Curry leaves, mustard seeds, and ginger are a classic flavor combination in South India, so I decided to use them as a flavoring for these bright pink buns,” says Rukmini Iyer, who wanted to create something carby but “hands off” to pre-bake an Indian brunch.
“There is a little light kneading, but beyond that the rising and baking times require no intervention,” she says. You can find fresh curry leaves in larger grocery stores, but chopped cilantro will work instead.
Brunch sandwiches of beetroot, curry leaf and ginger
makes: 8 sandwiches
Preparation: 15 minutes, plus 2 hours to rise. Cook: 25 minutes
15 fresh curry leaves
325 g strong white bread flour
4 g fast-acting dried yeast
150 g raw beetroot, grated
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 inch ginger, grated
Beaten egg, for brushing
70 ml neutral or olive oil
1 tbsp mustard seed
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt flakes
1. Heat 30 ml (two tablespoons) of oil in a small skillet over medium heat; when hot, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Let them pop, crackle and pop for 30 seconds to a minute until aromatic, then turn off the heat and set aside.
2. Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, grated beetroot, lemon juice and ginger together and add all the remaining oil and 100 ml water. Pour in the infused mustard seed and curry leaf oil and stir to combine. Knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand or in a food processor, adding a tablespoon of water if the dough looks dry.
3. Cover the dough and let it rise for an hour and a half, or until it has doubled in size. Punch the dough, divide it into eight, then roll each portion into a ball, turning the dough underneath so you have a smooth top. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, turned side down, and let rise for 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C fan/200C/gas. 6. Brush the buns with the beaten egg and then slide them into the oven to bake for 25 minutes until well risen. Let them cool slightly on a wire rack before serving with plenty of salted butter.
Chili, coconut and lime salmon
“Once you’ve tried this South Indian seasoning—crushed coconut, chilli, mint, garlic, and lime—you’ll love it on just about anything: white fish, chicken, paneer, roasted vegetables,” says Rukmini Iyer.
Here it seasons a traybake of salmon and cherry tomato, forms a crust for the salmon and a delicious seasoning for the roasted tomatoes and onions.
Preparation: 10 minutes | Cook: 25 minutes
4 tablespoons desiccated coconut
1 fresh red pepper
Handful of mint leaves, plus extra to serve
2 cloves of garlic
Juice of 2 limes
1 red onion, thinly sliced
250 g truss cherry tomatoes, halved
2 sustainable salmon fillets
2 tbsp neutral or olive oil
1 tsp sea salt flakes
1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan/200C/gas 6.
2. Place the coconut, chilli, mint leaves, garlic, lime juice, a tablespoon of oil and the sea salt in a spice grinder or high speed blender/Nutribullet and coarsely grind until the chilli looks even throughout the coconut (you will get a reddish, greenish debris).
3. In a medium roasting pan, combine the sliced onion and cherry tomatoes with the remaining oil. Make room for the two salmon fillets, place them in the tin, skin side down, and pat a tablespoon of the coconut-chili mixture evenly over each fillet. Divide the rest of the mixture over the onions and tomatoes.
4. Slide into oven to roast for 20-25 minutes until salmon is cooked through. Sprinkle with mint leaves and serve warm, with rice if desired.
Comments:: You can replace the salmon with cod, haddock or any other white fish with firm flesh – the cooking time is about the same. To eat it in the same baking pan, start by roasting diced sweet potato with a little olive oil and salt in your roasting pan for 30 minutes before continuing with the recipe as above.
Shahi tukra bread and butter pudding
“Shahi tukra is a rich Mughal dessert, where crusty, butter-baked bread is soaked in milk with cardamom and saffron,” explains Rukmini Iyer.
“In the interest of speed (and greed), I decided to turn it into a brioche bread and butter pudding, so you get a crunchy topping along with the delicious saffron and cardamom flavors in the dish. Blackberries and pistachios are my left field addition.”
Preparation: 15 minutes | Cook: 25-30 minutes
50 ml milk (full or semi-skimmed)
3 medium free-range eggs
85 g caster sugar
300 ml single cream
400g sliced brioche, quartered
150 g blackberries
Handful of chopped pistachios
Clotted cream, to serve with it
Generous tsp good saffron threads
6 cardamom pods, seeds ground
1. Preheat the oven to 150C fan/170C/gas 3. Heat the milk in a saucepan and add the saffron. Turn off the fire and let it steep.
2. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with the caster sugar, cream and ground cardamom seeds. Arrange the sliced brioche and blackberries in a buttered roasting tin or pie dish and pour over the egg custard.
3. Using the back of a teaspoon, mash the saffron into the milk (this will release more colour) and sprinkle gently over the pudding. Sprinkle with the pistachios and slide into the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and crispy on top. Serve immediately with clotted cream.
Remark: Use the best saffron you can find. I always find the Belazu brand good and wonderfully aromatic, but other supermarket brands of saffron less so.
‘India Express: Fresh and Delicious Recipes for Every Day’ by Rukmini Iyer (published by Square Peg, £22; photography by David Loftus), out now.