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This griddle baked cornbread can help tie any Indian dish together.
- 2 cups finely ground yellow corn flour (such as Mexican masa harina; see tip below)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
- 8 slices fresh ginger lengthwise (each 2 inches long, 1 inch wide, and 1/8 inch thick)
- 8 fresh green Thai, cayenne or serrano chiles, stems removed
- About 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- Ghee or melted butter for brushing
- Combine corn flour and salt in a medium bowl.
- Combine ginger and chilies in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Add this to the flour mixture.
- Pour a few tablespoons of warm water over the mixture, stirring as you go. Repeat until the mixture begins to come together to form a ball; you will use about 1/2 cup of lukewarm water in all. Touch the ball: it should be slightly damp and there should be no flour at the bottom of the bowl. With your clean, dry hand, gently knead the ball into a soft dough, which will be bumpy, thanks to the ginger and chilies (do this in the bowl or on a lightly floured surface).
- Divide the dough into 10 portions and shape each portion into a ball. Keep the balls covered with plastic wrap or a slightly damp paper towel.
- Tear a large sheet of aluminum foil, fold it in half lengthwise and set it aside. Tear 1 sheet of wax paper about 12 inches wide, plus 11 sheets about 8 inches wide each.
- Place one ball of dough on the 12 inch piece of waxed paper (leaving the others covered). Press it into a patty, then use your fingers to stretch it as you press it into an evenly thin round, about 4-6 inches in diameter and 1⁄8 inch thick (shape may not be a perfect round, especially the first few times you try this). Gently peel off the circle of paper, lay it on a smaller sheet of waxed paper and cover it with a second sheet. Repeat with the remaining rounds of dough, stacking them between sheets of waxed paper as they form.
- Preheat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- Transfer a circle to the hot skillet. Cook until underside has a slight sheen with light brown specks, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip it over and cook the other side, 2-3 minutes (this side won’t get that shine; instead it will look like a parched landscape). Brush the shiny side with ghee and flip it over to sear, about 30 seconds. Brush the parched side with ghee and sear that side too, about 30 seconds. Slide the round between layers of foil to keep it warm. (The steam created inside the foil will soak the parched side and make it just as attractive as the pretty side.) Continue cooking with the remaining rounds. Then serve.
Point: Look for bags of masa harina (corn flour) in the ethnic food section of your supermarket. You can also find it in Indian and Pakistani markets, as well as Hispanic stores. Regular cornmeal gives a grainier texture and doesn’t hold together as well for making a spread.
More than 660 curries:
• Fried matchstick potatoes • Coriander flavored garam masala recipe
This excerpt has been reproduced with permission from 660 Curries by Rhagavan Iyer, and published by Workman Publishing, 2008.
Curry is the gateway to Indian cuisine. It is the backbone of Indian cuisine, it is the glory of Indian cuisine. 660 Curry (Workman Publishing, 2008), by Rhagavan Iyer, is full of easy one-dish dinners that dance on the palate, in recipes created from home cooking. This Griddle Baked Cornbread recipe is from the “Spice Mixes and Pastes” section.
Grilled corn bread
You say “Makkai ki roti” to a Punjabi, and he or she will answer: “Sarson da saag”. This the flaky, grainy and succulent bread is a must for scoop up mounds of mustard soaked in ghee greens, offering a perfect balance to the bitterness of greens. This simple food satisfies the individual who works hard, especially at lunchtime: all it takes is a pile of these breads, a mound of mashed greens and a few fresh green cayenne peppers to bite between bites of addiction.