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Eritrean Spiced Bread | Hembesha

This year Ava and I brought a loaf of Eritrean Hembesha bread to the annual Martin Luther King parade. It’s a random sort of thing to bring to a parade, but I’d just pulled batch #3 out of the oven and couldn’t stand the thought of the bread cooling down without being able to enjoy a still-steaming, soft wedge. There are few things better than a steaming-hot piece of homemade bread.  Hembesha is no exception: the east African bread is soft and earthy with whispers of garlic, coriander, cardamom, and fenugreek. The distinct flavor profile is great with hearty stews or even on the side of scrambled eggs (perfect for a savory brunch). That being said, hembesha is traditionally served in the afternoon with tea and a drizzle of honey and/or tesmi (tesemi is spiced ghee made with ginger, garlic, onions, and berbere) While original recipes decorate the flat loaves with nails, I’ve used a ravioli wheel (the idea came from the blog Yesterdish). I learned the hard way – don’t just score the dough – cut through 99-100% of the …

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Emirati Date Crêpes | Muhalla

I’ve had a lot of breakfast treats over the years, but I’ve never tasted anything quite like these whole wheat date “crêpes” beloved in the United Arab Emirates. Made with whole wheat flour and a hearty helping of dates, they are a mildly sweet  and wholesome way to start the morning. I call them “crêpes” because of how they look, but, in truth, they’re called “Muhalla,” and quite different than a French crêpe. For starters, these are leavened with yeast, whose bubbles give the muhalla a more lacy texture. While you could make these with white flour, the whole wheat flour gives them a rich, nutty flavor – a nice contrast to the sweet note provided by the dates. The dates are the real star of Muhalla. In the United Arab Emirates, dates are one of the few ingredients which can grow, so they wind up in many of the local recipes such as this one. They are delicious, hot, warm or at room temperature. Be sure to serve them with some yogurt, fruit, or even a …

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Yogurt Naan/Non

Any woman worth her salt is an incredible, complex specimen which takes time and love to fully understand. But even when you think you know a woman, she remains – at her core – mysterious. And so it is with today’s Tajik naan recipe. She’s made with a blend of wheat and all purpose flour, a healthy glop of yogurt, and not much else. She gets her shine for a quick milk and egg wash. The flavor is rustic, thanks to the wheat flour, and there’s a slight, yet definite tang, thanks to the yogurt. The fact that she’s cooked in a super hot vertical oven makes this bread nearly an Olympic event. Just watch these women make one of the more complex forms of this bread… for a wedding. Note the full arm “potholder” they use while slapping the bread into the oven. Did you see that? How gorgeous is that bread!?  Wow. Even after several focused, heart-felt queries into her nature, I must admit I am unable to replicate the intricate, ornate designs found on the …

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Bread of the Wild | Veldt Bread

Today we’re traveling to the sandy, dusty plateaus of of Southern Africa where you’ll find the Veldt – large expanses of wilderness, often filled with scrubby bushes and the occasional scraggly tree. Here, too, you’ll find prowling lions, circling scavenger birds, and hearty veldt bread – which pretty much means bread of the wild. According to the World Cookbook for Students, this quickbread was created by European settlers as a way to nourish themselves with familiar ingredients in an unfamiliar land. Since it’s leavened with baking powder, there’s no long rise time – just pop in the oven (or over a campfire) and chow down. No muss, no fuss. Spices like ginger, cinnamon and cloves give this rugged, dense “wheaty” bread a lovely lift. Much like Irish soda bread, Veldt bread tastes best when steaming hot, slathered with butter. So go ahead, set up camp by a Namibian sunset and enjoy a slice. Makes 1 loaf Ingredients: 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 1 1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 3 Tbsp brown sugar 1/2 …

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Simple Chapati

I firmly believe flatbread has magical qualities. It can revive dull dinner conversation during that gaping time when the food seems like it’ll never be ready. And, when the meal finally arrives, flatbread is there to happily house any number of visitors, including stews, sandwich fillings, spreads, dips, and cheeses. It can even make a grouchy baby happy again. I’m into it. Are you with me? Here’s the short of it:  I go to my happy place when presented with a steaming stack of warm, buttery flatbread. Today we’re celebrating Chapati – a thin, wheaty flatbread much adored in Kenya (with roots in Indian cuisine). Like the other flatbreads we’ve done so far on this Adventure (pita bread, naan, corn tortillas, chinese pancakes, injera, and laxoox), chapati brings on my mega smile. Those who make chapati daily – and there are plenty of such people in Kenya, not to mention India – they can zip out dozens of dinnerplate-sized specimens in mere minutes, rolling one while another cooks. They make the chapati so fast that even the first one …

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Grilled Whole Wheat Pita Bread

Makes 8 Pita Light, airy, grilled pita bread spells summer. Flip flops and ice water. Sunglasses and big smiles. Making this recipe just might help you get to know your neighbors. After all, the fresh smell of grilled pita bread is nearly impossible to resist. As long as you’re willing to share… So, let’s take a cue from the fine people of Iraq and enjoy pita, just like they have in this region (not only the Middle East, but the Mediterranean and also the Balkans) for millennia. Today, let’s serve it up with your favorite Middle Eastern food – falafel, kababs, muhummara, and tabouleh. Come to think of it, any way is a good way to eat pita. Based on the recipe in The Best Recipes in the World by Mark Bittman. You can also bake this recipe. Simply cook on a stone or cast iron pan in an oven set to 500F for a few minutes per side. Ingredients:  1 cup whole wheat flour 2 cups all purpose flour 2 tsp salt 2 tsp yeast 2 tsp …

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Laxoox

Serves 4 Have ten minutes? Mix up a batch of Laxoox for breakfast tomorrow. This yeasty, tiny-bit-tangy flatbread is a lot like Injera. The people of Djibouti enjoy Laxoox for breakfast with butter and honey. In the evenings they use it to dip and scoop and enjoy all manner of stews and sauces. Sounds great to me. Ingredients: 2 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 cup wheat flour 1/4 cup millet flour (aacceptable substitutes include rice flour or sorghum flour) 1 1/2 tsp yeast 1 tsp salt 1 tsp sugar 2 1/2 cups water Method: Let’s go to Djibouti. First step? Add flour to a large bowl. Sprinkle on the yeast… A pretty dusting of sugar… .. and a happy scoop of salt.. If you squint a little, it almost looks like the arid mountains and sandy-scapes of Djibouti … yay! Now, here’s where things get crazy. Splash on some water. Give everything a good whisk. Cover and … a) refrigerate overnight b) let sit on the counter for a few hours It is ready when it looks …

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Afghan Flatbread | Noni Afghani

  When cooked gently over medium heat Noni Afghani is soft and chewy. The yogurt keeps the bread moist, while the cumin seeds add an earthy flavor.  This comforting flatbread is ideal for sopping up Afghan dips and curries. Ingredients: 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed 1/4 cup whole wheat flour 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (1 package) 2 tsp sugar 1 1/2 tsp salt 1 cup water 1/4 cup plain yogurt, low-fat or whole milk 1 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra for bowl 2 Tbsp whole cumin seeds 4 Tbsp ghee or butter, melted Method: 1. In a large mixer with paddle attachment, combine flours, yeast, sugar, salt, water, yogurt, and olive oil. 2. Switch to dough hook. Mix for about 10 minutes, or until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will be moist but not overly sticky. Add extra flour a little at a time, if necessary. 2. Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a clean, oiled bowl. Cover and place in a warm spot until the dough has doubled in size, …

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