Flatbread

I’ve tried a lot of different recipies for flatbread.  A lot.  Some with yeast, some without.  Some with spices, some without.  Some that are just flour and water.  Some that dry fry, some that use fat.  This one however, gives the best bread I think.  It doesn’t have a load of ingredients (just four) but the method is slightly different to others I have tried.

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Start by melting 50g butter in 160mls of whole milk and pour it into 250g of plain flour.  Add 1/2tsp salt and give it a good mix.

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I get the mixer with the dough hook to do this part, you might need to add an extra tbsp of flour if it appears too wet.  Let the dough hook knead it for 3-4 minutes until it is smooth and elastic – you could do this part by hand if you wanted to.  Then wrap the dough ball in cling film and pop it in the fridge for 30 mins to rest.

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Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces (or 6 if you wanted smaller breads) and roll out a piece on a floured surface.  One of the reasons I love this method is that it is really easy to roll out.  With other methods I have used I really struggle to roll it out – as soon as I lift the rolling pin off the bread shrinks back and ends up much smaller than I wanted.  This dough keeps its shape (probably something to do with the butter and/or milk).

I then fry this in a small amount of olive oil (you probably could dry fry it though) and it takes about 2 minutes each side.  We had this with saag paneer and chickpea stew.

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Quesadillas

Pretty much all of my blog posts so far have been about dinner ideas, however a lot of the time I find myself trying to work out what we will have for lunch.  In winter time it can be really nice to have a warm lunch, but also something that can be cooked quickly – quesadillas tick both boxes.  In summertime, the char-grilled outsides give the food a lovely BBQ flavour.

This is incredibly straightforward to make, in its most simple form it has just two ingredients (cheese and tortillas) but I think it is even tastier with one or two extra things added.  It is really versatile, in the past I have put some of the following in – ham, mushrooms, onions, chives, even a few leftover baked beans!  You really could put whatever you wanted in, and its great fun to experiment with different combinations.  Also great to let the kids choose what they want although I would recommend you have cheese in all of them as it might be a little dry without.

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All you need to do is grate some cheese and prepare any other fillings you are going to use (I chopped some chives to go in these).  Then put the filling on one half of the tortilla and fold it in half to make a half-moon shape.

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I then cook these dry on a pre-heated hot griddle pan, turning the quesadilla over once the underneath is nicely charred.  If you want you can rotate it through 90o so you get a nice criss-cross pattern halfway through cooking each side.  It takes a bit of practise, but if you get it right then the outside should be charred and the cheese nicely melted in the middle.  Just be really careful when you or your little-uns are eating these as the middle can be hotter than the sun when they are cooked!

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Lentil dhal

For the first 20 or so years of my life I had dismissed the idea of eating lentils as I simply didn’t know how to cook them and had no desire to order a dish without meat when going out for food!  Then one day when at University I watched my then-flatmate-now-wife make what seemed to be the simplest dish out of these little red lentils.  Surely you have to put loads of ingredients in to make these pulses taste in any way edible?!  I was very wrong…DSCN1065 (2)

Dhal (often called Dal) is a cheap to prepare meal eaten throughout India and the surrounding countries and an excellent source of protein.  It goes well with any curried meat, or in the past when cooking just for myself I would eat it with chapatti or rice.  You can use pretty much any spices you like to this – often I get my eldest son AB to choose what spices to put in!  We sometimes end up with some interesting combinations but as long as you don’t put too much of any one spice in then it will still taste delicious.

Below is the recipe I often use to cook dhal, you can vary the types and quantities of spice you use according to your taste.  The only thing I tend to stay clear of is adding too much, if any, chilli.  You really don’t need any heat with this meal.  A more common method is to boil the lentils and the separately fry the spices in oil before tipping them into the lentils at the last minute.  Personally I prefer the “one pot” approach I use below, I like the idea that you add the spices to start with and then just leave it to bubble away whilst you concentrate on the rest of your meal.

Serves:                                 2 Adults + 2 kids as a side dish

Ingredients:

1 onion
Splash of vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cumin
Salt, to taste
150g red lentils
400mls boiling water
About 10 curry leaves (optional)

  1. Fry the chopped onion over a medium heat for 5 minutes until the onion has started to turn translucent. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute, making sure the garlic doesn’t brown.
  2. Add the spices, salt and the red lentils and quickly give it a stir to combine everything, then add the water. Add the curry leaves (if using).
  3. Turn the heat down low and let it gently bubble, giving it a stir every ten mins or so. You might need to add a splash of water if the lentils look a bit dry
  4. The lentils should be cooked after half an hour after which time they will start to break down and turn a bit mushy.

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I’d really recommend you have a go with this, and get experimenting with different spice mixtures.  It really is a great way of eating lentils.