Not too long ago, I had an opportunity to spend time with family in Oman. I was bowled away by the country’s natural beauty, the rugged mountains juxtaposed against magnificent beaches and the dates served everywhere. But somehow, I missed an opportunity to taste good Omani bread and it was an Anthony Bourdain episode on this country that got me curious. One of the first breads I came across was Maldouf, a date flatbread also known as a date chapati. The combination of ground dates and ghee sounded divine, something that would appeal to my sweet toothed parents and in-law, but the egg in the dough was something I wanted to skip.
I started with a recipe from the local paper in Oman, The Oman Times and tweaked it to come up with this. The dates add just a hint of sweetness, the cardamom makes it a tad bit exotic and the ghee leads to the flaky delectable layers.
It takes a bit of time to roll out the dough, but the end result is so worth it. Have it warm as it comes off the griddle or serve it at room temperature with a spicy curry.
15 pitted dates
1 cup atta (chapati flour) – you can use white whole wheat flour instead
1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp cardamom powder ½ tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp kosher salt.
¼ cup ghee
Ghee for shallow frying bread
Flour for rolling out bread
1. Soak the dates in one cup of boiling water for one hour and then grind to a paste with the water in a blender.
2. Once the date paste is ready, whisk the atta, white whole wheat flour, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Add the ghee and mix with your hand till it gets a bit crumbly. Add the date puree and mix the dough well till it all comes together and forms a soft pliable dough.
3. Divide the dough into 12 balls, roll in your hands till smooth, and set aside covered by a damp towel for an hour.
4. Take one ball at a time. Place on a lightly floured board and roll out into circle, about 6-7 inches in diameter. With a pastry brush, brush the circle with ghee. Fold dough from opposite sides to the center, slightly overlapping the ends. Brush some more ghee and bring the other sides to the center forming a square. Press the dough down, and spread the square into a larger one with 6 inch sides. Repeat with all dough balls.
5. Cook each bread on a medium hot griddle adding some ghee on the sides. When the bread starts puffing (about 1/2 a minute or so), flip it over and cook till both sides and have nice brown spots.
Indian breads are simply divine, especially steaming hot naans as they make their way from the oven to the table, waiting to be dribbled with butter and consumed with oodles of spicy vegetables. But there is a caveat – they use a ton of flour which is not keto friendly at all.
Continuing in the spirit of one meal for all family members with a special adjustment for the hubby, I created these spicy, mini garlic naans. They are totally yummy and pretty easy to turn out from prep to table.
100 gms of fresh mozzarella cheese, broken into smaller pieces (you can also use shredded mozzarella cheese if that is easier)
50 gms almond flour
One tbsp finely chopped cilantro
Two cloves garlic, crushed
3 tiny slices of habanero pepper (or chili pepper or any sweet pepper if you don’t like your food spicy)
Salt to taste
1.Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Put the shredded or cut up pieces of mozzarella cheese in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 40 seconds or till mozzarella is melted (if a few bits remain, that’s okay).
3. Add the almond flour, cilantro, garlic, peppers and a wee bit of salt to taste and use your hands to quickly mix the ingredients into a soft dough (see picture below). Set aside dough for 10 minutes.
4. Divide the dough into five equally sized balls.
5. Spread a piece of parchment paper (cookie sheet size) on a cutting board, put a ball of dough on the paper, fold the parchment paper over the dough and gently roll it into a disc about 4.5 inches in diameter. Gently lift the disc with a spatula and set it aside on a plate. Repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
6. Now take the parchment paper you have just used and put it on a cookie tray. Lay down the breads on the tray as shown below.
7. Bake on the lower rack of the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 minutes.
8. Remove from tray and transfer to a plate immediately.
To me, travel and food are one of the most exciting couples around. They are one of those rare, precious, giving duos that in tandem have filled my life with some of its most precious, memorable moments! And with all due respect, I rarely think of one without the other.
On a recent trip to San Francisco, it was only natural for me to think of the places I wanted to experience on the food scene. Tartine Manufactory bubbled up to the top of that list. A place that started off with more humble beginnings as Tartine Bakery, now has a chic, light filled, industrial outpost as well where bread is baked and meals are served. The teaser here is that bread is available after 10:30 am till it is sold out!
True to its calling, the place serves up the most delicious bread and baked goods. But I was also pleasantly surprised with the creativity displayed in the salads on the menu. As a party of six, we sampled an assortment of items.
Let’s start with the basics. The bread served with butter that contains specks of salt crystals is to die for. The grilled cheese is buttery perfection on the outside with a creamy, veggie concoction on the inside. And what’s not to like about the roasted eggplant flatbread? The most pleasant surprise came in the form of a tomato and stone fruit salad. Surprise, because this was a bread place and delight because it was the perfect amalgamation of flavors and attractiveness that left me smiling from ear to ear.
Here are pictures from our lunch.
The Tartine Manufactory
A carb lover’s mecca
The to die for bread and butter combo
Is that some grilled cheese?
The eggplant flatbread
My fave – tomato and stone fruit salad
You too can get inspired by their menu. Have you eaten at either the bakery or the Manufactory? If so, what were your favorites?