Last summer I started my sourdough experiments all over again. Six years ago I had grown and maintained my first starter for quite some time but it fell out of favour one day and was finished off with nary a trace. In the intervening time interest in sourdough seems to have moved into the mainstream. When Pamela Timms shared images of the beginnings of her sourdough starter on Instagram, I got sucked right in again. It was the month of June and Delhi was at its hottest best. My starter bloomed overnight and fell never to rise again. Not given to quick surrenders I starting over, this time keeping the starter out in my cool bedroom at night and in the fridge during the day. In a few days I had Frothy smiling at me. She is very different from her spring-born sister from 6 years ago, as bubbly but less tart. I have had nothing but success with her. My sourdough bread game is still not topnotch but the journey to get there has been full of tasty steps.
Like most of us, I’m loathe to throw out stuff deemed edible. Maintaining a starter requires removing half and feeding it afresh. This ritual can be daily if you bake everyday or it can be fed weekly if kept refrigerated where it stays somewhat dormant. Weekly feeds suit my schedule. The sourdough bread is a labour of love requiring patience; a loaf is ready for the oven after 36 hours. The task is best scheduled for the weekend.
On weekends when I have other activities planned I end up using the extracted sourdough starter in pancakes. Unlike sourdough bread, these are very forgiving, need only an overnight’s advance planning, and there is no wrong-way! You can use maida or you can go the multi-grain route. You can add an egg or make them egg-less. You can make them classic American and serve with fruit and syrup, or go Indian with a spicy, savoury version. Whichever way you roll, you just cannot go wrong with these.
Over the last few months I have baked a lot of loaves, crackers, and rolls with this amazing starter of mine. Here’s what I did last weekend.
Sourdough Scallion Pancakes
(makes enough for 3)
The night before:
1/2 C sourdough starter
1/2 C warm water
1/2 C atta (wholewheat flour)
To the mature starter above, in the morning add:
2-3 heaped tablespoons besan (chickpea flour), or any flour of choice
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 C puree of scallions (spring onion) greens that have been blanched in boiling water for a minute
1 tbsp chopped scallion greens
1 beaten egg
1 tsp soy sauce
Whisk with a fork till combined.
Add a few drops of oil to a hot cast iron pan. Smear it all over with a paper towel. Drop a ladleful of the batter into the pan and spread it to thin out just a little. Cook on medium high till browned. Flip and cook on the other side. Serve hot with a spicy chutney or pickle; seen here served with green chilli thecha and mulato chilli relish.
Variation: Replace scallion puree with beetroot or spinach puree.
Don’t have sourdough starter? Here’s a guide to get your own starter going!