Saturday, 22 November 2014

Naans, Parathas, Santa logs and Pumpkin Soup

Flatbreads ready!
Courtesy of Blokes Baking group.
I belong to the Fenland Smallholders Club which provides me with an excellent excuse to spend time with fellow smallholding friends.

As a part of this, a while ago I set up a Blokes Baking Group and last night we were attempting to make naan breads and parathas from scratch. I had the idea of buying in a takeaway curry (minus the flatbreads) to accompany our efforts.
At the last minute we decided to break with tradition and invite the Widows of Blokes Baking along too.

In fact, everything was a bit last minute. I didn't even look up recipes for Indian flatbreads until the evening before, by which time it was too late to buy authentic ingredients such as chapatti flour and ghee. Ask for these in Holbeach Tesco and you'll invariably be met with a very puzzled look! Not to worry, I could make the ghee and the flour could be substituted. On the plus side, they did have Indian lager on special, so multiculturalism is alive and well in these here parts.
The only other ingredient I was short of was garam masala, a mix of spices commonly used in Indian cookery.
I was lucky enough to find some of this on the shelves, but baulked at the price - £1.75 for a little jar. You've got to be kidding! So instead I took a photo of the ingredients and ground my own when I got home, all from whole spices. The result was a fragrant and spicy powder which did an excellent impression of garam masala. So that's another product I won't be buying in the future.

So, back to the Blokes Baking. One of the naan recipes used yeast and a double rise. If we started this process at the usual time, we would need to eat at about 10pm. So I did all the prep work before the others arrived.

Bring on the feast!
I found the recipes on Youtube - search for Titli's Busy Kitchen for some excellent recipes. They are even accompanied by some very clear videos and Titli is definitely a character. Alternatively, you can just click here.

The Blokes now work well as a team, so we divvied up the bread-making duties. Dave took responsibility for the Aloo Parathas and was most impressed when they puffed up on the hotplate. Phil took the plain Parathas, which involved a little origami to create layers in the bread. I took on the Naan breads. A keema naan stuffed with minced Shetland lamb from our very own fields and another naan recipe topped variously with nigella seeds, chilli and coriander.
We had the oven, the grill, the griddle and a couple of heavy frying pans on the go. In all we produced nineteen breads! And just as the last naan was going into the oven the takeaway delivery arrived. Perfect timing.

What followed was a feast of monumental proportions enjoyed in very good company.

Then it was up bright and early (well, Sue anyway) to make a giant pot of pumpkin soup for the monthly Smallholders Meeting. This wasn't quite in our plan, but we were asked at ridiculously short notice. No harm done anyway.
The Smallholders meeting was to be a series of demonstrations of Christmas crafts by fellow smallholders. Decorative glass painting and Christmas wreaths were not really my thing, but were still much appreciated. But what did impress me were these:

Simple to make from logs cut at an angle, some of these will certainly be guarding our door this Christmas. They may be my one concession to Noel festivities this year!

And on the plus side, when Santa comes down the chimney this year, he can stay on the fire!!

Sue and some of the other smallholders start their Christmassy creations.

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