Coq au vin

This classic French braise is almost certainly derived from a peasant dish. It would have been made in a large cauldron over an open hearth and once an ingredient went in it did not come back out until the dish was done. Similarly the wine would probably have been rather rough and a few days past drinkability. I have tried to find a middle ground between the farm and the haute cuisine restaurant, eschewing some of the more precious touches that have crept into the recipe. After all, this was originally a way to make a “retired” laying chicken tender. I’m sure it is still best made with a tough old bird full of flavor. But, alas, such are nearly impossible to procure today. I like to use leg quarters rather than whole chicken because the breast meat of today’s young frying chickens is just too delicate for the long cooking this recipe requires. Although some insist that one must use a good wine for cooking, I find that a reasonable box or jug wine is just fine. Traditionally the sauce was thickened with chicken blood mixed with pounded liver and brandy; modern recipes use beurre manie. Rice flour works well if you can to make the dish gluten-free. Be sure to allow plenty of time for the chicken to cook, especially if you are using an older bird otherwise it will be tough.

Ingredients

 

Bacon

60 grams

2 ounces (about 2 rashers)

Chicken fat, butter, or oil

15 milliliters

1 Tablespoon

Chicken pieces

2 kilograms, approx.

5 pounds, approx.

Pearl onions

120 grams

4 ounces

Carrot, diced

60 grams

2 ounces

Celery, diced

60 grams

2 ounces

Garlic, minced

6 cloves

6 cloves

Mushrooms, thickly sliced

120 gram

8 ounces

Cognac

65 milliliters

¼ cup

Dry red wine

about 500 milliliters

about 2 cups

Dried thyme

5 milliliters

1 teaspoon

Salt

to taste

to taste

Freshly ground pepper

to taste

to taste

Butter, unsalted, softened

30 grams

2 Tablespoons

Flour

30 grams

2 Tablespoons

Method

Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F).

Cut the bacon into lardons, i.e. pieces about the size of matchstick. If you have sliced bacon cut it crosswise into 3 mm (⅛-inch pieces). Heat the fat in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and render the bacon until crispy. Remove to a bowl leaving as much fat behind as possible.

Turn the heat up a bit and, working in batches, brown the chicken pieces well on all sides. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium. Sweat the onions, carrots, and celery until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and mushrooms. Continue to cook the mushrooms give off their liquid.

Return the chicken pieces to the pot and pour in the brandy. Turn off the vent hood, if it is on. and light the vapors with a long match. When the flames die down, add the wine to just cover the chicken. Return the lardons to the pot and season everything with thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and place in the hot oven. Bake for about 30 minutes—several hours for an old bird. Remove the cover and return the pot to the oven for another 15 minutes.

Skim the fat off of the liquid and add to the softened butter. Mix in the flour to make a smooth paste, beurre manie. Stir into the broth and bring to a boil to thicken.

Serve hot over noodles or potatoes. Or, best of all, by itself with some crusty French bread.

Shameless self-promotion

Besides this blog I also write one of commentary on issues that concern me, be they international, national, or local to the Binghamton, NY area. Some may find some of the content controversial. That is fine because my intent is to stimulate discussion. I invite you, the readers of Dinner at Leo’s, to visit my alter ego at Moose Morsels, the blog from the bog.

Thai Chicken and Summer Squash Curry

Known in French as courgette, summer squash is one of my favorite vegetables. There are so many ways to prepare it from stewed into ratatouille to sliced and grilled or even just cubed and eaten raw. And, if you are careful not to overcook it into mushy bits it is very good in light Thai-style curries. I suspect that this recipe would most authentically be made with the golf-ball-sized green eggplant popular in Thailand, but this combination is well worth a try. Besides the aforementioned eggplant, one could use zucchini or any other of the summer squashes in this recipe.

Note that I use rather a lot of squash for the amount of meat. That is because I am cutting back on meat partly because it is better for the environment and partly because I believe recipes like this are more authentic with less reliance on protein. Feel free to use more chicken if you wish.

You can buy green curry paste and coconut milk at any Asian market and at most larger American supermarkets or you can make them yourself. Lemongrass is readily available in Asian markets as well and many supermarkets now carry it. I have not seen fresh kaffir lime leaves in my area so I use shredded ones that come in jars. Again, they are generally available in Asian markets and some American grocery stores. If you cannot find them, just leave them out.

Yield: two servings with rice

Ingredients

 

Chicken cubes*

250 grams

8 ounces

Oil

30 milliliters

2 Tablespoons

Green curry paste

45 milliliters

3 Tablespoons

Lemongrass**

1 stalk

1 stalk

Kaffir lime leaves, chopped, optional

15 milliliters

1 Tablespoon

Fish sauce

60 milliliters

¼ cup

Palm sugar***

60 milliliters

¼ cup

Coconut milk

400 milliliters

1⅔ cup

Summer squash in bite-sized cubes

1 medium (500 grams)

1 medium (1 pound)

* thigh and/or breast meat

** or substitute 30 milliliters (2 Tablespoons) lemon juice

*** or substitute light brown sugar

Method

Heat the oil in a wok or large pan and fry the curry paste for a minute or two until very fragrant. Add the chicken and stir fry until no longer pink on the outside. Bruise the lemongrass with the side of a knife then put it into the pan along with the kaffir lime leaves, if using, fish sauce, palm sugar or substitute, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is nearly cooked through—about 20 minutes.

Mix in the squash, making sure that they are all in the liquid. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes or until the squash are tender but still firm.

Remove the lemongrass stalk and serve over steamed jasmine rice.

 

Adapted from: http://australian.food.com/recipe/easy-thai-chicken-summer-squash-curry-200808?mode=us&scaleto=3.0&st=null

Sandwich Bread

Before I acquired a Kindle, I was a great aficionado of bookstore remainder tables. Sometime in the late 1990s in the Maryland Book Exchange near the University of Maryland campus, I came upon a stack of On Cooking: Techniques from Expert Chefs(1)at less than half of its $49.95 cover price. A cross between a text book and a cookbook, it is perhaps the most valuable piece in my culinary library. (It is still available, by the way, in a 2003 third edition.) I adapted—reverse engineered, if you will—this recipe from one on pages 796 and 797 of that book.

Since I bake bread in different size batches on different occasions, I have taken to converting my recipes to baker’s percentages which make them easy to scale. I also change them to metric gravimetric units that are both more accurate and easier to work with that conventional American volumetric units. You do not need to become completely fluent in the metric system to use these recipes; just buy a digital scale that reads in metric units.

This cookbook lists ingredients in both US common and metric units so I only need to determine the baker’s their baker’s percentages. The eggs complicate the process a bit as I will explain. The basic recipe is:

Water

340 grams

Dry milk powder

35 grams

Sugar

30 grams

Salt

10 ml

Active dry yeast

15 grams

Bread flour

680 grams

Unsalted butter

20 grams

Eggs

2

Before I can convert those ingredients to baker’s percentages I have to allocate the constituents of the eggs. According to the US Department of Agriculture, a standard large egg weighs 50 grams and contains 38 grams of water, 5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, and 1 gram of carbohydrate. For the purposes of this recipe we are only concerned with allocating the first two. You can either carry the remainder as “other,” as I have to make my formula mass work exactly, or just ignore it. I also convert the volume of salt to mass, assuming regular table salt. (Kosher salt has a different density so a milliliter of it is not the same weight as a milliliter of table salt.) And, because I use instant dry yeast, also called bread machine yeast instead of active dry yeast I reduce the amount of yeast by a third. So, the recipe with baker’s percentages becomes (with rounding):

Water

416 grams

61%

Dry milk powder

35 grams

5%

Sugar

30 grams

4%

Salt

12 grams

2%

Instant dry yeast

10 grams

1%

Bread flour

680 grams

100%

Fat

30 grams

4%

Egg “other”

14 grams

2%

Formula percentage

179%

Today I want to make four 500-grams loaves, so my formula mass is 2000g. Dividing that by the formula percentage, 179%, gives the amount of flour I will need: 1117 grams. Applying the baker’s percentages, I figure out how much of the other ingredients I need:

Water

61%

681 grams

Dry milk powder

5%

56 grams

Sugar

4%

45 grams

Salt

2%

22 grams

Instant dry yeast

1%

11 grams

Bread flour

100%

1117 grams

Fat

4%

45 grams

Egg “other”

2%

22 grams

Since I know that each egg contains 7 grams of “other,” this tells me that I need three eggs. Those eggs contribute 114 grams of water and 15 grams of fat so I have to adjust the amount of water and butter accordingly. I also like to use about 15% whole wheat flour. And my final recipe is (with Imperial equivalents):

Ingredients

 

Water

567 grams

20 ounces

Dry milk powder

56 grams

½ cup

Sugar

45 grams

¼ cup

Salt

22 grams

1 Tablespoon + ½ teaspoon

Instant dry yeast

11 grams

4 teaspoons

Whole wheat flour

167 grams

1⅓ cups

Bread flour

950 grams

7½ cups

Unsalted butter, melted

30 grams

2 Tablespoons

Eggs

3 large

3 large

Method

Weight each ingredient into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Knead for about 10 minutes on the recommended power setting. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface—it will be rather sticky—and with floured hands form into a ball.  

Warm a large, heavy earthenware or glass bowl with hot water then dry and pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom. Place the dough into the bowl and roll it around so that it is evenly coated with the oil. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap set directly on the dough and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Set aside to proof until doubled in size, about one to one and a half hours depending on the temperature.

At the end of proofing, punch down the dough and divide it into four equal parts. Form the loaves and place them in lightly-oiled pans. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again until the dough is just above the sides of the pan.

Bake in a preheated 200°C (390°F) oven to 400°F (205°C) for about 35 minutes. (I use the convect pastry setting on my convection oven). The best way to determine doneness is with a thermometer; the center of the loaf should be between 95°C (200°F) and 100°C (212°F).


[1]Sarah R. Labensky and Alan M. Hause, On Cooking: Techniques from Expert Chefs (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall: 1995).

Onion/Dill Rye Bread

A reader pointed out that this recipe had an error. This is the corrected version.

The other day I had the thought of making bread with yogurt. Most of the recipes I found on the Internet seemed to over-compensate for the tartness of the yogurt with massive amounts of sweetener—one called for a quarter cup of honey in a one and a half pound loaf. I adapted this recipe from one calling for sour cream, onion, and dill. I added some rye flour because that seemed to me to be a good match for the dill. The result was a somewhat dense but very tasty bread that toasts nicely. The recipe here is a work in progress so let me know how yours works out.

Note: the metric and imperial units are internally consistent but not necessarily interchangeable. 

Yield: two medium loaves

Ingredients

 

Rye flour

100 grams

3½ ounces (about 1cup)

Bread flour

400 grams

13 ounces (about 3 cups)

Yogurt

150 grams

½ cup

Warm water

200 milliliters

Generous ¾ cup

Sugar

15 grams

1 Tablespoon

Salt

10 grams

2 teaspoons

Active dry yeast*

15 grams

½ ounce (2 envelopes)

Canola oil or melted unsalted butter

30 grams

2 Tablespoons

Dried minced onion

15 grams

2 Tablespoons

Dried dill leaves

2 grams (15 milliliters)

1 Tablespoon

* or 10 grams (1 Tablespoon) instant dry yeast

Method

Weigh the flours into a bowl. In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer combine the yogurt and warm water using the paddle beater. Add the sugar, yeast, salt, onion, dill, and about a quarter of the flour. Beat gently until smooth.

Replace the paddle beater with the dough hook. Add the remaining flour to the bowl. Knead on the recommended speed setting for your mixer. After about five minutes the dough should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl. If it does not, add more flour a bit at a time until it does or, if the dough does not come together, add a bit of water. Knead for a further five minutes.

At this point I like to weigh the dough to make dividing it later more accurate.

Warm a large, heavy earthenware or glass bowl with hot water then dry and pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom. Form the dough into a large ball, place it in the bowl, and roll it around so that it is evenly coated with the oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside to proof until doubled in size, about one to one and a half hours depending on the temperature. At the end of proofing, punch down the dough and divide it into whatever size loaves you prefer. Form the loaves and place them into lightly-oiled pans. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again until the dough is just above the sides of the pan.

Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C) for small loaves or 375°F (190°C) for large ones (I use the convect pastry setting on my convection oven at 375°). Bake for 35 minutes for small loaves to 50 minutes for large ones. The best way to determine doneness is with a thermometer; the center of the loaf should be between 200°F and 210°F (93°C and 99°C).

Sourdough Hamburger Buns

This is an example of how to reverse engineer a recipe and convert it to sourdough. I started with the recipe for beautiful burger buns on the King Arthur Flour Web site. That recipe calls for:

¾ to 1 cup lukewarm water

2 tablespoons butter

1 large egg

3½  cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

¼ cup sugar

1¼ teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon instant yeast

 

The King Arthur Flour Web site conveniently converts this to grams, more or less:

170 to 227g lukewarm water

28g butter

1 large egg

418g King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

50g sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon instant yeast

 

I split the difference with the water and, considering the water in the egg, came up with a hydration ratio of 57%. The amount of sugar seemed excessive so I cut it in half. The basic recipe with baker’s percentages, then, is:

Flour

418 grams

100%

Water

239 grams

57%

Egg

39 grams

9%

Water

200 grams

48%

Sugar

25 grams

6%

Salt

9 grams

2%

Instant dry yeast

9 grams

2%

 

The total recipe mass of 711 grams yields eight 3⅛ ounce buns. I decided to make mine a bit bigger, 100 grams (3½ ounces), so I had to scale the recipe. Dividing my desired recipe mass of 800 grams by the sum of the baker’s percentages, 167%, gave me the amount of flour I needed, 479 grams, which I rounded up and from which I calculated my new recipe quantities:

Flour

480 grams

100%

Water

273 grams

57%

Egg

39 grams

8%

Water

234 grams

49%

Sugar

29 grams

6%

Salt

10 grams

2%

Instant dry yeast

10 grams

2%

Converting the recipe to sourdough is simply a matter of replacing part of the flour and water with sourdough starter and reducing the amount yeast—or, if you are a purist and are patient enough to let the dough rise overnight, eliminating it altogether; I cut the amount in half. I chose, rather arbitrarily, to use 300 grams of freshly-fed 100% hydration starter which contributed 150 grams each of flour and water. The final recipe is thus—with the usual caveat that the Imperial unit equivalents are inexact:

Ingredients

 

Sourdough starter

300 grams

Generous cup

Water

84 grams

⅓ cup

Egg, lightly beaten

1 large

1 large

Bread flour

330 grams

2¾ cups

Sugar

29 grams

7 teaspoons

Salt

10 grams

4 teaspoons

Instant dry yeast

5 grams

2 teaspoons

Method

Put all the ingredients into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer in the order presented. Knead on the recommended speed setting for your mixer for about five minutes after the dough comes together. Scoop the dough onto a lightly floured surface and, with floured hands, knead lightly and form into a ball. It will be quite sticky.

Warm a large, heavy earthenware or glass bowl with hot water then dry and pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom. Place the ball of dough it in the bowl and roll it around so that it is evenly coated with the oil. Put a piece of plastic wrap loosely directly on the dough, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and set aside to proof until doubled in size, about one and a half to two hours depending on the temperature.

At the end of proofing, punch down the dough and divide it into eight equal portions. Roll each into a ball, then flatten with your hand into a disk about 9 cm (3¼”) in diameter. Place onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again until the buns are nearly 2 cm (1 inch) thick.

Bake in a 190°C (375°F) oven to for about 15 to 18 minutes. The best way to determine doneness is with a thermometer; the center of the buns should be between 90°C and 95°C (195°F and 200°F).

Light Honey-Wheat Bread

This simple yeast bread is excellent for toasting. It makes good sandwiches, too, if you like them slightly sweet. I present the recipe first in baker’s percentages for those who wish to scale it easily. The quantities make four 500-gram loaves—my usual batch. As usual, I use gravimetric metric units when baking. Use the volumetric English measures at your peril—I cannot vouch for their absolute accuracy.  

Basic Recipe

Flour

100%

White bread flour

82%

Whole wheat flour

18%

Water

62%

Non-fat dry milk

5%

Honey

5%

Oil

3%

Salt

2%

Instant dry yeast

1%

Ingredients

 

Warm water

700 grams

3 cups + 2 Tablespoons

Dry milk powder

56 grams

Scant ½ cup

Honey

56 grams

2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons

Salt

23 grams

4 teaspoons

Instant dry or rapid rise yeast

11 grams

2 envelopes

Canola oil or melted unsalted butter

34 grams

2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon

Whole wheat flour

200 grams

1⅔ cups

Unbleached white bread flour

929 grams

7¼ cups

Method

Put all the ingredients except the flour into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Stir to combine. Add the flours and knead on the recommended speed setting for your mixer for five to seven minutes. Scoop the dough onto a lightly floured surface and, with floured hands, knead lightly and form into a ball.

I like to weigh the dough at this point to make dividing into loaves easier. It should be close to 2000 grams.

Warm a large, heavy earthenware or glass bowl with hot water then dry and pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom. Place the ball of dough it in the bowl, and roll it around so that it is evenly coated with the oil. Put a piece of plastic wrap loosely directly on the dough, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and set aside to proof until doubled in size, about one to one and a half hours depending on the temperature.

At the end of proofing punch down the dough and divide it into four equal portions. Form the loaves and place them in the bread pans, lightly oiled unless non-stick. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again until the dough is about 2 cm (1 inch) above the sides of the pan.

Bake in a 190°C (375°F) oven to for about 35 minutes. The best way to determine doneness is with a thermometer; the center of the loaf should be between 90°C and 95°C (195°F and 200°F).

Sourdough Multigrain Toasting Bread

For a while now I have been experimenting with multigrain sourdough bread. I started with a recipe from the King Arthur Flour Web Site that I tweaked and scaled up with varying degrees of success.  Finally I decided to reverse-engineer the recipe and build my own version from scratch. Using the metric unit option on the web site and converting volumetric units to weight gave me this basic list of ingredients:

Sourdough starter

156 grams

Water

152 grams

Oil

14 grams

Sugar

14 grams

Salt

7 grams

All-purpose flour

163 to 177 grams

Potato flour

43 grams

Whole wheat flour

57 grams

Instant dry yeast

6 grams

 

Averaging out the weight of all-purpose flour and assuming 100% hydration sourdough starter containing all-purpose flour I came up with the following baker’s percentages:

Flour

348 grams

100%

All-purpose flour

248 grams

71%

Potato flour

43 grams

12%

Whole wheat flour

57 grams

17%

Water

230 grams

67%

Oil

14 grams

4%

Sugar

14 grams

4%

Salt

7 grams

2%

Instant dry yeast

6 grams

1.7%

 

That showed me that the formula mass fraction is 1.78. So, to make four 500 grams loaves, as is my wont, I would need to start with 1123 grams of flour (2000/1.78).

In designing my own recipe I began, somewhat arbitrarily, with 250 grams of sourdough started and I used a somewhat different mix of flours. I reduced the amount of sugar and yeast a bit. I also added a couple eggs, adjusting the amount of water and oil accordingly. (Eggs are 76% water and 9.5% fat.) Also, the formula mass changed a bit so I had to increase the amount of flour to compensate. I confess that I did not weigh out each type of flour individually. I simply zeroed the scale under my mixing bowl then added ⅓-cup scoops of each flour—two for the whole wheat—and poured in bread flour until I had a total of 1136 grams.

As usual, note that the metric and English measures are roughly equivalent but not identical. Use one or the other but do not mix them up. I use metric quantities so those are the ones I can vouch for.

Ingredients

 

Sourdough starter

250 grams

1 cup

Warm water (45°C, 100°F)

550 milliliters

2¼ cups

Sugar

34 grams

3 Tablespoons

Salt

23 grams

5 teaspoons

Vegetable oil

35 grams

2½ Tablespoons

Eggs

2 large

2 large

Instant dry yeast

11 grams

1 Tablespoon

Oatmeal

50 grams

⅓ cup

Rye flour

50 grams

⅓ cup

Millet flour

50 grams

⅓ cup

Potato flour

50 grams

⅓ cup

Buckwheat flour

50 grams

⅓ cup

Whole wheat flour

100 grams

⅔ cup

Unbleached white bread flour

786 grams

6 cups

Method

Optional: put the oatmeal in a food processor and process to a coarse powder.

In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the flat paddle, combine the sourdough starter, warm water, sugar, salt, oil, and eggs on medium speed. Sprinkle on the yeast and stir in with a fork. Change to the dough hook. Add the flours bowl and knead on the recommended speed setting for your mixer until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl then five minutes more. The dough will be quite sticky. Scoop it onto a floured surface and, with floured hands, knead lightly and form into a ball.

Warm a large, heavy earthenware or glass bowl with hot water then dry and pour in enough oil to just cover the bottom. Place the ball of dough it in the bowl, and roll it around so that it is evenly coated with the oil. Put a piece of plastic wrap loosely directly on the dough, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and set aside to proof until doubled in size, about one to one and a half hours depending on the temperature.

At the end of proofing punch down the dough and divide it into four equal portions. Form the loaves and place them in the bread pans, lightly oiled unless non-stick. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again until the dough is about 2 cm (1 inch) above the sides of the pan.

Bake in a 190°C (375°F) oven to for about 35 minutes. The best way to determine doneness is with a thermometer; the center of the loaf should be between 90°C and 95°C (195°F and 200°F).

Chicken Saag

Every culture, it seems, has a dish incorporating chicken and greens. In northern India and Pakistan it is variously called murgh saagwala, saag murgh, or palak murgh: murgh meaning chicken, saag referring to greens in general, and palak being specifically spinach. Aromatic but mildly spiced, this is a south Asian dish to appeal to even the most timid palate. Try it with collards, kale, or even mustard greens for variety. It is best made with fresh greens but frozen work almost as well. Traditionally, it is served with naan but it is equally good with rice, or both. A dollop of yogurt is a nice finishing touch.

I adapted this recipe from Rafi Fernandez, ed., 1000 Recipes: Indian, Chinese, Thai, and Asian (London: Hermes House, an imprint of Anness Publishing, Ltd., 2009), 177.

Makes two servings with bread or rice

Ingredients

 

Spinach, frozen chopped

140 grams

5 ounces

Ginger paste

15 milliliters

1 Tablespoon

Garlic

1 or 2 cloves

1 or 2 cloves

Green chili (optional)

1 or 2

1 or 2

Oil or ghee

15 milliliters

1 Tablespoon

Bay leaves

2 small

2 small

Black peppercorns

5 milliliters

1 teaspoon

Onion, finely chopped

1 medium

1 medium

Diced canned tomato

½ 14-ounce can

½ 14-ounce can

Curry powder*

10 milliliters

2 teaspoons

Chili powder** (optional)

5 milliliters

1 teaspoon

Salt

to taste

to taste

Nonfat Greek yogurt

45 milliliters

3 Tablespoons

Chicken thighs, cubed

220 grams

8 ounces

* In place of a commercial preparation, grind together 10 milliliters (2 teaspoons) turmeric, and 5 milliliters (1 teaspoon) each cumin seed, coriander seed, fenugreek seed, and fennel seed.  

** Indian chili powder, called mirch, not Mexican chili powder, or cayenne powder.

Method

Microwave the spinach for about 2 minutes until thawed and cooked. Put into a food processor along with the ginger, garlic, and chili, if using. Process to a thick purée, adding a bit of water if needed. Set aside.

Heat the oil or ghee in a large, heavy pan over medium heat. Fry the bay leaves and peppercorns for 2 minutes. Add the onion and fry, stirring from time to time, until well browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and fry for another 5 minutes. Season with the curry powder, chili powder if using, and salt. Stir in the spinach purée and enough water to make a thick sauce. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Stir in the yogurt into the sauce, at bit at a time to make a smooth sauce. Add chicken thigh pieces, cover, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is done.

Sourdough Naan

Wheaten flat breads are probably the oldest baked goods dating into antiquity. Today they are popular throughout the Mediterranean region and across South Asia in many forms including focaccia, pizza, pita, and naan. The last are distinguished by the inclusion of yogurt that imparts a rich tang to the dough. Naan is traditionally made with atta, a durum flour that varies in bran content. I chose to use white whole wheat flour that gives the bread a similar texture but contains 100% of the bran. In my opinion, regular whole wheat flour makes naan rather gritty, so if you cannot find either atta or white whole wheat flour, I recommend ordinary all-purpose or bread flour.

Ingredients

 

Sourdough starter

250 grams

1 cup

Whole milk*

120 milliliters

½ cup

Nonfat Greek yogurt

80 grams

¼ cup

Baking powder

3 grams

1 teaspoon

Salt

3 grams

1 teaspoon

Flour

350 grams

2 cups

* substitute water or skim milk and 5 milliliters (1 teaspoon) melted butter or vegetable oil.

Method

Whisk the sourdough starter, milk (or substitute), yogurt, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl until combined. Add the flour a bit at a time and stir in with a wooden spoon. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, with floured hands, knead gently until uniform. (The dough will be quite sticky.) Form into a ball and return to the bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and let the dough rest in a warm place for 2 – 3 hours. (I use the rapid proofing function in my oven.) It will not rise quite as much as ordinary bread dough.

At the end of rise, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, again with floured hands, knead until smooth, a minute or two. Divide it into eight pieces—each should be about 100 gram (3½ ounces)—and form each into a small ball.

Preheat a griddle or heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Roll or pat each piece ball into a 6-mm (¼-inch) thick pear-shaped loaf.  Spritz or brush the dough with water and place it water-side down onto the griddle or skillet. Cook for about a minute until the dough bubbles and releases easily. With a bit of practice you will be able to recognize when the first side is done. Flip the naan over for another half minute or so. Transfer to a cooling rack and repeat with the remaining dough.

The naan can be served as is to accompany curries or other Indian dishes. Or you can brush them with a bit of melted butter, sprinkle seasonings like poppy seeds or minced garlic, and toast briefly under a broiler.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 217 other followers