Monday, October 15, 2012

No knead focaccia with caramelized onions

A lot has happened between my last food post and this one. For one, we have moved cities AGAIN. I am now a Mumbaikar doing my best to do justice to the umpteen kinds of street food served in the city. Between sampling every kind of chaat imaginable and setting up home in this city, I totally forgot to acknowledge the sixth anniversary of this blog which came and went  in June this year.
 Suma Rowjee's No Knead Focaccia is something that I wanted to bake when she posted it waaaay back in May of last year. Then, of course, I promptly forgot all about it until she re-posted it on facebook yesterday. Memory and want rekindled, I decided to bake it today. The basic recipe I have followed is hers, with changes made to suit our palate, as far as the add-on ingredients go.

What you need:
Maida/All purpose flour - 1.5 cups + 2 tbsp
Lukewarm water - 3/4 cup
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Active dry yeast - 2 tsp
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Oil - 1.5 tbsp
Juice of half a lemon
Onion - 1 large, chopped lengthwise into thin  strips
Seasoning - I used a mix of dried garlic, rosemary & parsley - 2 tsp (to be mixed with the dough)+ 1 tsp(for sprinkling on top)

Step 1 : Proof the yeast.
Dissolve sugar in water. Add the yeast to it. Mix well and let it stand covered for 10 minutes till it becomes frothy.
Step 2 : Caramelize onions. 
Take a teaspoon of olive oil in a pan. Stir in the onions along with a teaspoon of sugar. Saute on low heat till light brown. I did not let them turn dark brown in the pan as I felt that the onions would burn once they were in the oven.
Step 3 : The dough
Mix all the ingredients (including the caramelized onions) together with a wooden spoon. Once well mixed, stir it around 20 strokes with the spoon. Grease a round baking dish generously with oil (I used olive). Transfer the dough to the greased dish and spread it using your greased hand. Cover and let it stand for an hour. After an hour, I found that my dough had not risen much. So I let it stand for another 30 minutes. Again, not much of a rise, but the dough did look puffy and aerated. Dimple the surface of the dough with your fingers. Drizzle 2 tsp of olive oil and 1 tsp of seasoning on top. Preheat the oven to 200 degree centigrade. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Mine looked done at about 20 minutes, but I put it in for an additional four minutes to let the top brown further.
Cool on a wire rack.

Slice and enjoy!!!

My thoughts :
This really is an easy and fool proof recipe. If you are looking for a good recipe to start baking bread with, this is it.
The caramelized onions add a lovely flavour to the bread. However, feel free to substitute with any topping of your choice. I think I did the right thing by not letting the onions brown too much. By the time they were out of the oven, they were crisp and beautifully browned.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Book Review - The Krishna Key

I am a huge fans of books that deal with Indian mythology. Ashwin Sanghi, the author of Rozabal Line and Chanakya's Chant, both popular books in their own right, has now come out with a new book called The Krishna Key. I loved Sanghi's Rozabal line......liked his Chanakya's Chant and am a little ambivalent about this one.
The book is evidently extremely well researched. There is a lot of information, which in the beginning, though captivating and interesting, after a little while, starts to get overwhelming. To quote one of the characters in the story, there is so much information that it makes one's head reel.
This genre of stories became popular with Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and in the Indian context, there are so many many myths that could be beautifully woven together to make a story which leaves one wondering if everything we've been taught to believe of as the truth is, in reality, true or not.
Sanghi's novel uses the story of Krishna as the background. It particularly deals with the final avatar of Krishna - the Kalki avatar, the story of which generations of Indians have listened to while growing up. The Kalki avatar is believed to arise when dark forces are on the rise and is believed to be the annihilator of all evil. A young man, believed to be the final avatar, kills people in a particular manner, each time leaving behind one of the sacred symbols of Vishnu.
What is the purpose of these killings? Is this young man truly the Kalki avatar or is he merely someone who is a pawn in the hands of a much more powerful entity?

A book written by an author who went by the pseudonym Shawn Haigins while publishing his first book, cannot be complete without word play – and there is, expectedly, a lot of that. Anagrams,word puzzles, coding and decoding of letters - all these are there in plenty in various parts of the book. 
Initially, the book is fast paced and keeps you wanting to read more. However, like I said in the beginning, in a while, you are bombarded with so much information, that a part of it is not even processed by the brain.
The author takes the reader on a journey to several places that are famous for their connection to Krishna and Shiva- Dwaraka, Vrindavan, Kalibangan, Kailash & Somnath, in an attempt to find a priceless treasure that is believed to have been left behind by Krishna. 
Is Krishna a real being that lived in India several centuries back or is he merely a figment of the collective over imagination of a people who idolized their Gods? Could India truly have been the forerunner in several fields including medicine, science, architecture and mathematics? Is it possible that ancient Indians new much more than all the best brains of the developed world put together? These are some of the questions that came to my mind as I was reading "The Krishna Key".
The Krishna Key is published by Westland and is available in shops for Rs 250/-
While the price makes it an attractive buy, I do not think that it is as good as Sanghi's Rozabal Line. That doesn't mean that it is a bad read. It is definitely something that you should read atleast once, especially if you are interested in this kind of fiction.
This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!