Monday, November 24, 2014


Sheermal or Shirmal is a saffron-flavored 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.

My friend here in Sharjah had introduced me to "Sheermal", which we get from the bakeries.  Almost every other buiding in Sharjah has a bakery shop.  We get all the type of Rotis, like Pakistani Roti, Aghani Roti, Roghani Kulcha, Lachcha Paratha, Sheermal and many more. And out of these I buy only Sheermal from them.  I liked the mild sweetness in them.  So whenever I am craving for some mild sweet, I go down get a Sheermal.

We from the "We Knead to Bake" Group are baking Sheermal this month.  And today is the last day for the post so hurrying up.  I enjoy the "We Knead to Bake" Group.  Under the expert guidance of Aparna, I almost come near to what is expected. Made Sheermal at home for the first time and it came out very excellent the frist time itself. The home Sheermal tastes much much better than the bakery bought ones.

I followed the recipe given by Aparna exactly, except that I have increased the amount of sugar used. Otherwise the recipe remains same.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp active dried yeast
3 tb.sp sugar (But I think maybe about 2 to 3 more tb.sp of sugar would equal the store bought ones)
1/4 cup lukewarm water
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup ghee
1/2 cup milk (or more, as required for kneading)
 1 tsp kewra water (screw pine essence) or rose water
A few strands saffron soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk
Melted butter, for brushing


1)  Mix the yeast and sugar in luke warm water and allow it to froth for 5 to 10 minutes.  Keep it closed in a warm place.  Check it, if it doesn't froth up then repeat the step again with another t.sp of yeast.

2) Take the flour in a bowl, add salt, the yeast mixture, the remaining sugar, milk and the beaten agg. Mix together.  Add ghee in two lots and mix, till it forms a crumble.

3)  Now add the milk and kewra water and knead it into a soft and slightly sticky dough.  Transfer this to an oiled bowl, cover with a cling film and let it rest in a warm place for about 1 to 2 hours, till the volume is doubled.

4)  Remove the cling and push down the dough.  Knead again.

5)  Pre heat the oven at 180°C.

6)  Divide it into equal balls and lightly coat all over with a little ghee.  Cover and let it rest for about 10 to 15 min.

7) Now using your fingers and palms shape each ball to a roti shape.  Keep it little bit thick in size.  You can also use a rolling pin.

8) Place the rounds on a greased parchment baking tray and prick the rounds using a fork, almost through out the whole surface.  So that the air trapped in the dough is released and it will not rise much when it bakes.

9) Brush generously with saffron-milk.  Bake in the middle rack for about 10 to 15 minutes, keep checking in between.  Once they turn to a lovely golden brown, remove them out.

10) Taken them out of the oven and immediately brush them with melted butter or ghee.  Serve warm.

Lakshmi Venkatesh

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kerala Christmas Fruit Cake

Kerala Christmas Cake is a very famous cake which has fruits soaked in rum and is flavored with spice.  It has a dark brown colour and is loaded with loads of fruits.  My dad and my son are very big fans of this cake. My dad often buys it from shops. But somehow, I didn't much like the shop brought ones. Used to taste too much of spice and was dry and only had raisins and very few nuts. So I decided to bake the cake at home.  The home made ones are soft, loaded with lots of fruits and nuts and has a balance of the spices.  I make it a point to soak them one month before I bake the cake.  I have been making them since last 3 to 4 years. And they have been always a hit.  When I decided to bake the cake I googled for the recipe. Read many of them, but what clicked me was Mariasmenu Cake. But she is using Rum to soak the fruits and nuts. Since I didn't want to use rum, I have use orange juice for the soaking.

So here comes the recipe for the Kerala Christmas Cake.


For soaking 
Mixed Dry Fruits -  3 cups (Normally I use apricots, dates, raisins, sultanas, cranberries) Mixed Nuts - 1 cup (cashews, almonds)
Orange Juice - 2.5 cups

Soak the dry fruits and nuts in orange juice about a month before you want to bake the cake.  Keep it refrigerated. Give it a stir once in 10 days. Remove it out just on the day of baking and bring it to room temperature before baking.  

For Caramel
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Water - 1 tb.sp
Warm Water - 1/4 cup 

Combine the sugar and water in a nonstick pan and heat it.  Let the sugar melt.  It will slowly start turning brown in colour.  When it is reached a caramel colour remove the pan from heat and pour warm water in it. Becareful since the pan and caramel both are very hot, it may splash as soon as you add water.  Put it back on stove and boil for about 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove and cool.  After it cools down, transfer it to a bottle and refrigerate.  This step can be done in advance itself.  

For Spice Mix
Cloves - 2
Cardamom - 2
Cinnamon - a small piece
Nutmeg - little

Grind it all together in a mixer to form a very fine powder. You can use a little of sugar if it is not grinding to a very fine powder.

For Cake :
All Purpose Flour - 2 cups
Baking Powder - 1 1/4 t.sp
Baking Soda - 1/2 t.sp
Castor Sugar - 1 cup
Unsalted Butter - 250 gms
Eggs - 4
Vanilla Essence - 2 tsp
Jam - 1 tb.sp


1)  All the ingredients used should be at room temperature.  Eggs, Butter, Caramel, Soaked Fruits all should be at room temperature. Pre heat the oven about 30 minutes before u want to bake the cake.

2) Drain the soaked fruits and retain the drained juice.  

3) Sift the flour with Baking powder and Baking Soda. 

4) Seperate the yolks and white of the eggs.

5) Beat egg whites till soft peaks form.  Keep aside.  For beating egg whites make sure the bowl is clean, free from oil and is dry.  Otherwise the eggs won't beat.

6) Nowbeat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks and beat.  After it gets fully incorporated add the vanilla essence, cooled caramel and spice powder and beat again.  

7) Now add the sifted flour in batches and mix it using the cut and fold style. Add the jam and mix again.

8) Fold in the beaten egg white in two batches till all the white has mixed up well.

9) Rub the soaked fruits in about 2 tb.sp all purpose flour. This will keep the fruits from soaking down while baking.

10) Fold in the soaked fruits and 4 tb.sp of the retained juice.

11) Pour the batter in a greased baking dish,lined with a parchment paper.

12) Bake it at 180°C for about 20 to 25 min and then bring down the temperature of the oven to 150°C and bake for another 25 to 30 mins or until the skewer comes out clean. 

13) Make a light sugar syrup and mix with the remaining juice.

14) Transfer and the cake to a cooling rack. Make some holes with the skewers here and there and pour little of the sugar syrup. This is to keep the cake moist.

15) You can store the cake in a box and leave it outside.  It tastes great 1 or 2 days after the cake is baked.  Pour the sugar syrup once or twice inbetween to avoid it from getting dried.

Try it out in your kitchen and let me know how it turned out in your kitchen. 

Lakshmi Venkatesh

Monday, November 10, 2014

Doughnuts / Donuts

I was introduced to doughnuts when I was in Germany.  Me and my children used to like the Aldi's Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts very much.  We used to buy it very often. Then I used to often wonder how do they make these soft fluffy doughnuts.  So, from then, I had always wanted to try making it at home.  But never got the guts and time, to even search for the recipe.  Recently in a TV program, I saw Chef Sanjeev Kapoor making these small round delicacies.  It seemed easy and required very less ingredients.  So then I thought of giving it a try at home.  And the result was very fantastic, much better than the store bought ones.  Since it was the first time i was trying to make Doughnuts at home, I made them using eggs and yeast.  Though when I googled for the recipe of Doughnuts there are many versions of eggless, yeastless and also baked Doughnuts.  


All Purpose Flour (Maida)  - 3 1/4 cup
Butter - 110 gm
Egg - 2
Active Dry Yeast - 15 gms
Milk - 3/4 cup
Sugar - 1/4 cup
Salt - 1 t.sp
Oil - For frying


1) All the above ingredients should be at room temperature.

2) Sieve the flour for about two times.

3) Add sugar and yeast to luke warm milk, and give it a stir.  Let it rest for about 5 to 10 minutes till it becomes frothy.

4) Till then beat butter till soft.  

5) Add the eggs one by one to the butter and beat.  

6) Now add the flour, frothed yeast and salt.  And mix.

7) Knead a little with you hands for some time.

8) Keep the dough in a oiled bowl and cover it.  Let the dough rest for about half an hour or till the dough has doubled in volume.

9) Once the dough has proofed, punch it down and knead again.  

10) On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a thick sheet (about 8 to 10 mm).  

11) Cut with a doughnut cutter or if you don't have a doughnut cutter, then use a big cup for the outer ring and a small bottle cap for the inner ring.

12) Place the cut doughnuts in a tray, leaving enough space in between for the doughnuts to expand.

13) Cover it and let it expand in volume.  At this stage, if you are short of time, then you may also keep it covered and leave it in the fridge, till further use.

14) If you have kept it in the fridge remove it and keep it in a warm place for about 2 to 3 hours till it has visibly doubled in volume.

15) Heat oil in a pan. To check the heat of the oil drop a small pinch of the batter in the oil,it should go down, stay there for about a few seconds and then come up and float.  This is the right temperature.

16) Put in the doughnuts and fry till golden brown on both sides. Keep flipping in between.

17) They will increase in size while frying.

18) Remove it and keep it in a tissue paper.

For the glaze

Melt the dessert chocolate using a double boiler.

Dip the doughnuts in the hot chocolate and place it in a sheet.

Let it cool down.

Store it in a air tight box and enjoy the soft 


Sheermal or Shirmal is a saffron-flavored slightly sweet traditional leavened flatbread that is found in various countries on the Asian sub...