Bruschetta.
Bruschetta.

Going the yeast way

The one book you must have if you aspire to bake bread in an Indian kitchen

If you’re anything like me, be warned: do not, I repeat, do NOT read this book on an empty stomach. Or in between meals. If you love bread—as I do—all this book will do is make you bring out your baking paraphernalia and set about making dinner rolls or a foccacia or, why get fancy, a whole-wheat loaf for breakfast.

And while you measure out water and flour and yeast, you’ll wonder why no one wrote this book earlier. You’ll remember looking at the store-bought yeast dunked into lukewarm water and cursing it for not frothing. You’ll remember the blank stares you got when you asked for bread flour at the gourmet shop. You’ll remember thinking if you’d be ever able to bake a whole-wheat bread (and bid a relieved good-bye to the ‘brown bread’ at the local bakery). You’ll remember all that and silently thank Saee Koranne-Khandekar.

Crumbs! Bread Stories and Recipes for the Indian Kitchen by Saee Koranne-Khandekar, published by Hachette, 256 pages, 450
Crumbs! Bread Stories and Recipes for the Indian Kitchen by Saee Koranne-Khandekar, published by Hachette, 256 pages, 450

But, let’s admit it, you’re probably far far more intimidated by the idea of bread than roti. And that’s precisely the mindset that Koranne-Khandekar addresses: She evokes the making of rotis to explain kneading bread-dough, refers to idli fermentation to demystify yeast and tweaks classic Western recipes for the hot and humid Indian weather conditions. She also works with our commonest flours, the chakki atta and maida—no spelt or rye breads here—though there’s the odd recipe for gluten-free and multigrain breads.

Now excuse me please, for I really must go and bake some bread.

P.S. That wasn’t just for effect—I did bake some bread, the 100 per cent whole-wheat loaf without any additives (read, vital wheat gluten, usually used when the dough skips white flour) and, while it did call for about three times the yeast I need in the 1:2::maida:atta bread I usually bake, it was comfortingly dense, nutty and intense. This is totally my go-to loaf going forward.

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