowl that holds three times the volume of the dough. Cover the bowl and allow to rise in a non-drafty area at room temperature (or in the cold oven with only the light turned on) until the dough has doubled. This might take anywhere from an hour to four hours - the cooler the area, the longer it will take. Plan ahead. It's BETTER when it takes longer to rise. A good way to tell if the dough has doubled is to wet your finger and poke a hole in the top of the dough. If the hole fills up, it hasnít risen enough. If there is a whoosh of air and the dough deflates a little, it has risen too much. If the hole stays in exactly the same configuration and the dough remains otherwise intact, it is ju-u-st right.
  7. 30 minutes before baking the bread, put baking stone on the middle rack of the oven. Turn the oven to 500F.
  8. Shaping: 5 minutes before baking, when the dough has doubled in volume, gently turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into six equal pieces and shape each into a round. Use your fingertips (or a floured rolling pin) to flatten the rounds. Stretch them so they become thin flat ovals or rounded triangles, approximately 4 inches wide by 8 inches long. Totton says that naan are ideally teardrop shaped. (But it doesn't really matter.)
  9. Fill a small bowl with COLD water and put it near the board.
  10. Baking: Dip your fingers in COLD water and place the shaped bread directly on the stone in the oven. Bake the bread at 500F for 5 minutes or until it is lightly golden and puffed. (It really does take only 5 minutes.) You might want to turn the bread over half way through cooking but it isn't really necessary. (Use tongs!)
  11. When the bread is done, put it on a warm plate and drizzle a little melted butter over top, if you want. (We don't bother with this step if we're serving naan with a particularly rich curry.) Serve immediately with Indian curry and/or Palak Paneer (spinach)

Notes: In the summer, I mix the dough around 2 or 3 PM and it has risen by about 6PM. In winter (our kitchen is ridiculously cold), I mix the dough in the morning and it's ready to shape by evening. I haven't tested this but I can't see why you couldn't mix and knead the dough in the late evening and stick it in the fridge overnight to rise so you could bake it in the morning to have with green chili omelettes. If you try this, leave it out on the counter for at least 30 minutes before putting it in the fridge and then bring it out and let it come up to room temperature before shaping (probably would do that in the time that you are preheating the oven).

Naan can be baked on the barbecue and/or also be shaped in thickish rounds before baking and used in place of hamburger buns.

adapted from recipes in "A Taste of India" by Madhur Jaffrey and "Entertaining Indian Style" by Shehzad Husain.

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Back to our recipes

Gourmet Sleuth: Conversion & Ingredient Tables . Traditional Oven: Conversion of measures of ingredients calculator
metric weight equivalents for flour and water . Bread Making Notes


Flat Breads:
Chapatis (faux tortillas) . Focaccia . Naan . Paratha . Pita . Tortillas

Italian dishes:
Basil Pesto . Borlotti (Cranberry Beans) Pasta Sauce . Eggplant Pepper Antipasto (hot) . Eggplant Antipasto . Eggplant Lasagne . Focaccia . Fresh Pasta . Manicotti . Pan Bigio (bread) . Pane Francese (bread) . Pasta with Hot Chillies & Broccoli . Pasta with Hot Chillies & Tomatoes . Pasta with Nettles & Cream Sauce . Pizza . Spaghettini with mint pesto . Tomato Sauce . Torta Verde (Spinach Pie)

Focaccia with Rosemary and Onion

revised July 2007

focaccia (photo ejm 2007) This really is the most fabulous Focaccia. It is dead easy to make and I highly recommend it.

July 2007: For thinner focaccia, allow for about an hour's rising time after shaping the bread. For thicker focaccia, allow for about 3 hour's rising time after shaping the bread.

Ingredients

Preparation

  1. In a smallish bowl, mix yeast with ¼ c lukewarm water (do the baby's bottle test on your wrist) and malt powder if using. Let stand as you mix the other ingredients or until it bubbles (5 to 10 minutes).
  2. In the meantime, put the room temperature water and oil into a large mixing bowl. Add whole wheat flour ½ c at a time. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Add the salt and only as much unbleached allpurpose flour as you need to make dough pull away from sides of bowl (I use 2 c.) Add the whole wheat flour, salt and 2 cups of the unbleached allpurpose flour (just enough to make dough pull away from sides of bowl). Stir well with a wooden spoon.
  3. Put about ¼ c Sprinkle a small amount of the remaining allpurpose flour on a wooden board. Turn the dough out onto the board. Let the dough rest as you wash and dry your mixing bowl.
  4. Knead the dough by hand for about 10 to 15 minutes, adding as little extra flour as possible, until the dough is silky smooth and springy. The dough should remain rather soft. (I do this part before late breakfast.)
  5. Put dough in an oiled large bowl, turning the dough to oil all sides of it. Put dough into the clean mixing bowl. (I used to oil the bowl but have found it is completely unnecessary.) Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let rise for about 1½ hours or until double. (We eat a leisurely breakfast and the dough was risen to double.)
  6. Deflate the dough gently and knead for a minute or two. Oil Place parchment paper on a large baking sheet with sides (it may be called a jelly roll pan). Use your fingers to cover the parchment paper with olive oil (I used the oil from the bowl that I let the dough rise in.)

    for thinner focaccia:
    Stretch and pat the dough on the baking sheet to roughly form a 12x12 inch square. Place some thinly sliced onions on half the bread and press them into the dough. Cover the pan with a damp cloth and let the dough rise again for about 45 minutes.

    for thicker focaccia pre-shaping: Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a large jelly-roll tray. Oil the parchment and place the dough in the center. Use your fingers to gently stretch it towards the edges of the pan. It will try to bounce back. This is to be expected. When it's almost to the edges, cover with a clean dish towel and allow to rest on the counter for 30 minutes.

    shaping: Drizzle the top of the dough with half the olive oil and half the water. With wet hands, complete the stretching with your fingers. It will be very easy to pull the dough. Leave lots of indentations in the dough. Scatter the rosemary leaves and onion slices over top of the dough. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle fleur de sel (or coarse seasalt) over top. Splash the rest of the water on and use your fingers to spread it lightly and evenly over top. Leave uncovered and allow to rise on the counter for about 3 hours. (If it seems like it is drying out, spray a little room temperature water over it.)
  7. Half an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 450F. for thinner focaccia: Make indentations with your fingertips about every 2 inches, dimpling the dough all over. (this was very pleasing to do) Sprinkle fresh rosemary needles into the indentations. (I did this on the non onion half of the bread) Drizzle the dough with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden (I think I baked it about 40 minutes but checked it after 25 and then every five minutes after that). To ensure that the bottom crust stays crispy, take out of the pan immediately after the bread is done and store it on a rack. Serve warm, cut or broken into pieces.

    for thicker focaccia: Place the focaccia tray on the top shelf of the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 400F. Bake for about 20 minutes til golden. It's a good idea to turn the tray around half way through the baking time - to allow for uneven oven heat.

    Remove from pan to a wooden board and slice with a pizza wheel. Serve immediately.

(The thinner focaccia bread is ready to eat at about 1:30pm if started at about 10:00am. Thicker focaccia is ready to eat at about 8:00pm if started at about 2:00pm.)

Focaccia can be baked in the barbecue as well. Preheat the barbecue to medium high heat. Place the pan on the grill and close the lid. After about 5 minutes, check to make sure the bottom is not getting too brown. Keep checking from time to time... If it seems like the bottom is cooking faster than the top, flip the focaccia over, close the barbecue lid and continue cooking.

The above recipe was adapted from focaccia recipes in Sundays At Moosewood Restaurant by the Moosewood Collective (published by Simon&Schuster/Fireside 1990), The Italian Baker by Carol Field (published by Harper & Row) and Piano Piano Pieno by Susan McKenna Grant (published by Harper Collins Canada 2006)

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Focaccia dough can also be shaped in thickish rounds, baked and used in place of hamburger buns.

To blog from OUR kitchen - focaccia
To blog from OUR kitchen - sage focaccia
To blog from OUR kitchen - focaccia again
Back to our recipes

Flat Breads:
Chapatis (faux tortillas) . Focaccia . Naan . Paratha . Pita . Tortillas

Other breads:
Flatbreads . Quickbreads, Biscuits and Muffins . Yeast breads




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ejm (aka llizard) 2000-2007
Toronto Ontario Canada

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