I cook various cuisines at home and really try to feed the family a variety of food. Home made food is always so healthy and nutritional too. When it comes to home cooked food, there are certain preparations which we call as comfort foods. They are easy to make and always a pleasure to stir up.
I am still on my sabbatical as kid writes his X board exam at the end of this session and I’m trying to be available for him in his crucial year. I might like to take up learning culinary skills if anything comes my way but all that are speculations, I have nothing concrete to speak about as of now.
I have earlier posted a Spicy Punjabi Style Egg Curry earlier. I had attempted this version of egg curry on one fine Sunday morning when I and DH were to go and meet a few foodie friends from Chennai over lunch. The only one to eat at home was the son and to keep him happy the egg curry was made. I had made this curry using most minimal spices. I had used stone flower or dagad phool as one of the spices, and it is a spice which I rarely use in my cooking, so I was curious to see how the curry would taste at the end.
The curry turned out really good and since the kid ate before we left and gave it a double thumbs up, I immediately picked up my diary and jotted down the ingredients and procedure of the curry for me to try it again later.
So, I tried the curry again after a few months and to go along with it I made a Sheermal flatbread. Authentically a Sheermal has an egg in it but I do not like an egg in my flatbreads, so I used flax meal to replace it.
Sheermal or Shirmal is a saffron-flavoured slightly sweet, traditional, leavened flatbread that is found in various countries on the Asian sub-continent including Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. Sheermal is a Naan-like milk bread, apparently of Persian origins, and it is suggested that the name comes from the Persian word for milk which is “sheer”.
In India, this “milk” bread is predominantly found in Muslim neighbourhoods (another reason to suppose it came to India with the Mughals) of Kashmir, Lucknow and Hyderabad. The finished Sheermal differs in the way it appears depending on where it has been made.
One will find that some Sheermal is decorated with a lovely pricked rustic pattern on its surface, Lucknowi Sheermal is garnished with raisins, others like to use slivered almonds, poppy seeds or sesame seeds to top their Sheermal.
Sheermal is usually eaten as it is with tea for breakfast, or served slightly warm as part of a meal with a mutton curry called Nihari/ Nehari or spicy kebabs. It can also be served with Khurma/ Qorma, vegetable curries, etc. Like I served it here with an egg curry.
Either baking powder or yeast is used as a leavening agent in Sheermal. This version has used yeast.
Traditionally the bread is flavoured with Kewra water (screw pine extract) which adds to the unique flavour of the bread. Sometimes rose water (rose essence) is used. And some times cardamom seeds are added for flavouring when Kewra water or rose water is to be avoided. I used rose water in this bread for the flavouring.
So this version of Sheermal is flavoured with rose water, enriched with flax seeds and was eggless. The Sheermal turned out amazingly soft and we didn’t miss the egg. This recipe is a keeper for vegans and also for people who do not eat eggs.
EGG CURRY VERSION II
एग करी प्रकार -२
Preparation Time: 20mins | Cooking Time:25mins | Serves:3-4 | Difficulty Level:Moderate
Ingredients For Egg Curry4-5 hard boiled eggs, shelled
3small sized onions, roughly chopped
4-5 garlic cloves
2 medium size tomatoes
10-12seeds of fenugreek/methi dana
1-2tsp red chilli powder
3-4tsp coriander powder
an inch piece ginger
Whole Spices1black cardamom
2 green cardamom
a small piece stone flower/dagad phool
Method For Egg Curry
Hard boil 4eggs. Cool and peel. Pierce them at 3-4places. This helps the eggs to imbibe all the flavours in the curry.
Heat 3-4tsp oil and add fenugreek seeds to it. Once it turns slight golden in colour add the onions, 1 green chilli, followed by garlic.
Add tomatoes and cook them slightly.
Sauté and add cumin seeds. Mix.
Cool the mix and add ginger and green chillies to that.
Grind the mix.
Heat 2tsp of oil and add the whole spices, sauté on low flame for a few seconds for the spices to release their aromatic oils.
Add the ground mix. Mix properly and add turmeric, red chilli powder and coriander powder.
Add salt to taste. Let the gravy release the oil around the edges and then add about 2 cups of boiling water to make a thick gravy. Add the boiled egg and let the curry simmer for 10-12mins. Serve hot with rice or any flatbread.
“The Egg Curry recipe is been created for The Urban Spice and KitchenAid India Diwali Contest”.
Ingredients For Sheermal1tsp active dried yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2- 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1tbsp flax meal
1/4 cup ghee
1/2 cup milk (or more, as required for kneading)
1tsp kewra water (screw pine essence) or rose water (I used rose water)
A few strands saffron soaked in 2tbsp warm milk
Melted butter, for brushing
Preparation Time:15mins | Fermenting Time: 2-3hrs | Cooking Time: 3mins per flatbread | Serves:2-3 | Difficulty Level: Moderate
Method To Make Sheermal
Proof the yeast first. Mix the yeast into the warm water with sugar and set it aside for 5 to 10 minutes or till it is frothy.
Mix a table spoon of flax meal with 3tbsp water and let it stand for 15mins.
One may knead by hand or with a machine, I used my food processor.
Put the flour and salt in the bowl of the food processor. Add the yeast mixture and the flax meal mix and run the processor a couple of times to mix well.
Then add the ghee in two lots to this and again pulse a couple of times till it looks like fine crumbs.
Now add as much milk, and finally the kewra (or rose water) and knead until you have a very soft and slightly sticky dough.
Transfer this to an oiled bowl, cover with a moist cloth and let the dough rise till doubled in volume (about 1 to 2 hours). Press the dough with finger tip to check for a depression in the dough.
Knead the dough well and apply a layer of ghee over it and cover again with a damp cloth and let it rest for 15-20mins.
Meanwhile heat the tandoor.
Shape it into a rope and cut it into 6-7 equal pieces. Make balls.
Roll each of them into a roti of 1/8” thickness of 8” diameter. One can also use hand and spread it into a flatbread. Using a fork pierce at 7-8 places, across the bread.
Apply saffron milk mix generously on the rolled flatbread and transfer it gently into the tandoor. After a minute flip the bread and cook it on the other side. Cook till light golden in colour.
Smear with butter and serve hot.
The hallmark of good Sheermal is the shiny/glistening finish on the flatbread from brushing it with melted ghee or butter, so do not skimp on that, even though this flatbread is already rich as it is.
The egg gives the dough a little extra richness, texture and flavour, but you can leave it out if you don’t use eggs or replace it with flax meal, like the way I have used.
I have used a tandoor to make the Sheermal but one can try it on a stove top or bake at 180C for 10-12mins.
The stone flower has a very strong flavour so use it very carefully else it will overpower all the other flavours.