Baking | Wholemeal Crackers with Baba Ghanouj & Muhammara … dips of delight!

“If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t. ”
Michael Pollan

Wholemeal Crackers with Baba Ghanouj & MuhammaraWholemeal Crackers with Baba Ghanouj & Muhammara … certainly music to the ears and fun to make. The dips were finger licking good. The crackers turned out crisper than expected, a crackling good bite to them and quite low on fat. I was thinking nachos but though far from them, the crackers paired quite nicely with the dips!

Wholemeal Crackers with Baba Ghanoush & Muhammara 3I was fortunate to win Ritu Dalmia’s new cookbook “Diva Green: A Vegetarian Cookbook” from a giveaway @ Health Food Desi Videshi! Fortunate because the first winner failed to respond, and I was the ‘happily giddy’ or ‘giddily happy’ second in line. Sometimes it’s good to be second! The book’s a winner!

Wholemeal Crackers with Baba Ghanoush & Muhammara I LOVE everything about it, not least that it is a vegetarian cookbook. Ritu Dalmia has penned a beautiful culinary journey here. The recipes, the narrative, the connect, the eye catching photography by Anshika Varma, the variety and the innovation all grab your attention.

Wholemeal Crackers with Baba Ghanoush & Muhammara The book followed me everywhere for the first 3 days. Never tired of reading and rereading the food emotional connects. I wanted to try almost everything from it. Vegetarian cookbooks are never easy. This one is a labour of love with a light, breezy feel to it. Ritu Dalmia’s enthusiasm and energy are quite infectious.

Wholemeal Crackers with Baba Ghanoush & Muhammara Since I’m on an ‘eggplant’ discovery these days, got an eggplant roasting early in the morning. That Jordanian Baba Ghanouj was calling my name. I stuck some garlic cloves into the eggplant before roasting it. Learnt that from my mother in this delicious ‘Baingan ka Bharta‘ that she makes. I kept my fingers crossed that the kids would dig into the dip.

bell peppersAlongside I had bell peppers roasting in the Air Fryer. It roasts them beautifully! They were headed for another dip, the Muhammara. That was inspired by a yummy bowl we had at a friends place recently. Reminded me of a batch I had made ages ago. Wonder why it took me so long to make some again? Muhammara is absolutely delicious!

Wholemeal Crackers with Baba Ghanoush & Muhammara Soon I had bowls of Baba Ghanouj & Muhammara on either side. Time for crackers and I randomly threw in anything wholemeal. Wasn’t too sure the kids would like them as they were on the slightly harder side than the ones I normally make.Wholemeal Crackers with Baba Ghanoush & Muhammara Into the house and straight into the kitchen, the ‘famished as usual daughter‘ announced she liked the ‘green one‘ a lot. From someone who won’t touch eggplant with a bargepole that was tall praise indeed! She didn’t need to know what went into it, at least not for now!

MuhammaraThe son loved the Muhammara as expected as I added a dash of smoked sweet paprika. He LOVES the flavour. He enjoyed the Baba Ghanouj as well. Both of them loved the crackers too, and asked for seconds. That was a sweet surprise.

crackersYou could always make some of these – Olive Oil Crackers {my favourite}, Rye Cheddar Cracker & Pizza Dough Crisps, Seedy Crackers, Garlic & Herb Wholewheat Crackers

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

Baking | Crazy for Crackers … Seedy times with the Daring Bakers!

“You see things and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were and I say ‘Why not?’”
George Bernard Shaw

Seedy CrispsIt’s been a cracker of a July! I crept silently into Daring Bakers on the 2nd of July dreading what I would see. We’ve had the worse summer ever, the hottest, coupled with extended power cuts and monsoons that threaten to fail. Imagine my delight at seeing crackers … just perfect for the season. I had a go at two of the four recipes – Seedy Crisps {ah-mazing} and Health Crackers which were good too, maybe too healthy, but nice with cheese and onion jam!Crackers

Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

Seedy crisps Seedy Crisps Delicious, light, addictive, versatile and simple to make, crackers can’t get better than this. I love baking savoury crackers; to date my favourite were Ottolenghis Olive Oil Crackers. These Seedy Crisps are now vying for top place!Seedy Crisps It was time to get a little creative as the dough was very simple to roll out. It rolls out really thin so I stamped out some fluted circles from the well behaved dough and baked a batch in my shallow tart tray. I was thrilled to see how well they came out, bite sized and perfect.Seedy Crisps for CanapesThe good thing is that these seedy crisps for canapes are make ahead, healthy and a great discovery! This was the part of the challenge I loved most, the gentle nudge that Dana gave us towards getting creative! The little canapes filled with a creamy cheesy chicken topping stole my heart!Seedy Crisps for Canapes Beautiful little bites! Dress them up as you like … fill ‘em up with a light chicken filling, or caramelised onion jam with blue cheese, maybe a mushroom – red onion olive oil filling, a salsa {peach, tomato, mango} … or get more adventurous and use seasonal fresh fruit and cheese. The pooch was uber delighted to get the little baked leftovers and came out of her bowl covered with sesame and poppy seeds. She is still as naughty as she is charming! I didn’t get a seedy picture coz by the time I grabbed my camera, Coco had made a meal of every last crumb! Crackers!!Red HarissaI used the red harissa which I made recently in the chicken topping and tomato salsa. I served some crackers with the Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam I make often … good choices for both these crackers.Healthy Crackers I have included the remaining two recipes below and will attempt try them soon. Our talented host Dana hasn’t entered the world of blogging but has been a Daring Baker for a couple of years. Cheeses can be swapped, flours altered and spices changed; I encourage creativity! As long as you a making small crispy platforms on which to add a myriad of toppings, you are on the right track, she says.

Pepper Jack and Oregano Crackers (Roll with pasta rollers or by hand):
Servings: Approximately 80 crackers
1⅔ cups (400 ml) (235 gm) (8¼ oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
2¼ cups (540 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) grated pepper jack cheese, firmly packed
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (1 gm) dried oregano
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (3 gm) salt
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (½ gm) black pepper
½ cup (120 ml) (4 fl oz) vegetable oil
½ cup (120 ml) (4 fl oz) water
Spice topping
¼ teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1/8 gm) cayenne
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) kosher salt
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (5 gm) sugar
1. Combine the spice topping and set aside.
2. Grate the cheese and put in the bowl of a food processor with flour, oregano, salt and pepper and pulse to combine. This can also be done by hand.
3. Add the oil and pulse until the consistency of wet sand is reached.
4. Add enough water for the dough to come together.
5. Form the dough into two disks, wrap with cling film and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
6. Heat the oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
7. Working with a quarter of the dough at a time, either use a rolling pin or roll out in your pasta rollers to 1/8 of an inch (3 mm) thick. If you use pasta rollers, ensure the dough is well floured so as not to stick.
8. Cut the strips into cracker shapes or cut out using a cookie cutter.
Transfer to a parchment lined cookies sheet and sprinkle with the spice mixture.
10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until medium golden brown.
11. Store in an airtight container and eat within three days

Cheddar, Rosemary and Walnut Icebox Crackers (form into a log and slice):
Servings: Approximately 48 crackers
½ cup (120 ml) (1 stick) (115 gm/4 oz) butter, well softened
2¼ cups (540 ml) (225 gm/8 oz) grated aged cheddar cheese (the better the cheese, the better the cracker), firmly packed
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (285 ml) (190 gm/6oz) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 gm) salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) (60 gm/2 oz) finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (1¾ gm) finely chopped rosemary
1. Combine butter, rosemary and cheese in a stand mixer and beat well (can also be done by hand)
2. Add the flour, salt and nuts and stir to combine
3. Form the dough into two tight logs and wrap with cling film
4. Chill for at least an hour and up to several days. The log can be frozen at this point for several months.
5. Heat the oven to moderate 160°C.
6. Slice a log into 5mm (1/5 inch) coins and place on a parchment lined baking sheet
7. Bake about 10 minutes until golden brown
8. Store in an airtight container and eat within three days
9. Try this recipe with different cheeses, nuts (or no nuts), and spices. Get creative!

CrackersIt’s been a fun daring July with quite the perfect challenge which has opened up a whole new window to creative baking. Crisp, versatile and popular, savoury snacks are always welcome, and I’m looking forward to trying the recipes above. I ♥ Daring Bakers!

Thank you Dana, and thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!! Do stop by here to see our  daring bakers go creatively crazy over crackers!!!

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

Baking| Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam … and ‘Snackuits’ {a product review}

“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.”
Etty Hillesum

Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam The other day I got a package from Britannia Foods with samples of their recently launched snacks, ‘Snackuits‘, which offered the promise of a break from baking; something that looked like the kids would enjoy. I must be a glutton for punishment because even though I was absolutely exhausted, I decided to make some Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam to go with it!Caramelised Onion & Garlic JamThe morning saw a tiring pizza session, absolutely delicious, but gosh, so much work!! Preheating the oven to make a batch of balsamic roasted strawberries for these Hot Cross Buns I was annoyed with myself. It was bugging that the oven was on, had some extra room and I hadn’t got my act together in time to bake something alongside.  It’s a happy feeling to know you can kill two birds with one stone …  catch my drift? Does that happen to you sometimes?Caramelised Onion & Garlic JamPouring in the balsamic vinegar I remembered earlier references to an onion jam that used balsamic vinegar but the recipes I recall were all stove top. Figured I could roast onions in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar alongside the strawberries. Something sweet and something ‘savoury sweet‘ …nice!Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam

Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam Garlic had to be in there because roasting garlic brings out the sweeter side of it. We are a garlic loving family. It’s something that just seems to make life better, even on tiring old days! Being in the kitchen, creating, baking, stirring is all pretty unwinding and relaxing on most days! Summer is here so I’m up pretty early much to the dogs excitement. She takes a chunk out of my earlier free mornings, but she is so CUTE that I don’t mind it!Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam I had those Snackuits in my head. Light, crisp cracker like biscuits would go well with a smoky oniony garlicky jam! If the crackers were a little bigger, they would make a nice base for canapes, great cocktail snacks. They do look pretty versatile, and taste rather good!!Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam

Tired of being bogged down with family chores and responsibilities? Now take some time off for yourself! Your ultimate happy snack is here to help you break life’s monotony and have some girl fun. Let your hair down and show people the witty-whacky side of you. Chilling out and gossiping with your girl gang, Snackuits gives you the license to show your fun side and break free!

Britannia Industries is one of India’s leading Food companies and a leader in the Bakery and Dairy segments in the Indian marketplace. It’s latest launch is 50-50 Snackuits giving every modern day homemaker the option of guilt-free snacking. It’s baked, has cut back on cholesterol, MSG, Trans Fat and oil. With flavours from gourmet food cuisines across the world  & the goodness of biscuits, 50-50 Snackuits has a unique combination of stimulating flavours that bring alive the gourmet taste of authentic Swiss Cheese, Chinese cuisine & Italian pizzas.

Caramelised Onion & Garlic JamI was quite surprised at these tasty little bites. The balance of flavours, the spices and the crispiness are certainly addictive. The kids gave them high fives and I have to agree! The market has recently seen baked chips making a foray, but IMHO, these have stolen a few points from those! My little bag of samples had 2 of the flavours Chinese Hot & Sweet and Pizza Italiano, both quite nice! I believe there is a 3rd flavour too, but that was missing from my sample bag … Caramelised Onion & Garlic JamThe portions are small, snack sized, enough for a single little bowlful. The blend of spices is good and both flavours were really well received by the kids, which I find really shouts the verdict out loud. I found them very slightly on the saltier side but I guess that’s just the mother in me taking note. I’d give them a 9/10 … wonderful tasty bites, handy to have on hand!Caramelised Onion & Garlic JamI served them with the Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam and the ‘now beginning to get pretty tiresome‘ pre-teen lapped it up asking for more. Did I say the portions are small, though good for the price {Rs10 for small bag}? A small bag of chips costs the same, and these were much much better. I would love to keep a couple of bags on hand … I really liked them!Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam

Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam Ran them past the ‘not so tiring any more’ teen and she loved them. Offered her onion jam, and she went “EWWWW. Nevah!!” After much cajoling and convincing, a little blackmailing, I finally got her to taste some. She enjoyed it, though hesitatingly said, “Would you mind not calling it jam please? I don’t like the idea of onions in jam!!Hmmm …Caramelised Onion & Garlic JamSo go on, if you live here in India grab a bag of these Snackuits next time you are at the grocery store and tell me if you like them. And if you aren’t in India, grab some onions and make some Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam. Make more than what I made because its pretty darned addictive and hits all the good spots in the most delightful way. I LOVED it. Sweet and savoury is right up my street, add garlic and I sing out LOUD! This did not disappoint!Caramelised Onion & Garlic Jam

{Disclaimer: I have not received any remuneration from Britannia or any agency for this post. This is my personal opinion on the product which I have reviewed.}

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

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