“I have never gone to the bathroom in my life that a small voice on the other side of the door hasn’t whined, “Are you saving the bananas for anything?”
Erma Bombeck

Olive Oil Crackers“I’m on a diet!!” she declared yet again, perhaps trying to convince herself more than anyone else. It was the typical troubling tiresome teen time all over again. The diet drama is into its second week, but is wildly swinging, and so is the mood!Olive Oil CrackersMost discussion takes place over the after school snack. Much to his delight, junior happily tries to grab the cookies off her plate. “I’ll take it if she doesn’t want it,” he charmingly whispers. One withering look from me, and the cookie is left alone, under her nose, tempting her, yet not quite. Then I sit and try and get her attention. “I haven’t eaten anything all day,” she mumbles. Do I sense self pity?  Low fat food

Then the Mama begins to talk, maybe preach. “Eat sensibly. These cookies have oats and whole wheat. These are healthy, eat them”. Home made fresh lime juice is grabbed out of the fridge and guzzled. How long can we stay hungry? Milk is given a withering look, yet its arrival in the garb of a strawberry banana  smoothie {banana not disclosed} meets sweet surrender. Slurrrp!! Game on! Next day… “Will you have some chocolate granola? It’s got complex carbs, no butter, well almost none”. “Yes please.” An orange is always eaten without a whine…she loves it! Vary the platter is my inner call, so it’s Orange Marmalade Oats Energy Bars on offer another day … always a winner!Olive Oil CrackersAll this drama got me thinking, and reminded me of these olive oil crackers. A sweet charming Delhi foodie called me a few days ago, was between jobs, and wondered if I would teach her to decorate a cake. ‘Of course’, I said. She was over a few days later. We talked non stop for the 3 hours that she was here. While the banter hung around cookbooks for a longtime, we discussed Ottolenghi The Cookbook, and she mentioned making the olive oil crackers from an Ottolenghi recipe off the net. She was determined to get herself a copy of the book as she leafed through mine. {I ♥ that book that Hilda gave me}.Cake deco demoWe had a great morning decorating her home baked cake. Nidhi is a quick learner and a wonderful person. She brought an eggless cake {she’s severely allergic to eggs}, and we gave it a dark chocolate ganache, a spiderweb on top, made a chocolate lace border and topped it with a fanned out strawberry… all in the span of an hour. She loved it!!The cracker conversationcame back to me a few days later when the teen said she was ‘still’ on a diet. Ottolenghi time again,  a cookbook I love to use. I’m surprised I never did these crackers before! They’ve become a staple at home. I’ve made them over and over again with different toppings. I substituted a little plain flour with whole wheat flour, and they were very very good indeed.  Toppings I used were sea salt, Tuscan dried herbs, minced garlic, pepper, sesame, poppy seeds. The next batch included garlic paste added to the dough … yes, we love garlic! Did I tell you I finally got my Thermomix? Santa got here late,  but in many ways, better late than never is great!! Making this dough is an absolute cinch in the machine!Olive Oil CrackersMade a roasted red bell pepper garlic dip to go with the crackers, spiced by a dash of home made sriracha type sweet chili garlic sauce which was finger licking good. For another batch I made a home made quark dip – tangy, garlicky and ever so creamy! Ottolenghi has the dough divided into 25 walnut shaped balls, and each rolled as thin as possible into ‘witches tongue‘ like shapes! I just divided the dough into 4, rolled it out as thin as possible, splashed it with EVOO, sprinkled the toppings and cut rectangles with a pastry wheel. I think this is a lot easier than rolling individual crackers, though the witches tongues sound wickedly enticing! You must try whichever grabs your fancy, and if you like crisp savoury crackers then these are for you! Healthy and addictive!!

Olive Oil Crackers

Olive Oil Crackers
200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50gm whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
115ml water
25ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Maldon flaky salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, minced garlic etc for sprinkling/topping

Olive Oil CrackersMethod:
Combine all the ingredients except the sea salt in a large bowl. Bring it together, and then turn onto a work surface and knead briefly until smooth. Wrap in cling film and leave it to rest for an hour in the fridge. {I kept a batch overnight as well, and it worked just fine}.
Line 2-3 trays with baking parchment.
Preheat the oven to 220°C . On a well floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll a quarter of the dough at a time, as thin as possible. {or you can divide the dough into 25 pieces and roll out thin tongues as described by Ottolenghi.}
Use lots of flour to ensure the dough doesn’t stick to the surface. Brush the top generously with olive oil, then sprinkle on the sea salt, or topping of your choice. Cut into rectangles with a pastry cutter.
Place the crackers on the prepared tray. Bake for 6 – 7 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Store in an airtight container.
Olive Oil CrackersThank you for stopping by


Featured as the Food News Journal Daily Recipe for March 28th, 2011

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

“Bread is the warmest, kindest of all words. Write it always with a capital letter, like your own name.”
…from a café sign

Yay…finally managed to bake bread. No mean task these days. We live in the so called millennium city, but have suffered unannounced power outages this winter from 4 hours to 6 hours daily, sometimes even more. It’s bad enough for a daily routine, but spells desperate times for the baker in me.
But bread I had to bake for Jamie who is hosting Zorra of Kochtopf’s Bread Baking Day #26. Bake something special for Jamie’s special BBD theme –“Baking Bread for a Birthday Party”! How could I go to her birthday empty handed? So began the search for a suitable bread!

Didn’t have to look far because my current obsession made me reach out for Ottolenghi… a book that is possibly the best & most used one that I own. The fact that Jamie also has the same book, adds to the connect. {Add Hilda & Meeta to this explosive package, & you have the Ottelenghi sistah’s!! YAY}.

My attention was held by the Sour Cherry & Walnut Stick. I just had to make this. The pictures in the book are moreish. Bread that called my name because it looked so artisanal. Fitted in with my ‘Ten in 10′ resolution too… as it had healthy flours in it! Of course we have very limited flour varieities available here, so I substituted a bit here & there. Was thrilled to see buckwheat flour in the ingredients. I had buckwheat!! Yippee…
The Ottolenghi bread is much darker in the picture cause they use country brown flour. I used a combination of all purpose, whole wheat and buckwheat flours. Didn’t have sour cherries so used dried cranberries instead. The bread was wonderful. I made it over a 2 day period. Did the first rise & kept it in the fridge overnight to get a quick start the next morning. Worked fine, though I think warmer weather will give me a lighter, more airier crumb & texture. Can’t wait to try it again!
It tasted like an artisanal bread, full of deep wonderful flavours, the sweetness of the cranberries coming out beautifully with the nutty walnut. Also tasted quite like the artisan bread Jamie & I had with our sweet potato soup at The Natural Kitchen in London. I knew she was going to love this bread…so here it is for her, with flowers!! Happy Birthday twin sistah!

Dried Cranberry & Walnut Stick
adapted from Sour Cherry & Walnut Stick, Ottolenghi – The Cookbook
160ml lukewarm water (not more than 30C; I used a little extra)
2 1/4 tsp tightly packed fresh yeast (or 1 1/2 tsp active dried)
1 tbsp olive oil
40ml orange juice (from about 1 large orange)
200gm plain flour
50gm whole wheat flour
65g buckwheat flour
1 tsp salt
50g dried cranberries (or sour cherries)
50 gms walnuts, roughly broken up into pieces
Oil to oil bowl


Put the yeast into the warm water & stand for 10 minutes, then add the orange juice, olive oil & salt. Stir to mix well.
Mix the flours together in a big bowl, and knead with yeast mixture for 8-10 minutes into a smooth and silky dough, adding a little more water if required. Knead in the cranberries & walnuts. Put into an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap & leave in a warm place to double.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Trying not to beat too much risen air out, pull the edges so that they all met in the centre to form a puffed round cushion shape.Using a long object, divide the dough into 2 equal spheres.Press down a little & fold one half over he other. Crimp the edges with your fingers like you were making Cornish pastry. Now roll this on th floured surface to create a torpedo like baguette shape. Lay it gently on a floured tea towel, cover loosely with cling film, and leave to rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes.
Heat the oven to 220C, place a bowl of hot water on the base. Roll the bread off the tea towl onto the baking sheet gently so as not to lose air. Use a sharp serated knife to give it 3 diagonal slashes, 1cm deep.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, till the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. (I baked for about 30-35 minutes). Leave to cool on a wire rack.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥
This bread is off to  Susan @ Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting!

The Ottolenghi cookbook is a celebration of tastes, texture, flavours, complexity, simplicity… so much. The glossy colourful pictures have the food leaping out of the pages, the presentation droolworthy. It is comforting, rustic and tantalizing! A book I have an instant connect with. Just my kind of book. Never have I baked/cooked so much out of a single book! Thank you Hilda.

We just had the bread for lunch…with this flavourful roasted bell pepper sauce pasta from Muneeba’s blog An Edible Symphony. I connect to Muneeba, her taste, her blogging style and her food, like I do to Ottolenghi. I know that whenever I stop by, she’ll tempt me to make something. That was the case with these Apple & Brown Butter Tartlets, and so too with this pasta. She said it was the fastest pasta ever…how true. I made the sauce while the pasta was boiling, and LOVED it. I didn’t have pine nuts, so I used walnuts instead. Worked fine!
Also used some garlic greens which I currently tend to use in all my savoury dishes as I really love the flavour this imparts to food. Lunch came full circle with Ottolenghi’s chargrilled broccoli made for the nth time on Mr PABs request. Never has broccoli been so popular in our home. (I made 3 heads of broccoli, all disappeared… & he’s asked when I’m making it again. YES!!)

The kids loved the pasta to bits, nuts and all. The flavours really come out deep and strong thanks to the roasted bell peppers. The sauce would have been redder, but I had 2 red & 1 yellow bell pepper, which explains the orangish hue! The recipe is adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s recipe here. In Muneeba’s words, ” The Pioneer Woman, Ree, being a cowgirl who is also usually short on time and needs to take a break from her typical man-pleasing food, had the perfect recipe for me. A pasta dish that came together in almost no time flat.”

Pasta With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
adapted from An Edible Symphony
based on Ree’s original recipe
Serves 2-4
3 roasted bell peppers(charred on the stove, skins removed, then deseeded)
3 tbsp walnuts
2 tbsp olive oil
4-5 garlic greens with stems, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cream
fresh Parmesan, shaved or grated
fresh parsley OR cilantro OR basil
1/2 lb penne pasta
Salt and pepper to taste

Lightly toast walnuts in a skillet and set aside.
Puree peppers with walnuts with a stick blender and set aside.
Cook pasta according to package instructions.
In a pot over medium heat, drizzle in the olive oil, and saute the garlic and garlic greens till soft. Pour in pepper puree and stir together. Add plenty of salt and pepper – for some reason this sauce needs it.
Pour in cream and stir over low heat to combine. Add the cooked pasta and stir again. Taste for additional seasoning if needed. Place pasta in a comfortingly large bowl and sprinkle your fresh herb of choice over the top, as well as lots of shaved Parmesan.
…Then smile as you dig in to this bright, cheerful and super-quick pasta… in true ‘edible symphony’ style!!

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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“Playwrights are like men who have been dining for a month in an Indian restaurant. After eating curry night after night, they deny the existence of asparagus”
Peter Ustinov

The North Indian summer is always unbearably hot, & is meant to last a month or so. That is how we are programmed to survive here, because come July, we welcome the rains with open arms & hearts! This year has been different. It’s almost August & zilch; the rains didn’t come. We’ve seen the monsoons fail…The temperatures are still in the 40’s, & the days are HOT + HUMID = UGH!! An odd shower now & then makes life miserable. This year, we’ve seen cities across the globe also trying to cope with high temperatures. Vancouver is bad, & so is Seattle. Melbourne had a particularly bad summer with record breaking high temperatures.

Days like these call for light fare on the table, which is what I attempted to do today. I had chicken & I wanted to make curry. Hot weather calls for light curry. Light curry, full of summer flavour … mint, coriander, lime! Lots of mint because my mint patch is overflowing… A few readers mailed me asking me about my kitchen/workspace. Here are a couple of pictures. The kitchen is my playground & I just love it. It’s a largish kitchen, very minimally done on a very basic level…but I still love it. It is airy & lighted…& on most days I have free run of the place. This is when my recipes are born on the go. I thought of making a chicken curry this morning. Something light, something flavourful…& something that screamed summer. The heat can get to me!!

Stepped out in the morning to find mint reaching out to me. The beds are overflowing with mint. Pretty!! So I picked some & thought, hmmm, this must go into the curry. With no specific direction in mind, I marinated the chicken in basics – lime juice, garlic,salt & chili – to get it going. Lime, garlic & salt make a great first marinade for chicken, usually a first step for chicken tikka, tandoori chicken etc. An hour later, I decided to get more happening on the curry. Summer = light food = lots of yogurt! Yogurt is always a part of my curries, but summer means lots of yogurt. Fresh coriander & mint also sing summer to me, so I held an immersion blender & blended the yogurt with the two. I blended some tomatoes as well just in case I need them if the curry wasn’t ‘up to it’. As things went, the curry was more than ‘up to it’ & the tomatoes were resigned to the fridge. Will use them another day.
Turned out to be a finger-licking good, fresh & tangy curry. Light & breezy, the good thing being it required no spices at all, other than red chili flakes. Just very basic pantry ingredients and fresh herbs in here to give you this delicious curry! I made it with chicken on the bone, but I think you can make it just as well with boneless chicken.

The kids L♥VED it. The curry conversation went something like this…
Mama, the chicken’s yummy! It’s really very nice & tangy. “
“What recipe?” (I think this generation learns young! I don’t recall ever using the word recipe till I was 16)
“None…made it from my mind as I pottered around… “
“What’s the name? Which book?”
“I said no book. It’s my own.” (Very unbelieving…)
“What’s it’s called? “
(Um mm quick thinking) – “Indian Summer Chicken Curry”…(which is how it got it’s name!)
“It’s YUM!!”
(Phew…talk about getting interrogated!)

750gms chicken on the bone
5-6 cloves of garlic; minced
Juice of 1-2 limes (about 2-3 tbsps)
1/4 – 1/2 tcp red chili flakes
Salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped onions (about 1-2 small onions)
1 cup of yogurt
Generous handful of mint leaves
Handful of coriander leaves
1-2 Green chilies (deseed to decrease heat if you like)
  • Whisk the lime juice , garlic, red chili & salt together. Marinate the chicken in this for at least 30-45 minutes.
  • Blend the yogurt with the mint & coriander
  • Heat oil in a wok & fry the chopped onions till golden brown. Turn the chicken into it & stir fry on full heat till light golden. This seals the juices in.
  • Add the blended yogurt. Stir well, allow to cook on high heat, uncovered, until the sauce thickens. Stir minimally to ensure that the chicken doesn’t debone. Adjust seasoning if required, add 1-2 slit green chilies & simmer covered for another 5-7 minutes for flavours to mingle.
  • Serve with flat bread or rice. I served it with wholewheat risen flatbread. A simple recipe I’ve made. Knead 1 1/2 cups ot wholewheat flour with 15gms of fresh yeast (dissolved in water) + 1 tbsp oil + 1 tsp salt. Knead well to a smooth dough. Leave to rise in an oiled bowl for an hour until doubled in volume. (I intend to add some mined garlic next time)
  • Note: The curry tends to thicken as it sits. We like it thick. Add a little milk & simmer to thin it out if you like.

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