Soda Bread, To Be Sure

K M from Rostov, Russia asks:

“How can I make a soft, light bread, but without yeast itself?”

My reply:

“This recipe has never let me down. If you want a fast and easy homemade bread recipe with a good texture and a delicious tangy flavour, this is the one for you. Because it contains no yeast, this bread is best made and consumed on the same day. The quantity makes one loaf.”

soda bread:

Buttermilk Soda Bread

2 cups, about 300g (11 ounces) unbleached plain flour,

2 cups, about 300g (11 ounces) wholemeal (whole wheat) plain flour,

½ teaspoon cream of tartar,

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda,

1 teaspoon sea salt,

2 cups buttermilk (or some sort of cultured or sour milk),

sea salt flakes.

Preheat the oven to 220° C / 425° F. Lightly flour a baking tray.
Sift the flours, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda and sea salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the mixture.

Pour in almost all the buttermilk, then stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Feel the dough. It should be slightly sticky. If too dry, add the remaining buttermilk. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface.

Gently knead the dough for 1 minute (do not over knead).

Shape the dough into a round and place on the prepared baking tray. Cut a 1.5cm (½-inch) deep cross into the dough and sprinkle with the sea salt flakes.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden and cooked through (test with a wooden skewer – if it comes out clean, it’s done).

Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Allow to cool then cover with a dampened towel until required.

Serve: break off chunks or cut into slices.

Note: you can add nuts or dried fruit to this recipe.

Yamuna Devi's Nutritious Whole Grain, Split Pea and Vegetable Soup (Sabji Matar Dal)

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More serialising of recipes by my cooking guru, Yamuna Devi. Before attempting to cook any of her recipes, make sure you are aware of the difference between US measures and Australian/metric measures. See below*

This is a quick pressure-cooker soup that is warming, nutritious and very welcome on cold winter days. You can vary this recipe by substituting Parsnips, green beans, zucchini or corn for any of the suggested vegetables. A nice stew can be obtained by adding large, even-sized pieces of potato or winter squash. (You will need to increase the amount of water a bit when cooking these starchy vegetables).

Try your own favourite combinations according to the season and time of day. You can get whole grains and split peas at most health food stores and co-ops, so the next time you are out shopping pick up a pound (455g) each of whole barley, wheat, rye, brown rice, millet and split peas. At the rate of only 1-2 table spoons (15-30 ml) per pot of soup, you will be able to stretch these wholesome ingredients over many meals. This soup is a meal in itself, and it is also goes especially well with buttered steamed Rice, a bowl of home made Yogurt and a tossed green salad.

Grain and dal soaking time: 2 hours,

Preparation time (after assembling ingredients): 5 minutes,

Cooking time: 25 minutes in a pressure cooker,

Serves: 6 to 8.

2 tablespoons each barley, wheat, rye, brown rice, wild rice, millet and split peas,

7 cups (1.75 liters) water,

1 medium-sized carrot scraped and cut into ¼ -inch (6 mm) rounds,

1 medium-sized celery stalk and leaves, sliced,

1 large firm ripe tomato, cut into 8 pieces
1 generous handful of spinach (about 1 ounce/30 g), washed, dried, stemmed and coarsely chopped,

1 teaspoon scraped, finely shredded or minced fresh ginger root,

1 teaspoon minced seeded hot green chili (or as desired),

1 teaspoon turmeric,

2 teaspoons ground coriander,

1½ teaspoons salt,

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or coarsely chopped coriander,

4 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil,

1 teaspoon cumin seeds.

Mix together the grains and split peas and soak in hot water for 2 hours.

Combine them with the remaining ingredients (except the salt, parsley or coriander, 2 tablespoons of the ghee or vegetable oil and the cumin seeds) in a 6-quart/liter pressure cooker.

Cover and cook under pressure for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the pressure to drop. Uncover and stir in the salt and herb.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee or vegetable oil over moderate heat in a small saucepan. When it is hot, add the cumin seeds and fry until they are brown. Pour them into the soup and cover immediately. Allow the seasonings to soak into the hot dal for 1-2 minutes. Stir and serve.

*Note that since Yamuna wrote her recipes using US measurements, the weights are in US with metric in brackets.

More importantly, her tablespoons are US (15ml) whereas Australian/metric tablespoons are 20ml. So if you follow these recipes using metric measures, your tablespoons should be scant.

Similarly, the US cup is 240ml as distinct from the Australian/metric 250ml cup. The same scant measuring should thus apply to Australian/metric cup users.

The teaspoon is a universal 5ml.

Yamuna Devi's Papaya, Avocado and Jerusalem Artichoke Salad

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I continue serialising some superb recipes by my cooking guru, Yamuna Devi. Before attempting to cook any of her recipes, make sure you are aware of the difference between US measures and Australian/metric measures. See below*

The creaminess of papaya and avocado and crispness of Jerusalem artichokes are pleasantly set off by the sweetish coriander-lime vinaigrette. You may prefer mango instead of papaya, or celeriac instead of Jerusalem artichokes. Peled Jerusalem artichokes may be blanched before use or left raw, depending on your preference. This light salad goes well on any menu from lunch to late supper. Serves 4.

3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey,

¼ cup lime juice,

1/3 cup olive oil or two parts almond oil to three parts sunflower oil,

½ teaspoon salt,

¼ teaspoon yellow mustard powder,

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper,

3 table spoons chopped fresh coriander,

1 medium-sized papaya (about 2½ pounds/1.5 kg), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, sliced crosswise into 1/3

The Real KFC

Happy New Year everyone!

You may (or may not) have heard of The Real IRA – well here’s something equally revolutionary. Why not try The Real KFCKurma’s Fried Cauliflowers. Crispy nuggets of cauliflower (or any vegetable, for that matter) fried in a spicy batter seasoned with Kurma’s secret herbs and spices. Whenever and wherever I cook them, they are always a crowd-pleaser.

Incidentally, I was calling Kurma’s Fried Cauliflower KFC way before that notorious brand name, originally called Kentucky Fried Chicken, became KFC. I should have copyrighted the name back then. Yes I know – woulda, coulda, shoulda…


Assorted Crisp Vegetable Fritters (Pakoras)

Pakoras are popular spiced, batter-dipped, deep-fried vegetables that make perfect snacks or hors d’oeuvres. Ghee is the preferred medium for frying pakoras, although you can use nut or vegetable oil.

The tradition of frying things in batter is popular throughout the culinary world. In Italy, there