We had a newly wed couple join us for dinner last night. We were meeting the bride for the first time. Meeting someone new does bring in it’s own share of apprehensions…even the kids were excited. But, it turned out to be a wonderful evening together, we all got on well and the dinner was a success. It also took me back to the time when I was a newly wed bride in Assam. It is customary, back home, to go visiting friends and family after the wedding. Visiting and getting acquainted with friends and family, is not that bad, but the amount of food that is cooked in the bride’s honour in every house, (and at times, there are two to three visits in one day) , does prove to be too much for the tummy. Everyone goes through so much trouble, that you do feel a bit bad about saying no to everything that’s placed before you…the ‘come on, surely you can have a little more’, does take it’s toll on the tummy. But, now, when I look back on those days, I can’t help but smile at the fuss, warmth and love showered. I did fuss over the new bride too, but let her eat at her own pace
Now, coming back to the kitchen, there’s something about baking bread that gives me a high. And when I bake one, my fingers itch to make another one. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a bread veteran, but I have had quite a decent share of baking them. And I still jump for joy when I watch the dough rise, as I did the very first time I kept watching the dough with bated breath, checking on it, probably every other second. And the combination of bread with cheese is something I’m up for anytime.The following vegetables and feta swirled bread is one of those. Filled with an assortment of vegetables and feta cheese, this bread is a meal in itself.
For the dough-
3 C whole wheat flour (atta)
1 and 3/4 C warm water
2 tsp fast action dried yeast
1 tblsp Italian seasoning
1 and 1/2 tsp salt
a little milk for brushing the top and a handful of sesame seeds for sprinkling
For the filling-
To be cut into small pieces- 2 carrots,10-12 string-less beans, 1 green pepper, 1 yellow pepper, 1 onion, 4-5 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tblsp roasted and ground cumin
1 tblsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp crushed red chillies (more or less)
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
200 gms feta cheese, cut into small cubes
- In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the dough, except the water, sesame and milk.
- Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, and tip in the water. Mix together and start to knead to form a smooth and soft ball of dough. If it feels too sticky, add a little more flour, a tblsp at a time.
- Grease a bowl, and place the ball of dough in it. roll the dought to grease the dough. Cover the bowl with an oiled plastic wrap and leave to rise for about an hour or till doubled in volume.
- In the meantime, make the filling. Heat the oil in a pan and add all the ingredients, for the filling, except the cheese. Cook the vegetables till the onions are soft and the vegetables are not too soft. Remove from heat and cool completely.
Mix in the cheese and keep aside.
- Punch down the dough and knead for 2-3 minutes. Use floury hands if it gets too sticky.
- Cover a rolling board with parchment and flour it liberally. Place the dough on the floured sheet of parchment and roll out to about 12 by 15 inches. Spread the filling over it , leaving a border of about an inch all around.
- From the side of your body, start to make a roll, using the parchment to help. Keep the seam side down and pinch the open edges on both the sides.
- Along with the parchment, lift up the roll and transfer to a baking tray. Brush the roll with a little milk and sprinkle the top with the sesame seeds. Cover with an oiled plastic wrap and leave for about 45 minutes or till doubled in volume.
- Pre heat the oven at 220 deg C. Place the tray at the top rack of the preheated oven and bake for about 15-16 minutes. Cover the top with a piece of foil and bake for another 10-12 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and brush the tops with melted butter ( if you want a softer crust; if you like it crisp, omit this step)). Transfer the bread to a rack to cool completely before slicing ( I couldn’t wait, and cut it while still a bit warm.)
We had the bread with a simple dal to make a complete meal, and yes, we did love it.