I don’t know about others, but I feel a sense of liberation when my maid calls her day off. My brain starts buzzing with plans of things I want to cook to make the most of her absence, dishes that I prefer prepping for myself even when she is there. It doesn’t include making roti. You’ll be surprised the lengths I’ll go to just to avoid cooking our daily bread. To keep me in good spirits Kumari, the maid, calls off often enough and I get to break the routine roti-dal-subzi meals. Like today.
In an ideal world, she’d take all Sundays off but I’m glad that she usually let’s me know ahead. This Saturday she informed me that she was planning to take Monday off. I started planning! 🙂 I finished off the leftovers last night. Today there will be pasta for lunch – the tomato sauce is simmering gently on the stove. I might fry some eggplant, if I feel inclined [later: I didn’t.]. Dinner is going to be vegetarian burgers with home-made buns. Lately, I have been on a pantry-cleaning mission and ingredients that have been around for a long time are getting special attention. Every bottle of spice, or blends, and every container of strange ingredients sitting around, is destined to be consumed before the summer is out. With the second fridge also chock-full, that might well be wishful thinking but I should certainly have a cleaned-out pantry before the year is out. Then I can look forward to stocking it up again with new ingredients from near and far.
One of the ingredients that has been sitting forlorn in the pantry is bhat, the black soybeans I carried home from my work-trips to Pithoragarh (Uttarakhand) last year. I tried a recipe for bhat ki churkhani twice but none of us took to this bean. It is bland, doesn’t soften on cooking, and we are too used to soft-cooked beans and dal that I just didn’t know what to do with the lot. One day last month, obviously feeling bright, I soaked some again. After cooking and tasting a few I was disappointed to find nothing had changed. 😯 They were still as bland as I remembered. Could I make ghugni, a popular snack in Bengal and Bihar, as Kumari was suggesting? I din’t think the garnish and seasoning was going to take bhat too far. The black-beans reminded me of the lentil burgers that I make. I decided to keep it really simple: just bhat, one potato, half an onion, and some seasoning. They turned out so good that very soon after I bought more soybeans (white-variety, this time) from the Uttarakhand stall at Dastkar to replenish! [So much for emptying the larder!]
I’m making the burgers again tonight for dinner with my homemade 50-50 wheat buns. I wouldn’t have it any other way, maid or no-maid. 🙂 These buns make the burger. Leftover buns can be fozen.
4 t active yeast
3 t sugar
1 1/4 C lukewarm water
1 C milk
5 t neutral vegetable oil
1 t salt
2 C maida (or APF)
2 C atta (wholewheat flour)
2 T wheat gluten (skip, if you don’t have. The buns will be a bit denser but none the worse for it.)
additional flour for dusting the counter
melted butter (or milk) to brush buns
sesame seeds (optional)
Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the water and let stand till frothy, 10 minutes. In a bowl sift together the flours (and wheat gluten, if using). Add milk and oil, and the yeast mix and combine to make a wet, sticky dough. Generously dust the work counter and turn the dough onto it. Knead, turning the dough as you do so, till you have a soft and smooth ball of dough. Return the dough to the mixing bowl and cover. Let rise till doubled, about an hour (in a hot kitchen, such as mine in May).
Dust the work counter lightly and turn out the risen dough on it. Divide into 10-12 equal pieces. Roll each into a flattish ball. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust lightly with flour. Place the balls on the baking sheet. Brush with butter (or milk), and top with sesame seeds, if you want. Dust with some flour and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise till double in size, about 45 minutes. If you want perfectly round buns, space them far apart so they won’t touch (like mine did) on rising.
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 10. Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden on top. Cool before slicing.
Serve with burgers of choice, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, a slice of cheese, pickles, and fries. These refrigerator pickles make an excellent accompaniment.