Sunday, February 26, 2017

Phodi - A desi version of Italian eggplant parmesan (no parmesan though) :-)

It has been a long time since I shared the books on my night stand and the movies I watched, I thought of doing this as part of today's post especially because I am back to reading this new year and also have been watching movies fairly regularly. And timing can't be better with Oscars 2017 just a few hours away, right?. Well, I was writing the draft of the post (as you can imagine) earlier this afternoon and got to posting the final version only now (after watching the Oscars) :-). Did you watch it? Any favorites? I have only seen 'Arrival' so far this year, the others 'Hidden Figures', 'Moonlight', 'La La Land' and ofcourse 'Fences' are on the list, will get to them slowly, may be on the tube if not in theaters. But I am glad to be back to reading books at my old pace. Two of the things that make me really happy in this life - a pile of good books and a pantry full of raw materials. Books to help me in and out of any situation and pantry grounds me to the current moment, focus on the basics. I currently have a bagful of books on my nightstand and two of them are by the same author recommended by a friend. I also recently watched a wonderful movie on the recommendation of another friend. Both suggestions were spot on and I loved both the books and the movie :-).
A dear friend who is also a published author recommended William Trevor to me recently. I am always partial to short stories, I feel like a well written short story has the potential to make a greater impression in a few short pages than a long, elaborate novel. While novels provide a wide space and a broad brush to slowly and deliberately introduce characters, build the story line and express emotions, short stories do not offer any of this luxury but infact demand that the writer be totally convinced about what (s)he is trying to convey in the tight space. Only a very able writer can do justice to paint a lingering image within a span of a few pages of his/her writing. A well written short story can be very powerful while a badly written one can fall flat on its face. William Trevor makes reading short stories a pleasure and I am hooked into his style of writing and the characters he brings to life with his narration. Having finished both 'A bit on the side' and 'Cheating at Canasta', I am on a waiting list for his 'Collected Short stories' next :-). Thanks J for the recommendation, not sure how I never got to his books earlier.

Another friend S mentioned Helen Mirren's "Woman in Gold" on Netflix to me. With HM in the lead I didn't need additional push in the direction and watched it last weekend when I was home alone while BH was busy at some conference. Based on a true story, the movie deals with the recovery of a piece of art with a very intimate personal connection. As any work with the Nazi Germany, this movie has the power to put a knot in your stomach but I enjoyed watching the movie. It is still on Netflix and definitely a watch worth its time. Again, thank you S for the lovely chat and the movie reco :-)

Do you have books or movie recommendations? Something that you enjoyed spending time with? Share them in the comments.
Moving on to the recipe today, here is a deceptively simple and delicious snack, appetizer, side dish made with eggplants. Depending on your mood, you can serve this as a starter or main course. I first tasted this a decade+ back at one of BH's colleague's home when we went there for dinner. His parents were visiting and as R & wife had two young kids that demanded the parents's time and attention, aunty had taken charge of the kitchen. They are originally from Gokarna, the beautiful northern karnataka temple town and aunty's food was everything I had read and imagined from that region. The ease and skill with which she rolled out soft akki rottis and served them hot off the griddle for the ten of us while making it all look so effortless is something I can never forget. I most definitely remember calling nammamma that night and telling her all about aunty's cooking :-). After all these years, I don't exactly remember the entire spread (it certainly was a spread) but one dish that became an instant hit with us was this 'phodi'. She had made them with eggplants and potatoes and kept them ready even before we reached their home and served it along side the akki rottis for dinner. Yumm!!
Eggplants and I have a long history, it started with me completely hating the vegetable and staying miles away from it to decidedly ignoring it when it made its way to my plate to falling in love with nammamma's vangibhaath to enjoying the delicious gojju to totally changing sides with amma's stuffed vankaya. I am sure many of you can relate with this, it is not a vegetable that has universal appeal of the spuds but everyone in my family with the exception of DD loves this simple, nutritious and healthy vegetable. The only way DD eats this vegetable currently is in the form of this phodi and sometimes the stuffed version. I exploit that shamelessly and make this often so she gets to eat the vegetable and hope that someday she will be a convert just like her own mom :-). BH on the other hand can eat this phodi all by itself and call it a meal, such is his love for the humble eggplant.

Being an ardent Olive garden fan, DD called this Indian eggplant parmesan since it resembles the Italian dish in looks :-) but the name is misleading as the ingredients and taste is very different as is the cooking method. If you love eggplants and like the texture of tenderized/shrivelled eggplants and are trying to skip cheese and Italian seasoning, this is a perfect dish. Go ahead and give it a try.
What do you need for Phodi? 
1 medium sized eggplant
3 Tbsp oil
Spice mix: 
3/4 cup upma rava/sooji
1 Tsp red chili powder
1 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp coarse crushed black pepper
1/4 Tsp asafoetida
1/4 Tsp Turmeric powder
How do you make Phodi? 
  • Wash and pat dry the eggplant, cut both the stem end and the opposite end.
  • Cut the eggplant in discs of about 1/4 inch thickness and keep them immersed in a bowl of water to avoid discoloration.
  • Heat a heavy (preferably cast iron) griddle on medium heat and let it heat up (a sprinkle of water should immediately sizzle)
  • Take a wide plate, add all the ingredients listed under spice mix and mix them uniformly. 
  • Taste test a pinch and adjust salt, chili powder or black pepper to suit your taste.
  • Make sure the pan is hot, drizzle a couple of drops of oil and smear it all around the pan and reduce heat to low. 
  • Take an eggplant disc from water, shake away all the water and dredge it in the dry spice mixture to form a thick & even coating on both sides. 
  • Lay the eggplant disc on the hot griddle and repeat for as many pieces as your griddle can hold. 
  • Drizzle drops of oil on and around the eggplant discs, cover and cook for 2mins. 
  • I use a glass lid for this so I can see the progress of cooking from outside without having to lift it multiple times :-)
  • Once the top layer is moist and the disc looks a little shrivelled, gently lift each one and turn it over. 
  • Let it cook for another minute and half, add a drizzle of oil on top. Do not cover while cooking the second side. 
  • Take the discs off the griddle when both surfaces have reached your desired color and crispiness. 
  • These taste delicious hot off the griddle and equally yummy when they cool down making it an easy lunch box item or a make ahead item for a party. Just warm it up before serving. 
  • Eggplant tip: Select one that feels heavy for its size. Also look for seedless varieties of eggplants. Get one that is dark purple in color and is not squishy.  
  • You can use potato slices, sweet potatoes instead of eggplant
  • Cooking time varies with the heat and the thickness of the discs
  • Always cook this dish on low heat allowing the vegetable to cook thoroughly and not burn the outer surface. 
  • Covering while cooking ensures moisture is captured and the vegetable cooks in its own juices. 
  • It is important to keep the spice mix as dry as possible until you are done. Avoid water drops falling into it too much, if you are making a large batch, I suggest you take out handfuls of the mixture into a separate plate and replesnish as you need.  A wet mixture doesn't stick well on the vegetable. 
  • Do not skip asafoetida or turmeric as it brings a distinct flavor to the dish. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Gatte Ki curry - "padhaaro mahre des re" for a vegetable free vegetarian curry

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity - Simone Weil

"गाडी रोको ड्राइवर, चलो नीचे उतरो वीरेन और इस धरती पे माथा टेकर आशीर्वाद लो" (stop the car driver, get out of the car Viren and get the blessings of this land by touching your forehead to the ground) so says the graceful and gorgeous Waheeda Rehman to a young Anil Kapoor in the film Lamhe. There is no saying no to Daayeeja (nanny) and he gets out of the airconditioned car, quickly puts his forehead to the hot, sweltering ground and runs back into the sanctuary of the cool car. Though there are many indian movies made with a backdrop of Rajasthan, for me Lamhe holds a special place in heart as I learnt about the fascinating land through the movie. And bollywood has this power to paint images in your mind that you don't even know you were capable of. If romancing with a place is possible, I do have a romantic relationship with Rajasthan :-) Until recently, Rajasthan was part of this fertile imagination in my head that included a mystical desert land full of warrior princes, beautiful girls in colorful lehengas wearing bangles all the way up the arms, splendid havelis, picturesque locales, cold romantic nights and food beyond comparison. Having visited part of Rajasthan recently, I can say that most of the imagery still continues to live on though there are no princes riding horses or camels any more, atleast it is not a daily sight in the cities :-). The place lived up to my bollywood fed imagination and didn't let me down in any way. But there is a whole lot more to the place than what Bollywood lets you imagine which can only be found when you visit and become part of that rich culture and the colorful canvass.
Our India visits have always been about visiting family and so we end up spending the time in the same radius of cities that we always do :-). But this trip we decided to build in a week of vacation before landing in the midst of family. When you have a busy work life through out the year and 3 schedules that wax and wane at different times during the year, vacations are hard to come by and precious. So getting away for a week as part of the india trip was a proposal that none of us wanted to say no to :-). Visiting Rajasthan was on bucket list for a long time and though we started with an elaborate visit plan that included Jaipur to Jaiselmer and everything in-between, time was not on our side to do justice to such a trip. We had to skip touching the desert border and make peace with Jaipur and Udaipur. No regrets though, both cities offer a wide range of rich heritage, unparalleled hospitality and an experience of the colorful Rajasthani culture. So we basked in the offerings of the lake city and the pink city. Jaiselmer is back on the bucket list for another time :-)

A striking impression for me as a first time visitor to Udaipur was of the friendliness of the people. Everyone from the hotel employees to the rickshaw driver we hired to the folks in the stores seemed genuinely gentle and friendly which just made our day every day spent there. It wasn't just the tourism industry impact but seemed ingrained in them. DD & I smiled at each other every time someone would direct their question or response only to BH and not to us, there was nothing derogatory about it as they were very respectful towards us but the conversation always happened with the man of the family. They would easily make a conversation and always eager to plan our itinerary with helpful tips that only locals would be aware of and we took all the advise that was offered to us. We found the same hospitality in Jaipur as well though it is a bigger and more commercial place and more used to tourists.
The demonetization by Indian government was still fresh when we visited and most people were cash strapped. We didn't realize how bad it was until the bills in the wallet had gone spent soon after we took them from the bank when we landed in Mumbai. The daily ATM withdrawal was 4K and when you are a tourist and need to pay cash for every transaction, you really feel the pinch and quickly too as the money seemed to vanish the moment it came out of the machine. To add to the woes, most ATMs never had cash and we spent quite a bit of our vacation time on the road stopping at every ATM to try our luck. A sunday holiday in the middle of our week there only added to the cash starved tourist plight :-)
What I appreciate most about the human ingenuity is that we have this uncanny ability and strength to dig ourselves out of any mess, imposed on us by others or by ourselves. Our cab driver, knowing that we had limited cash that might eat into what we owed him at the end of the day, would stop at gas stations and let us pay for the diesel in the morning as we set out for the day. Almost all gas stations take your credit cards. This guaranteed that we would have spending money and were also able to pay him when we were done :-). Plastic cards are not as prevalent in India as here and most of the small vendors, artisans and road side hawkers have no ability to accept one. Our cab driver infact loaned us a few hundred bucks as we wanted to catch the light and sound show in the Jaipur palace since they wouldn't take the cards. He literally saved our day :-). Thankfully, banks opened on Monday and we were able to pay him back before leaving. The network of cab drivers is unbelievably strong and a well oiled machine. They send messages to each other on which ATM had cash so the clients could be driven there first thing in the morning and also had the inside track knowledge that the cash limit was higher if you had a non indian bank card. So everything turned out well in the end and we had a dream vacation to remember for a long time to come.
Though I liked everything about Rajasthan, food is on a different pedestal altogether. With its high concentration of people that follow Jainism, the place is a vegetarian foodie's dream come true. More than one person had told me that I would find the food delectable and very different but I still wasn't prepared for the taste until I had my first bite. The variety of ghee laden soft rotis (wheat, bajra, missi) itself is enough to satisfy a foodie but the curries served with it are a different ball game. Rajasthan being the desert, green, fresh vegetables are not easy to come by as in other places and it is no surprise that the enterprising people have found ingredients to make the tastiest of the side dishes without developing an enormous dependency on the vegetables.
Versatile potatoes were found commonly along with okra, however outside of these two vegetables the thali (meal plate) almost entirely made do with dals, lentils, besan to offer a distinctive taste in each of the little servings. Yogurt is the key player not only in the usual kadhi but also in many of the gravy preparations. It was easy to see what was going on in the kitchen since many of the places we went for dinner were outdoors and the kitchen was just in one of the nooks. Dal baati made the center piece in many meals and the one dish that is unique to Rajasthani cuisine is the gatte ki sazi/sabji/curry, a gravy made with gram flour dumplings in a yogurt/tomato sauce. It is tangy, spicy and filling all rolled into a single bowl and makes a great side dish for the fresh, hot off the tawa rotis. The preparation ensures that each ingredient lends its best flavor to the dish. Jain delicacies skip onion and garlic in their preparations and even if you are hard core fan of these two herbs, you will not miss them at all while eating a Jain dish.
I was such a gatte smitten foodie  that I ended up getting it for most of meals during that entire week and the taste was still on the tip of my tongue as I traveled beyond Rajasthan, ate other goodies, wrapped up my India trip, came back home and started eating our regular food :-). This past week was a birthday week at home and we ended up adding gatte ki curry into the celebration menu. BH said it took him back to the Udaipur dinner we had :-) and I take that as a compliment.

There are obviously many ways of making gatte ki curry and I found each bowl I ate in 5 different place across Udaipur and Jaipur had subtle differences, this is just the variations from one professional chef to the other not to speak of the umpteen home made versions. There is a Govind gatte subji in which the gattes are stuffed with paneer and additional spices so the culinary experience goes a notch even higher. When I wanted to make gatte ki curry on my own and in my kitchen, here is what I did. Stood in the middle of the kitchen, put on my thinking cap and tried to remember every taste bud  that had tingled when I ate this curry in Rajasthan, then marched over to the pantry to don the apron on self and got to work with the ingredients to reproduce the same, exact feeling at home. Ok, that was just over dramatization of what happened :-). What I have here is a really lip smacking gatte ki curry with a number of tips to get it right even on your first try. I am thrilled I was able to replicate the taste of Rajasthan in my own kitchen and can revisit any time I feel like.
The list of ingredients and procedure looks longish but don't let that deter you. You will find that the ingredients are mostly common between the gatte and the curry and also the procedure is simple enough once you get the hang of it. No complicated grind, chop etc in this one. Go ahead and give it a try, you will be a fan in no time I guarantee you.
What do you need to make Gatte ki curry?
For the gattas: 
1 cup besan/chickpea flour/gram flour
1.5 Tbsp oil
1.5 Tbsp yogurt
3/4 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 Tsp red chili powder
1/4 Tsp asafoetida/hing
1 Tsp crushed coriander seeds
1/4 Tsp crushed ajwain/carom seeds
1/2 Tsp Turmeric powder
1/4 Tsp kasoori methi
5 cups water for boiling gattas
2 Tbsp oil for roasting gattas
For the curry: 
2 tomatoes (2 cups when chopped roughly)
3-4 green chilies (adjust to preferred spice tolerance)
1 inch piece ginger
4 cashews soaked for 30 mins (optional and can do without)
1 Tsp cumin
1/4 Tsp asafoetida/hing
1/4 Tsp turmeric powder
1 Tsp red chili powder (adjust to taste) - use a bright colored one for the rich hue
1/2 Tsp coriander powder
1/2 Tsp garam masala powder
1 Tsp besan/chickpea flour/gram flour
2 Tbsp oil
1 cup yogurt
1/2 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
How do you make Gatte ki curry? 
Making the gattas: 
  • Take a wide bowl (so you can move your fingers easily), sieve besan into it to remove any small lumps in the dry flour. 
  • Add all the dry ingredients - salt, red chili powder, hing, turmeric powder, crushed coriander, ajwain and kasoori methi. 
  • Mix well with your fingers so hing (especially if you are using the wet variety) doesn't stay in one place. 
  • Add oil and yogurt into the bowl and mixing with your fingers, bring everything together to form a lump. 
  • Add a sprinkle of water if the mixture is very dry (depends on the consistency of your yogurt, I didn't add any water). 
  • scrape everything sticking to your fingers, smear a drop of oil on your hand and continue to bring the mixture together into a hard dough and knead it for a couple of minutes. Taste test and adjust salt, chili powder as needed. 
  • Keep a sauce pan with 5 cups of water on the stove and bring the water to a rolling boil. 
  • Break the dough into 4 equal portions, make a ball and roll it into a log about 1/2inch thickness, smooth the ends. Repeat with all 4 portions.
  • Now take the logs one by one and gently immerse in the boiling water, give about 30secs between each log going in to the water to avoid water temperature from falling. 
  • Boil the logs for 10-12 mins or until a tooth pick comes out clean. After about 5mins, the logs start to rise to the top of the water. 
  • Switch off and strain the water out, reserving it for later use. Let the logs cool down completely before cutting them into bite sized pieces. 
  • Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a flat, non stick pan, add the cooled gatte pieces and roast on medium heat until they get a coating of nice golden color on all sides. switch off and keep aside until ready to use. (Do not start eating them as they can be quite addictive :-))
Making the curry or sauce: 
  • Make a smooth paste of tomatoes, green chilies, ginger and soaked cashews (if using). 
  • Heat oil in a kadai/pan, add cumin seeds and let it splutter. 
  • Add coriander powder, turmeric powder, hing and red chili powder to the hot oil and roast for a minute so the flavors are enhanced. 
  • Add the ground tomato paste and let it cook on medium heat for 8-10 mins or until the paste looks dry and starts to ooze oil from the sides. 
  • At this stage, add whisked yogurt slowly into the pan while stirring constantly. Keep the heat on lowest. 
  • Increase heat to medium and let it come to a gentle boil. 
  • Add a Tsp of besan in a Tbsp of the reserved water and make a slurry. 
  • Add the slurry along with remaining reserved water to the curry and let it boil.  
  • At this stage, taste test the curry and adjust any spices to suit your palate. Add more water if you want the curry to be a thinner. 
  • Add garam masala powder and salt, mix it in and let cook for a minute. 
  • Add the prepared gattas into the curry and switch off. 
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with rotis or steamed rice. 
  • Besan dough is very sticky unlike the wheat flour dough, ensure you do not make a soft dough. When you make a ball of the dough and place it on the plate, it should not spread but hold the same shape as before. 
  • Keep yogurt at room temperature before you start adding it to any hot gravies. This helps to get a smooth texture. 
  • Whisking yogurt is also important to get a smooth texture. 
  • You can add the dry spices in the gravy later but I found that when these are given an opportunity to roast in hot oil, the flavors are enhanced considerably. Garam masala is added at the end for its complex flavor. 
  • These taste best with hot rotis but you can serve it with plain rice or a mildly flavored jeera rice. 
  • You can add onion and garlic in this curry. I do not personally like onion in yogurt based gravies and avoid it. Garlic is not a regular in my kitchen and hence it is omitted. 
  • If you are adding onion, make a paste or grate it and add it before the tomato paste and let it cook for a few minutes to rid of the raw smell. 
  • Gattes are traditionally deep fried after they are boiled to make them richer, crispier and obviously more calorie dense. I chose to shallow fry with a couple Tbsp of oil and I didn't miss the lack of extra oil. 
  • The thickness of the gattes is a personal preference, I though like to think of the log size as 1.5 pencils stacked together. The cooking time may vary based on the thickness. 
  • Keep the water boiling before adding the logs, this prevents them from breaking. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Rye bread (baking after a long gap) - creating an herb loaded artisan bread the no knead, no mess way

The recipe is right on the box, but when you cook a recipe with passion, you elevate even a box recipe - chef Jacques from 32 Yolks

I went back to baking after a long hiatus. As some of you may have noticed, my baking recipes have almost dwindled in frequency lately as I haven't baked much. It feels like an extravaganza to bake just for the two of us while DD is away at school (yep, I go through those mom guilt trips) also logistically it doesn't make sense to bake a big batch of something while neither BH nor I will be able to finish it before it goes bad. When DD was home, either she would devour it or have friends over to share. And then we also went through a phase of consciously reducing the amount of flours in every day food, so bread was the first one to feel the pain of the axe :-).
I bought Rye flour in the local grocery store a few months back after eating a byte of the hearty, slightly dense textured store bought rye bread as part of a potluck dinner. The intention to bake a rye bread at home was urgent and genuine but the universe conspired against it from becoming a reality sooner. New year rolled in, on one of my regular 'clean the pantry' efforts, I found the desolate box of rye flour in the dark corner of my pantry completely forgotten and uncared for. Now that cannot be good at all, right? I honestly believe any ingredient that I purchase has potential to turn into something delicious and soul satisfying even if it is the forgotten rye flour. So out came the box and as I went into my deep, meditative thoughts about how to use the rye flour I kept turning the flour package in my hand which is how I ended up seeing the recipe for a traditional rye bread right there on the package cover :-) (That wasn't a surprise, was it? all flour packages logically have a recipe for a bread and a cookie atleast. I was just trying to build a story up:-))
The recipe had the usual suspects, part rye, part bread flour, yeast, a little salt & sugar to activate yeast and ofcourse water. The only deterrent was the step that said, knead vigorously for 10mins with a push and pull method to help develop gluten strands in the dough. Any bread baker worth her (or his) salt is familiar with the kneading process. Somehow that step about kneading didn't sound appealing at all. Lately with the weather being cold and wet, I am not feeling like dealing with wet things for long duration in the kitchen and was in no mood to stand and knead the dough for 10mins. I know I have said before that kneading bread dough is therapeutic but it doesn't feel like it just right now, not yet. May be once the weather warms up a bit, I will be my normal self rearing to go and build my biceps and triceps in the name of kneading bread dough. So, my very smart (and completely lazy) brain was directing me to find a short cut and avoid if possible the part about the kneading. And the smart brain also knew that I had to bake the bread that day otherwise the flour would return back to its desolate corner or vanish into oblivion all together (read as 'end up in the compost bin' because I overlooked the expiry date).
I have baked "no knead" breads before and like the concept of letting the dough develop flavors and rise on its own accord with time instead of trying to speed up the process with the kneading. So off I went to search for a no knead rye bread recipe and stumbled on this video here. After trying this recipe out, (see my slow rise pita bread if interested) I am convinced that a naturally ripened bread dough yields a better tasting bread than a 'on a yeast boost' and artificially prepared dough to get the bread into the oven quickly. Simply put, I love the slow rise bread and the fact that there is no kneading involved was a nice bonus on top :-). Slow rise dough also gives the bread a crusty outer later with a wonderful texture on the inside. If you are still not convinced, think one single vessel to wash when this is all done and absolutely no messy counter top to clean up, ah I can see you rushing to your kitchen right this moment to bake a delicious no-knead bread :-), wait, you haven't read my recipe yet.. you are almost there if you have come this far (psst, feel free to skip the next paragraph as it is mainly collected facts about health benefits of rye, the main source being guru google which you can do on your own and at your own convenience :-))
I went back and forth on writing about the health benefits of rye. Given that I am not a nutritionist or even someone that has diligently studied nutrition out of curiosity, my knowledge comes from the all pervading internet just like for most of you. While the free information overload can be overwhelming, my motto is to stay within reasonable limits, eat everything that your body doesn't seem to reject outright and do the physical activity that it takes to digest and use the nutrients well. With that astounding wisdom, I will only point out a few facts about Rye without any personal recommendation to include it in your diet, it is up to you. Rye is a type of grass, at a very broad level belongs to the wheat family. Usually it is unpolished as it is not easy to separate the germ and the bran and hence retains a lot more nutrients than polished wheat. It is a whole grain and is known to help many conditions including diabetes. It does have gluten though much lower than that found in wheat. If you are looking for a lighter, airier bread you need to add wheat flour/bread flour to compensate the gluten deficiency. If you like the hearty flavor of rye and do not mind the denser texture, use all rye in your dough.
Rye breads traditionally use caraway seeds to infuse a distinct aroma. Caraway seeds also known as meridian fennel are one of those ingredients that impart a distinct flavor to the dish. Caraway is also a carminative herb that prevents bloating. I don't have it in my pantry and was not going to hunt for it in my stores for what I thought would be a one time fancy baking. So I used the regular fennel seeds (saunf in hindi) instead. But, added a whole bunch of chopped fresh dill to add that delicious aroma into the bread. You can skip fennel, add just fresh dill or chopped onions or crushed ajwain or shah jeera(black cumin) or regular cumin. Imagine the best flavor that you would like to see your bread infused with and go with that ingredient, nothing stops you from being imaginative in the kitchen.
The recipe uses a scoop and shake method as he says clearly in the video. No weighing of ingredients on this one. So, watch the amount of water you add as you might scoop more, shake less or the other way around and may need a little bit more or less water than prescribed below. My scoops seem to be lighter (or the shakes more vigorous) that I have only used 12Oz water on both attempts that I have made this recipe. See the picture of dough to understand the consistency you are looking for before letting it stay on to raise on its own.
What do you need to make rye bread?
Source: ArtisanbreadwithStev
1 cup rye flour + a tbsp for shaping
2 cups bread flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt 
1/4 tsp instant yeast (bread machine yeast)
2 Tbsp caraway seeds (I didn't have, replaced it with fennel seeds)
1 Tbsp olive oil
12-13 Oz water
1 packed cup chopped fresh dill

How do you make rye bread? 
  • Take a wide bowl (make sure it has space to let the dough rise). 
  • Add the dry flours, sugar, salt and yeast into the bowl. 
  • With a spoon or back of a ladle (I used a colorful wooden chop stick that I have not yet used for noodles :-)) and mix all the ingredients well so they are uniformly incorporated. 
  • Add the seeds if you are using at this time and mix them in. 
  • Add the olive oil and start with 11oz of water. Stirring the contents with your spoon, bring them together and add the remaining water slowly to make a slightly wet and loose dough. The amount of water depends on the variety of flour and also the accuracy of your scoop and shake :-)
  • With the weather being cold, I left the mixed dough outside on the counter top for close to 35hours before taking it for the 2nd rise. 
  • Cover and let it rest for atleast 18-20hours but upto 40hours.
  • This dough will not double in size but looks stringy and elastic when you take it out after the rising period. 
  • Spread a tbsp of flour on a working surface, turn the dough on to it, add the finely chopped dill leaves if using and fold the dough a couple of times to incorporate the leaves homogeneously.
  • Shape the dough to suit your baking pan. 
  • Take a second similar shaped pan, put a parchment paper on it and lightly grease it with a spray cooking oil. Set the dough on it, cover with a cling wrap and let it rest for another 45mins to an hour.
  • Preheat oven to 450F along with the baking pan you will bake the bread in. 
  • Once the second rise has taken about an hour, open the oven and get the heated baking pan outside (USE GLOVES AND BE CAREFUL HANDLING HOT UTENSILS PLEASE). 
  • Lift the parchment paper along with the shaped bread, drop it into the hot baking pan, score it a couple of places to open it up while backing. 
  • Cover it with the lid and return it quickly to the oven. 
  • Bake the bread for 25mins with the lid on. 
  • Remove the lid and let it bake for 2-3 mins to get a golden crust. 
  • Take the bread out and let it cool slightly on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy the warm, crusty slices or let it cool completely and turn them into a sandwich of choice. 
Baking pan tips: 
  • Rye bread bakes at a high temperature of 450F, choose a baking pan that can withstand the preheating and the baking periods. 
  • The shape of the pan is only a personal preference. 
  • I used my dutch oven to bake the bread which took most (little more than 3/4 of the dough) to make a big one and used a smaller clay container to bake a tiny bread :-). It was just cuteness that I couldn't resist.
  • Use a pan that has a lid so the moisture is captured inside while baking. 
  • Don't be afraid to play around with the proportion of rye and bread flour until you reach your preference for taste and texture of the bread. 
  • Replace half the quantity of water with room temperature milk to make the bread softer. 
  • If you are in a hot climate, leave the dough outside for about 30mins once you mix it in, cover and refrigerate for anywhere between 24-48 hours before starting to bake. 
  • It is important to completely mix the dry ingredients first before starting to add oil and water. There is no kneading and hence yeast doesn't spread evenly if you do not mix the dry ingredients well. 
  • It is important to pre heat the baking pan before transferring the shaped dough into it. 
  • Alternatives to caraway seeds - fennel/saunf seeds, shahi jeera/black cumin, crushed cumin, ajwain seeds or kalonji/nigella seeds.
  • I like to lightly dry roast the seeds if using, cool and crush them before adding to the flour to get a more pronounced aroma of the herbs. 
  • I have made the bread with a 1/2 cup of sauteed onions added along with fresh dill as well and the crunch from onions makes this bread so much more delicious.