Every culture and cuisine has their own version of bread and I like all of them. Flat or tall, round, square oblong, leavened, or un, paper-thin or giant heavy slabs. I love the stuff.
What I don't love is the mixing, kneading, waiting, rising, punching, and pinching that's usually involved in a lot of the bread making process.
When I was fixing my buffet for Oscar night I really wanted to be able to watch everyone come down the red carpet, I didn't want to be in the kitchen wielding a tava, turning out hot chapattis like a crazed robot. I know I could have made them ahead and kept them warm but I'm a stickler and for me it's all about the fresh and puffy.
It doesn't get any fresher or puffier than the light and delicious Gujarati treat, known as Dhokla . The first time I ever made this amazing steamed bread, about 20 years ago, I was in hog heaven. I gorged on it, then moved on to mastering other treats. Last year I started making it again. I'm not neglecting this recipe any more.
I made it for my Bollywood Hollywood Oscar Feast and by the time I made my way over to the buffet for my share of the goodies, the plate had been pillaged. Yes, it's that good. The recipe I used is adapted from a simple traditional recipe featured in Lord Krishnas' Cuisine by Yamuna Devi.
The recipe requires a bit of time, but it's lazy time in that once the batter is mixed, it's set aside for at least 8 hours or overnight. Go do your thing, let that batter rest wrapped up warm in a safe place. The bread is made and steamed the next day in about 15 minutes. So easy, and since it's made with besan or gram flour made from ground up chickpeas, it's high in protein and gluten free!
Here's how to make this very simple bread.
In a bowl mix together :
1.) 1 and 1/2 cups of sifted gram (chickpea garbanzo) flour
2.) 2 hot green chilies finely minced
3.) 1 and 1/2 Tbs of finely chopped fresh ginger
4.) 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
5.) 1/4 tsp turmeric
6.) 3/4 tsp salt
7.) 1 tsp jaggery or brown sugar
8.) 3 Tbs of vegetable oil
9.) 2/3 cup of plain yogurt
Mix it up well. It will be a rather thick batter. Cover the bowl and set it aside in a warm place for at least 4 hours. I usually leave mine overnight. I keep it in my un-used oven. Important for those of you who do this. Make sure everyone in the house knows you are doing this and the oven remains turned off, otherwise trouble ensues!
The Baking (steaming)
This is how I steam my bread, it's a pretty basic set-up.
1.) Take a large deep pot .
2.) Fill with about an inch of water or so.
3.) Set an iron trivet in the bottom
The trivet is there to hold the cake pan above the water.
Grease an 8 inch cake pan with 1 Tbs of vegetable oil
Turn the heat up under your pot with the trivet, bring the water to a boil
When you are ready to steam your bread...
Prep Your Batter
1.) Sprinkle 1/2 tsp baking powder
2.) 1/2 tsp baking soda
Into the batter, mix it in stirring in one direction
3.) 3 Tbs of warm water still stirring in one direction
The batter will start to bubble and forth, pour it into the greased pan and lower it into the pot.
I made cute little tin foil straps to do this as I don't much like being scalded by steam.
When the bread is in the pan, lay a clean dish towel over the top of the pot, tightly
Place the metal lid of the pot over that.
Steam the bread for about 8 to 12 minutes. You can check to see if it's done by taking the lid off and poking the bread with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, it's done.
Take your bread out of the pot and set the bread pan aside with the towel loosely covering it for about 10 minutes to rest.
After 10 minutes turn it out onto a plate. Cut it into criss-crossed diamond wedges and scatter it with:
1.) 1/3 cup fresh or frozen grated coconut, or dried grated coconut mixed with a bit of water to soften it.
2.) 3 Tbs of chopped fresh cilantro
Just before serving heat :
1.) 1/4 cup unsalted butter in a cast iron pan
When the butter is hot and foamy toss in
2.) 1/2 Tbs black mustard seeds.
When the seeds start to pop, drizzle the entire mixture over the top of the bread, take it to the table and stand back so you don't get trampled.
This bread is wonderful hot out of the steamer, and also great at room temperature. This amount of bread added up to about 24 pieces. There were 10 of us and within an hour there was none left.
This bread is also gluten free (though not sugar free) for those who follow a gluten free diet. It's so good you won't miss the gluten at all.