Indian Spiced Bread OR Dill and onion bread

Whole wheat masala bread

I have been on an eye cleansing and soul cleansing trip reading some really wonderful books. It all started off with "Mahatma Vs. Gandhi" which compelled me to re-start and this time finish with better understanding, "My experiments with truth" (this link is a freely dowloadable pdf version in case you are interested in reading the book). Once again the ideologies of Gandhiji inspired me - the fact that so many years later this simple and humble person still continues to motivate many fills me with wonder! The appetite was whetted and the tempo raised when I attended a two day course on "stress management". I will share some of that soon on "Trivial thoughts." We were recommended "Tuesdays with Morrie", which anyway had been on my mind for very long.

I read it in two memorable days between smiles and tears and lumps in my throat. Memorable because I was reading while commuting and had to perform 'gaze in the distance' act, willing the tears to go back, 'smiling at complete strangers' act which is a natural reaction to a good writer's efforts. A girl looked at me, then turned and looked behind her, and then looked back at me questioning with her eyes - "Is it me you are smiling at?" It happens many times - I enjoy the reactions and the experience. I also struck a good friendship with a stranger once:) .

The book itself is moving and compels one to take a deep look back at life spent, start living 'a step at a time', stay in the present and enjoy to fullest the moments of joy that the day offers rather than wait with a plan in hand for happiness. We all know there is no 'set plan' for happiness but we sometimes tend to defer life in search of the plan. Maybe it is because of indulging too much in this pleasure of reading that I have been taking long sabbaticals between each post. I need to keep a balance between my virtual and real existence and I respect my real life too much to tear away myself too long and so the posts have been gradually dwindling to trickles. Right now I am still obsessed with this genre of books which has led me to devour Randy Pausch's 'The LAST LECTURE'.

The contrary is equally true, for sometimes when I have not written anything for a long time I miss you all. I miss the unique interaction and exchange of ideas that each post brings. I enjoy reading, sending and receiving those impromptu mails. I am discovering that this space is no longer just a food blog where I record recipes to cherish and share - it is my space to meet, chat and exchange smiles and news. I sometimes prefer writing to you an email unnecessarily longer than just a reply to say "thanks for the entry" because your food blog means the same to me - "more than just a food blog", and hence I like to celebrate with the person behind the blog. In fact the food sometimes take a back seat and I have to force myself to come back to the present with a jolt - like this one!

Ah!! Coming to the point - yes, there is food too and good bread at that!

To replicate Banglore Iyengar Bakery's "Masala Bread" has been a long time wish of mine. It is one of the best signature breads. Why signature? If France has its french bread and Italy its ciabatta, then Bangalore (India) also has its own masala bread. I am sure those of you who have tasted will agree with me!

Indian masala bread

In Bangalore, Mysore or even Chennai almost every lane has a "Bangalore Iyengar Bakery" outlet. Not all outlets are genuine - the test is the taste of the masala bread and the sponge cake made by them. The aroma of a good masala bread will strain on your senses and pull you like a leash. At least that is how the very popular Srinivas Iyengar Bakery in Bangalore pulls it customers. Unfortunately I stay in Thane and it is not possible for me to reach out to my favourite masala bread whenever I wish. The lack of means motivated me to create my own. I tried once before but the flavour wasn't perfect though the texture was. This time I incorporated B's advice.

When my sister visited me this Summer I told her about the failed masala bread. B is indeed blessed with a very strong olfactory system for though she does not bake breads she was able to point out the basic flaw in my attempt at baking the typical masala bread. She said, "I think they (Srinivas IB) add a lot of dill weed to their breads. Their masala breads carry a very strong flavour of dill." I replied, "Isn't that truly a case of sniffing out the bread?"

I am not very fond of this weed but the yearning for the ultimate masala bread made sure that the next bunch of fresh garlic chives and dill weeds found their way into my shopping bag.

The bread turned out perfect! I realized that it not dill that I do not like - it is just that I never knew how to use it. (An aside lesson: Next time we don't like someone or something we must try changing our own plane of view.) Cooking can be adventurous, therapeutic, cathartic, relaxing and reflective - anything but monotonous (at least sometimes)!

I did not have to brainstorm much to get to the recipe once I knew the flavouring ingredient. I used a basic wholewheat bread recipe and played with the amount, and the combination of herbs to come up with this version. A lot depends on the quality of flour used. Since I am not "pampered for choice" with just two versions - Whole wheat flour and maida - it was easy to make my choice.

In my first attempt I used all purpose flour combined with the whole wheat flour to ensure a light bread. The second time I used only whole wheat flour and fortified the bread with wheat bran. There was a difference in texture naturally - the second bread was much denser than the first. All the same it was as tasty as the earlier one. If you have the option of using "vital wheat gluten", do go ahead but for others who like me, do not have access to this may use 1/2 cup of APF. I am posting the photographs of both versions to show that even 1/2 cup of APF does make a world of difference to the texture.

Do not worry if your dough is sticky and pulls a lot before the first rise because it will turn out fine after the rise.

Here are the recipes for the "healthy version" and the "very very healthy version":

Indian masala bread

Healthy Masala Bread (with some amount of APF also):
Yield : 1 small loaf to serve 3 people


Soy milk (I used Silk) - 150ml divided
Fat (I used vegan butter and oil together) - 1tbsp. butter + 2tbsp. oil + 1tsp. oil
Sugar - 2tbsp.
Cleaned and roughly chopped dill weeds (shepu/sabja keerai) - 1/4 cup
Cleaned and roughly chopped coriander leaves (dhania) - 2 tbsp.
Cleaned and roughly chopped garlic chives - 3 tbsp.
Finely chopped green chilli - 1 small (more if preferred)
Finely chopped ginger - 1/4 tsp.
All spice powder - 1/2 tsp. (I use my own mix which has more of cardamom and white pepper)
Finely chopped onion - 1/2 cup
All Purpose Flour / maida - 1/2 cup
Fresh ground almond flour (with skin) - 1/4 cup
Whole wheat flour /ashirwaad atta - 1.5 cups
Active dry yeast - 2tsp.


Warm the water and add the yeast. Set aside to froth.

Heat 1 tbsp. oil and melt the butter in it. Add the green chillies and ginger, followed by onions and saute till the onion turns translucent. Leave to cool.

Heat half the milk (75ml), add the oil and sugar and dissolve. Cool to room temperature.

Combine the flours and spice powder roughly. Add the dill, coriander and chives and stir together. Make a well in the center and add the cooled onion mixture. Add the cooled milk-sugar-oil mixture. Stir the mixture adding the rest of the plain milk as and when required. Turn the sticky dough onto a well floured work surface. Knead performing the quarter turns and stretching and folding method. The dough will become elastic but will retain some stickiness.

Put back inside a greased bowl and cover with an oiled clingflim. Leave it for about 40minutes for the first proofing.

Turn out again on a lightly floured work surface. This time the dough will be elastic and easy to handle. Deflate very gently with the heel pushing the dough to form a rectangle. Loosen the rectangle by quickly dimple the dough with oiled fingers. Drizzle 1/4tsp. oil and fold the dough over itself. Turn by a quarter and again dimple and fold. Do this three times turning a quarter in one direction. The fourth time dimple lightly and fold in thirds. It will look like a ciabatta loaf about 7 inches long and 3 inches wide. Place this in floured bread tin for the second proof. Cover the tin with an oiled cling film.

I start at 6:30 in the evening and place the tin inside the refrigerator. Remove the next morning and allow the dough to thaw. The dough will not have doubled in size but it will be quite plump and smooth.

Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees. Place the tin and bake for about 30minutes at 160deg. Celsius.

Check whether it has been done by tapping the tin. If the sound is hollow the bread is done.

We ate them just like that with chai. The herbs and onion do not need any thing to jazz the bread.

Whole wheat version (Fortified with wheat bran and no APF):

This version tastes very good when toasted. I made a double loaf this time. I noticed that though I had increased the quantity of flour, I needed less hydration this time. The dough would have turned sticky if I had doubled the quantity of water. Now I know what %age was all about! If you want a softer bread you could use butter where I have used oil and increase the quantity of a tbsp. but I tried to keep the fat to minimum.

Whole wheat masala bread

I followed the same method and made changes only in the combination of ingredients. Listed below is the change.

Flour mix:
40g - almond meal
4 tbsp. - wheat bran
1tsp. - salt
425 - atta

Spice mix:
1 cup dill
2 medium sized onions
1tbsp. oil
2 green chillies
1/2 cup coriander
5-6 curry leaves
(Chopped fine and sauteed in oil)

75ml - water + 1tbsp. yeast + 1/2 tsp. sugar - to froth
Milk - 200ml
Oil - 2 tbsp.
Sugar - 3tbsp.
(heat milk oil and sugar as before)

For basting during rises and while baking:
Oil - 1tbsp.
Milk - 1tbsp.

Method: - See the first one. It is the same.

Hey! I also found a bee-yoo-tiful book on beaded work. It has exquisite designs and am making a beaded dragon fly on Jr.H's knee high denims, 2 inches above the knee. The thought of how it will look is already making me so happppppppppy:). On that note - Happy weekend!

I am sending this to Susan's yeastspotting for the week 08.08 to 14.08.09.


If you liked this one you may also like to see these:
|Banana Nut Loaf | Oatmeal bread |Banana bread and banana cake
Brioche | Crumpets |Hot Cross Buns |Pretzels |Whole wheat buns |
Zeppoles, zapplas or simply fried donuts! |Herb sticks |Rosetta rolls |
Pizza |
Julia Child's French Bread |
Monkey bread | Potato Bread

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