Making Oats Flour

Is it just my imagination or are we seeing an increase in gluten intolerant people nowadays? And  now with all these ‘paleo’ and ‘vegan’ fads there are some crazy new alternatives to wheat flour. One gluten-free option that caught my eye was Oat flour.

Now my family is a big fan of oat meal and we always have a big stock of all kinds of oats in our pantry. So I decided to try making some flour out of rolled oats and then make some chapatis with the resulting flour.

Oat_flour_01

 I measured out a cup of oats and dumped it into the food processor. It just took a few pulses to get it started and then I let it run for about 30 seconds to get a coarse ground flour. One cup of rolled  oats gives you almost the same amount of flour.

Next I added some salt into the flour and then as my wife poured some tepid water into the bowl I started mixing it into a dough. One thing I realized by now was that this flour lacked the elasticity and springiness of bread flour. I kneaded the dough for a few more minutes and then left it to rest in a bowl.

After half an hour of resting I portioned out the dough into small balls and rolled out chapatis or rather attempted to do so. Since the dough is not elastic it kept breaking at the edges and it felt quite dry. Maybe next time I need to adjust the flour to water ratio for my dough.

We toasted the oat flour ‘disks’ on our tawa for a few minutes on each side and they were ready to eat. What did they taste like? They tasted like oats actually and I kinda liked the texture but it felt a little dry though. The dry texture sparked an idea in my mind for another project involving oat flour. I might try it out during the Eid holidays and will post the results if its successful.

Beginner’s Guide to Baking Bread

During the long Eid holidays I tried my hand at making bread and   after a couple of attempts I got a final product that met my  expectations.

Searching online I found that our very own ‘Vah Chef’ had a recipe for milk rolls and I also found an Italian video for the same rolls but with a small difference in the finishing stages. I used both videos for reference but used my own flour combination to get the texture I wanted. If you look online you’ll find a lot of resources to help you make the perfect loaf but here I’ll list a few of the things that helped me to bake my perfect bread.


Flour choice: Most of the American recipes call for ‘bread flour’ which is a combination of refined flour and a small amount of whole wheat flour. I initially used 100% whole wheat but that ended up in bread that was too tough. My second attempt was with 100% all purpose flour but it was too pale and soft. I finally went with a 70/30 split of all purpose/whole wheat and got my desired texture.

Kneading/developing gluten: I initially used a food processor with the dough blade to Knead the dough but it wasn’t as good as doing it by hand so I applied some elbow grease and spent approximately 10 minutes Kneading and folding the dough. You’ll know the dough has reached the proper state when the dough can be stretched without breaking. This is when the gluten has formed in the dough and gives it the desired texture.

Proofing: Letting the dough rise is important for it to be soft and airy. The proofing can be done in two stages. After Kneading the dough leave it in a damp warm area to rise to at least double its size. I coated the dough ball with oil and then used cling wrap to prevent it from drying out. The second stage of proofing comes in when you’ve knocked the air out of it and cut, shape it to the required sizes. Leave it on the baking tray for a further hour.

Finishing: Right before slamming it into the oven, I brushed egg-wash and sprinkled sesame seeds over all the buns. They went into the oven heated at 175-180 degrees centigrade for 25 minutes. After the first 15 minutes I took them out and rotated the tray 180 degrees for uniform heat distribution. Once the bread was done I took them out and left them to cool for about 10 minutes.

I tried making sausage rolls, stuffed buns and burger buns and they were a lot better than I expected. My next challenge might be baking a proper cake for Christmas.

Bounty Choco Cookies

Last week Mark tweeted about some nice looking cookies in a blog so I thought I’d try them out during the weekend to see how they were. The original recipe can be found [here] and I made some changes to mine; left out the chocolate chips, substituted pecans for walnuts, used only Bounty and Dairy Milk(plain) and reduced the quantity by half.

The original is enough for 3 dozen but since I was experimenting I thought it would be safer to try with a smaller quantity. I goofed up slightly by pouring too much batter for each cookie and by the time it was fully baked I ended up with under a dozen giant sized cookies.

Tangy Tandoori Chicken

I think its been a while since this blog has seen any food posts so this might come as a welcome change. I wanted to try out a tandoori recipe and I added a couple of extra touches of my own and to my surprise it was not half bad. I’m not really good at writing recipes so this is a summary;

Meat
Chicken drumsticks – the smaller the better
Marinade
tandoori powder
paprika powder
salt
pepper
turmeric
lemon juice
ginger garlic paste
tomato puree’
curd

Mix all of the above and keep it ready. Score the chicken drumsticks on both sides with a sharp knife just deep enough for the marinade to penetrate.

TIP: Sever the tendon thats at the base of each leg, this makes the meat easier to come off the bone when you’re serving it.

Rub the marinade into the chicken and leave covered in the fridge overnight. Preheat the oven top burner or broiler to 220 degrees C and place the pieces of chicken on a wire tray directly below the heat. Cook for 10 minutes and turn over. When the second side has cooked for 10 minutes brush with some olive oil and turn over, repeat the same on the other side. Continue cooking till the meat develops a slight char on its exterior. That’s the best we can do with a domestic oven since it can’t match the heat levels of a clay tandoor.

TIP: Drink plenty of beer while you’re doing all this since cooking can cause dehydration. Finally serve with more chilled beer.

കൊഴുകട്ട – Kerala rice dumplings

The ‘കൊഴുകട്ട ‘ or rice dumpling is a fantastic light snack or even breakfast meal thats a year round favorite with me and my brother. Now this cold weather is one more reason to enjoy this Keralite delicacy. For this post my mother volunteered with the recipe and actual cooking. The first one is a sweet version which my mom’s sister has perfected to a whole new level and the second one is a savory version which satisfies meat lovers like me.

Dumpling dough:
Roasted rice flour (available at any Indian grocery store or supermarket)
Boiling water ( I don’t know the reason for this but my mom insists the water ‘has to be’ boiling
Salt

Sift the rice flour and salt in a mixing bowl and then pour in a steady stream of boiling water while quickly stirring the mixture with a fork or spoon. When the dough reaches a soft but homogenous mass you can stop mixing. Now take a small ball of the dough and shape it into a little cup. Drop a spoonful of filling in the middle and close up the sides and you can use a little water to seal it in. Use a traditional idli steamer or rice steamer to cook the dumplings. They should be done in about 10 minutes on full steam.


Sweet filling:
powdered jaggery
shreded coconut
mashed ripe banana
Mix all the ingredients together and that’s it.


Savory filling:
minced beef
onions
green peas
tomato puree
curry leaves
green chillies
garam masala
turmeric power
chili powder
coriander power
salt
pepper

Saute onions and add spices, cook till aroma is released. Add the beef and fry till the beef is no longer pink then add the tomato puree and green peas and cook till the mixture is dry.

As easy as pizza pie

There really isn’t much to say; dough, sauce, toppings, cheese… BAM!!  Pizza!

Check out the list of pizza dough recipes here and this is the one I followed.

Doing it Nando's style

Last weekend during the Eid holidays we thought we’d try out making Peri-Peri chicken at home to see how close we could come to the Nando’s taste. To be honest it was at least 80% like the ones you get at Nandos. One of the minor things missing was the char that comes from grilling over an open flame but we were using a convection oven so I guess that’s okay.

DIY Peri Peri chicken

Meat: 1 pack Tyson Thighs (it was recommended by a reliable source)

Spice mix: Pepper, Rosemary, Thyme, Garlic powder and Salt

Marination: A mixture of Nando’s Peri-Peri sauce, a dash of light Soy sauce and some Hickory smoke BBQ sauce. ( I used Hickory smoke to try to replicate the flavor from a grill)

Preparation: Marinate the chicken for 24 hours and turn once so that the marinade coats all pieces evenly. Preheat the oven to 220 Celsius and turn on both top and bottom burners. Evenly space the chicken pieces on the wire grill and be sure to place the drip tray beneath it. You can also place some veggies there and they’ll soak up all the juices. Turn off the top burner and place the tray of chicken in the middle rack and set the timer for 50 minutes. After the first 25 minutes baste the pieces with the sauce on both sides and return to the oven.

Tips:

1. Do not skin the chicken before you grill it. The skin forms a protective layer over the chicken and it stays moist that way. If you dont like the skin you can discard it after the chicken is done.

2. Place the chicken on a wire rack and not on a tray since the rack will allow the circulation of hot air and also prevent the chicken from getting burned on one side.

3. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving

4. Goes best with chilled beer 😉