I won't lie to you: I don't think I could survive the relentless cacophony of that sort of life, and like my peace and quiet, thank you very much. But to have fresh bread, fruits, vegetables, flowers arriving at the doorstep- that would be quite a treat, wouldn't it? More than anything, it is the relationship that grows between you and the person bringing you the food; my aunt is very particular about treating these folks as extended family. They in turn always bring her the best of everything.
OK, you think I have rambled on enough for one post? Here is my attempt to make some of that laadi pav at home. This post on Jugalbandi is a must-read essay about this incredible bread that Bombayites know and love. I tried to make my imitation pav using the Tender Potato Bread recipe from the Daring Bakers. I had used that bread recipe to make khara buns, thanks to Shilpa, and was struck by the pav-esque quality of the bread. Hence this attempt.
I would not call this an easy recipe. This dough is difficult to handle- it is extremely sticky. But the whole process was really enjoyable for me, with lots of therapeutic kneading involved. Although it is called potato bread, there really is only 1 large potato for 18 hearty rolls, so it is not potatoey by any means, but the presence of the potato yields beautiful results in terms of texture. I also used this dough to make pizza crust and I am afraid it did not work so well; the dough is a little too soft and sticky for that (maybe it needed a bit more flour). I would *strongly* suggest reading Tanna's detailed post for many helpful notes about this recipe. The potato bread posts from the Daring Bakers will likewise provide insights from hundreds of home bakers who have tried this recipe. We can learn from their experiences! I have adapted the recipe so that nearly half the flour is now whole wheat, and have halved the recipe. I loved the fact that the recipe made exactly 2 slabs of pav using pans that I have on hand.
Potato Bread Laadi Pav
1 large baking potato (the floury kind)
0.5 T + 0.5 t salt
1 t active dry yeast
0.5 T butter, softened
2 C + 0.5 C all-purpose flour
2 C white whole-wheat flour
1. Combine the 2 C AP flour, 2 C W-WW flour and 0.5 T salt in a bowl and set aside. Keep the 0.5 C AP flour separate.
2. Wash, peel and chop the potato. Combine potato, 2 C water, and 0.5 t salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until potato is very tender. Strain the potatoes and place in a large bowl (save the cooking water). Mash the potatoes finely. Measure out 1.5 C of the cooking water and add it to the bowl.
3. Let the mashed potato-potato water cool down almost to room temperature (or barely warm), then stir in the yeast. Leave aside for 5 minutes.
4. Stir in 0.5 C AP flour into the yeast mix and set aside for 5-10 minutes.
5. Mix in the softened butter, then stir in about half of the flour mixture a little at a time, incorporating it well.
6. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, then add the rest of the flour slowly, kneading well. It takes 10-15 minutes of kneading to result in the final dough.
7. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover and let it rise for 1.5-2 hours, until doubled in volume.
8. Take 2 buttered pans- I used a 9X13 rectangular one and an 8X8 square one. Knead the risen dough for a couple of minutes, then divide it into 18 equal portions (First into 2 portions, then each into 3 portions, then each into 3 portions again).
9. Form each portion into a compact ball. Arrange 12 balls in the larger pan and 6 balls in the smaller one. Cover the pans and let the rolls rise again for 35-45 minutes.
10. Brush the top of the rolls with olive oil. Bake in a 400F pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown. Serve right away!
Vegan version: Use vegan margarine instead of butter.
We enjoyed this laadi pav with (what else but) pav bhaji. These rolls would also work beautifully to make my other favorite street foods, such as vada pav and to soak up some flavorful misal, and something called dabeli, which I will post soon. I also love eating fresh pav dunked in any spicy curry such as chana (chickpea) masala, as a change from the usual pairing with rotis and rice. Needless to say, these rolls would be perfect for making all kinds of sandwiches, whether they are Indianized or not. If you have any left over, the rolls toast beautifully.
I think I might be falling in love with potato bread. Yikes! Luckily, Tanna is doing a whole series of different types of potato breads on her blog, and I can't wait to try them. Homemade bread, whether yeasted or of the flatbread persuasion, is such good fun. And good eats.
My project this month is to make the crisp and hollow puris that are used to make pani-puri. I'd like to ask you all: Have you ever tried making these at home? What recipe did you use and what was the experience like? How did they turn out? Any advice is much appreciated. Thank you!
I'll leave you with my Daily Tiffin post for January: The Simpler Life.