Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Pav bhaji with a very pav-like focaccia, and what I'm reading

A couple of months ago, I heard of a program in our community that delivers food to seniors in need. Someone came up with the idea to add homemade bread to the food delivery as a gesture of love, and asked for volunteer bakers. I volunteered to send two loaves, and decided that one would be sweet and the other savory. I ended up being a cake baked in a bread pan and a bread baked in a cake pan.

This happened back in March, and for the sweet bread, I decided on a pumpkin loaf to use up the last can of pumpkin puree for the season. I found a recipe for easy pumpkin bread that uses a whole can of pumpkin and makes 2 loaves- one to share, and one for home. 

For the savory bread, I wanted to make a focaccia, because it is a versatile bread that can be made into a sandwich, or toasted, or served with soup. I hunted for a recipe with the main criterion being that it would make two loaves, again, one to share and the other to keep.

Finished focaccia

And somehow I stumbled upon this gem of a recipe. The ridiculously easy focaccia- as it is titled- is really, truly that easy. I followed the recipe closely. However, I was able to avoid using plastic wrap, just covering the bowl with a lid and also avoided lining the cake pans with parchment. My cake pans are dark non-stick metal and the focaccia slid out easily after baking. 

Dimpled, bubbly and ready for the oven

This recipe is a total keeper! With no effort at all, I got focaccia that was flavorful, airy, pillowy with all the good hallmarks of pav, being crusty on the outside but soft on the inside. 

* * * 

This weekend I made the focaccia again, as a pav to dunk into pav bhaji. 

My pav bhaji recipe has been a popular one on this blog, and one I've used for years, and I made the same recipe, just in an instant pot, using the saute mode followed by the pressure cooking mode.

  1. Saute 1 minced green pepper
  2. Add ginger-garlic paste, salt, turmeric, red chilli powder,  pav bhaji masala
  3. Add 1 cup of tomato puree
  4. Add rough chopped 2 potatoes and 1 medium head cauliflower.
  5. Pressure cook for 4 minutes
  6. Natural pressure release (or quick release after 10-15 minutes)
  7. Mash it up
  8. Simmer for a bit to thicken

IP pav bhaji

Serve with onion, cilantro, lemon and extra spice! 
Also butter.

* * *

Some good reads from the last few months-

Three Keys by Kelly Yang. This is the sequel to Yang's middle-grade book, Front Desk, which I adored. Mia Tang is back- a sixth-grader who helps her parents run a motel. This book is set in the 90s and covers the immigration-related political events in California at the time. 

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga. This book was a very thoughtful and unexpected gift. The cover art is gorgeous. 12 year old Jude tells her story- in free verse- of leaving an unstable situation in Syria with her mother and fleeing to her uncle's home in suburban America. With ups and downs, she finds her footing in middle school. A beautiful story!

“There is an Arabic proverb that says:
She makes you feel
like a loaf of freshly baked bread.

It is said about
the nicest
The type of people
who help you

Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. This one is a non-fiction parenting book by my favorite duo who wrote another book that I adore. My two kids are typical siblings in the "can't live with you; can't live without you" style, and it is always nice to find ways to quell some of the sibling drama that inevitably happens. A few of their tips:

Feelings-- Acknowledge negative feelings about a sibling in words and express what the child might wish. Show better ways to express anger but stop their hurtful actions.

Comparisons-- Avoid unfavorable comparisons AND favorable comparisons. Instead describe what you see, what you feel or what needs to be done.

Equality-- Instead of worrying about giving equally, focus on each child’s needs. Instead of claiming equal love, show each child how they are loved uniquely. Give according to need.

Roles-- Don’t lock a child into a role and don’t let the child themselves or their sibling lock them into a role (the bully, the victim, the smart one, the pretty one)

Fights-- In case of physical fights, pay attention to the injured party, not the aggressor.

Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz. Just a good escapist cozy mystery. Or actually, two cozy mysteries in one book!!

Humans by Brandon Stanton. Stanton goes around the world interviewing people. Everyone- absolutely everyone- has a story and Stanton wants to hear it. This book is a collection of some of the photos and stories and it gave me all the feels. Stanton runs a blockbuster Instagram account- here's one of my favorite stories that he has featured- I dare you not to tear up. 

The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon. I read this book for a task in the Read Harder challenge: Read a book that demystifies a common mental illness. Solomon has written an absolute tome on depression- part memoir, part investigative journalism, part history. 

How are you doing? What are you cooking and eating?


  1. What a lovely post.. I keep dreaming of making bread but somehow yet to take the plunge..

    As for books, from your list, have read Siblings Without Rivalry- I am an older child with a younger sister and we pretty much have no relationship.. some of the points you have mentioned are what I took away from it but alas my parents feel/act differently...

    Am currently reading Insight and a Tamil book

    1. Aarti- this focaccia bread recipe is a perfect "first bread" recipe. Really and truly easy with great results.

      My sister and I did not get along as kids but we are very close now. So a good sibling relationship can develop later in life as adults.

  2. I must try the focaccia (as soon as summer vacay starts. Cannot wait for school to end and the son and I are home all day). I was looking for an easy recipe and here you present me with one!
    For now, as we come to the end of the school year, I have to finish up with testing and reports so reading has slowed down, but my coworker has given me a few Kristin Hannah books. Have you read them? I started with The Great Alone, The Nightingale.
    I got Humans from the library and will savor it slowly.

    Cooking and eating: Quick meals. I get exhausted very easily these days and just manage easy and everyday stuff.

    Watching : my husband and I are watching Bones, and enjoying it, after the child goes to bed.

    1. Good luck for the end of the school year! It does sound nice to have long lazy summer days. I think you will love this focaccia recipe; I have been recommending it to everyone.

      I've never read anything by Kristin Hannah but the Nightingale has been on my TBR list for ages.

      Bones sounds interesting- I like procedurals! I am just not finding time to watch anything these days.

  3. What a fantastic program to share bread - I would love to participate in such a program - though struggle to find time to bake bread lately. Your focaccia looks wonderful.

    I haven't got much reading done and have read books I have read good reviews of and enjoyed but not loved - am just about to finish Hamnet by maggie o'farrell which took me a while to get into but I am enjoying it although it is so sad I sometimes find it hard to read. I really need some cosy murder mystery - not sure I have read Anthony horowitz but loved the tv series foyle's war.

    I think I need more books to read because we are headed for a week of hard lockdown which feels a bit grim! But we are doing ok compared to other countries - will miss going into work as I appreciate how much easier it is to work when I can collar colleagues, look them in the eye and sit at a screen together. Plus I enjoy riding my bike there and water cooler chat.

    1. The only bread I'm baking these days is these no-knead hands-off breads, because they are so easy and honestly, they turn out fantastic.

      I absolutely loved Foyle's War. And Horowitz writes great cozies too. I am totally in the mood for some lighter reading this summer.

      I'm back at the office 2-3 days a week, it is another transition. Yup, the water cooler chat is nice although my team is global and I'm still on conference calls for hours every day and that will never change.

  4. Oh my gosh, I am so much tempted to try the focaccia bread Nupur! Thank you for sharing the link! I will try this weekend and will let you know how it goes!

    Also thank you for sharing the tips on parenting. I have two boys who are always intensely competing with each other and I think I might definitely look out for this book and see if I can find it on my Kindle Unlimited! Thanks for the suggestion!

    I got some tips to share from a book study group I had been part of earlier this month:
    Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other (Ephesians 4:32)
    Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10)
    Consider others as more important than yourself (Philippians 2:

    This week has been a busy if not crazy week . I haven't picked a book to read yet for this month , but last month I read "Beneath a Scarlet Sky" by Mark Sullivan. It is a based on a true story of a courageous hero. This story is set in the World War II period.
    Feel free to check out my book review !

    1. Do try the bread and let me know how it works for you. It is amazingly easy and I've made it several times by now.

      Good luck with your two boys!! Life with kids is not easy :D

      Will definitely read your book review.

  5. Hey, Nupur, your bread sounds really simple and for a really worthy cause. I've never baked bread before and I'm very nervous about it but I'm thinking of giving the focaccia you've linked a shot!

    BTW, I somehow chanced upon this small business selling podis in GA and immediately thought of you:

    1. This is a great first bread recipe- honestly simple and gave me excellent results. Worth a try!!

      Podilife looks like a great little business- I'll definitely try them out. Thanks!

  6. Dear nupur - long time lurker here and I’ve loved your posts since your very first one. You’ve inspired me to come out of my comfort zone and actually give baking a go! Thanks so much. This focaccia sounds and looks amazing! My daughter & I love your book reccos. We’ve both loved the Kelly yang books and I would love more middle grade book reccos or a source/ list where I could access the names of said books as we seem to have similar book tastes . Thanks

    1. Dear Elle- Thank you for this sweet note; you made my day! I'm so glad you enjoyed the Kelly Yang books. Here are more in that genre that I've read and enjoyed in the past month: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling and El Deafo by Cece Bell.

      This is a great list for middle grade books:

      Happy reading and baking!! :)


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