finger bananas:

My Godsister Yamuna Devi sadly passed away not too long ago. I would like to continue to occasionally offer her classic recipes online for your cookery pleasure.


Soft yet Strong

wearing down:

“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong.”
Lao-Tze 604 BC

The Singing Naan

Do you have days when you find yourself craving a certain type of food? I awoke wanting to eat hot ghee-slathered naan breads. This archival detour may lead me to buttery, crispy-edged heaven today…

Namita Gupta from Kuala Lumpur wrote:

“I have experience of making naan bread in a gas-tandoor. Now I am
trying to prepare it using microwave oven (with convection function). Please
can you give me the method how to make one.”

My reply:

Well I never use microwave ovens, of all varieties. They are rubbish, unhealthy and useless for all breadmaking, in my opinion. Sorry to be so frank but I would never dream of trying to cook Naan in a microwave oven.

If you can find a regular oven, here is my recipe for Naan without a tandoor.


Punjabi Baked Flatbread (Naan)

This popular leavened bread, especially enjoyed in Punjab in north-west India and Pakistan, is cooked in a traditional coal or wood-fired clay oven called a tandoor. Many versions of this flat bread are found throughout central Asia, from Iran in the East to the Soviet countries in the North.

The breads, enriched with milk, yogurt and butter, are slapped onto the inner walls of the hot oven where they cook quickly, partially puffing, and taking on a smoky flavour. The occasional charred spot from where the flames lick them adds a delightful crisp textured crust. This recipe calls for a household griller, which does a pretty good job.

If you have a tandoor oven, all the better. Naan are traditionally sprinkled with kalonji seeds that are also known as nigella seeds and occasionally misnamed as onion seeds. Kalonji seeds are available at Indian and specialty grocers.

DOUGH RESTING TIME: about 4 1/2 hours

PREPARATION TIME: about 30 minutes

COOKING TIME: about 6 minutes per bread

YIELD: 6 naan

1/2 teaspoons dried yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons warm water

1/4 cup warm milk

1/4 cup yogurt

4 tablespoons melted butter or ghee

3 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kalonji seeds

about 1/2 cup extra warm water

2 teaspoons extra kalonji seeds

Combine the yeast, sugar and warm water in a small bowl and set aside for 5-10 minutes, or until the mixture becomes frothy.

Mix the frothy yeast mixture with the warm milk, yogurt and melted butter or ghee. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and 1 teaspoon kalonji seeds in a large bowl, and add the blended wet ingredients. Mix well, adding a little of the extra warm water at a time until the mixture leaves the side of the bowl and becomes a non-sticky, kneadable dough. Knead for 6-8 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and set it aside in a warm place for about 4 hours or until it is well risen.

Punch the dough down and knead it briefly, adding a little flour if it is sticky. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and form each piece into a smooth ball. Place the balls on an oiled plate and cover them with plastic wrap. Allow the balls to rest for 10-15 minutes.

Pre-heat the griller to the highest setting. Place a shelf 12.5cm (5 inches) under the heat source, and pre-heat your baking sheet. Roll and stretch a ball of dough into a teardrop shape, about 25cm (10 inches) long and 12.5cm (5 inches) wide at its base. Repeat for one more ball of dough and spray the bread with water. Sprinkle on half the extra kalonji seeds.

Place the breads under the griller and cook them for about 3 minutes on each side, or until they rise and turn golden brown. Avoid placing the breads too close to the griller, otherwise the breads may not fully cook inside before browning. If you wish, allow the breads to become slightly toasted, with a few charcoal flecks.

Remove the breads from the oven, cover them with a clean teatowel and repeat the procedure for the remaining breads. Serve the naan hot or warm.

My Winter Garden – Part Eight – New Broads in Town

Heads up! There’s some new, beautiful young broads in town. I purchased organic broadbeans from Eden Seeds, my favourite supplier.

New Broads on the Block 1:

They took ages to poke their heads up. Two weeks in fact, but that is quite normal. There’s 90 – 120 days between sowing and picking.

New Broads on the Block 2:

One secret of broadbeans is to not water them at all from the day of planting until two distinct leaves are visible above the ground, else there is a chance of rotting.

New Broads on the Block 3:

I planted 70 beans in various places in the garden. Some were devoured by slugs, some are being eaten as of today, some seem fine. I just read that sprinkling eggshells or cinnamon around the plants sends slugs running. Or sliding.

Pizza, But Not As We Know It

The other day I decided to whip up a batch of what I call Pizza Swirls. It’s pizza, but not as we know it.

I had made a decent-sized batch of pizza dough (using 600g ‘strong’ pizza/bread flour). I had divided it into 6 balls and placed each ball in the freezer wrapped in a zip-lock bag. I removed a single bag from the freezer in the morning, and by the evening the dough had thawed and was rising (‘it’s alive!!!’)

pizza but there's more:

I rolled it out, covered it with homemade tomato sauce, olives, and fresh basil leaves from my garden. Then I rolled it up, tightly.

roll it up man:

After the pizza was rolled up, it resembled a tight tube of dough.

pizza tube:

I sliced it, with a sharp knife, making sure to cut through completely.

get slicing:

I carefully lifted each little pizza swirl, and left them to rise on a pizza tray coved with baking paper.

swirls for baking:

When the swirls had doubled in size I baked them in a hot oven until golden and ‘pizza-like’.

finished swirls:

The end result were soft, aromatic, melty and all you would expect from a pizza, only more bite-sized.

Slugs Be Gone! Nuking with Cucs

I am sure you would agree that one of the greatest disappoinments for an organic gardener is to find crop beds decimated by critters. Considering that many edible plants take months to mature, one often throws his or her hands up to the garden gods and proclaims ‘what’s the use!!’


Interestingly, it seems that the same simple kitchen ingredient that rid my garden of parrots (who ate all my young snow pea sprouts) could be the answer to my slug and caterpillar problem.

To explain: an old friend sent me an article about cucumbers the other day. Here’s the excerpt that caught my eye.

“Are grubs and slugs ruining your planting beds? Place a few slices in a small pie tin and your garden will be free of pests all season long. The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off a scent undetectable to humans but drive garden pests crazy and make them flee the area”…

nuke dem cucs:

I don’t have any spare aluminium pie tins, and besides, in the rainy weather I considered the need for constantly draining off the accumulated water a bit of a hassle. So I lined a few take-away containers with aluminium foil (shiny side up), made some holes for rainwater drainage,
and proceeded ‘anon’ as recommended above. Let us see whether we can ‘nuke with cucs’.

(Afterword: since I performed what seemed to be the magic procedure for de-slugging as described, here’s the result: The slugs came and ate all the cucumbers. Maybe that was a good thing, so they avoided the plants. Or maybe there is worse to come…)

My Winter Garden – Part Seven ( 'From Siberia')

Here is my up-and-coming Dwarf Siberian Kale, Brassica napus ssp. pabularia. They must feel right at home at the moment, considering the antarctic-inspired weather here in Sydney.

dwarf kale:

The Russo-Siberian Kales mostly have come out of Northern Europe and Northern Asia. Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, and zeaxanthin. I look forward to using it in my kitchen.

Ghosts Demystified

This might seem like an odd subject for my food and travel blog. In fact, I have eclectic tastes and this article is well-written and presents a much-misunderstood subject with clarity. The founder of the website* where this link takes you has scientific credentials as well as spiritual ones. Hence the name of his website.

3 levels of being:

(*He has presented papers on the interface of science and spirituality as an invited delegate at national and international conferences, including World Peace Conference, 2006 and World Peace Congress, 2008 organized under the UNESCO chair etc)