Flavor in Indian cooking comes from the tadka, when oil is infused with dried spices. This oil carries the flavor to the vegetables, dals, rice. This masala bread uses the same technique. The flavor really comes through and the bread is a lovely bright yellow. This is delicious with regular tomato soup and in a grilled cheese sandwich. I’ve modified my favorite bread recipe (Olive oil dough) in my favorite baking book- the New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If you want to understand bread, I’d suggest you start with this book. Here is how I made this bread.
This is enough for two 1 lb loaves approximately.
Step 1: heat 2 tbsp of olive oil or regular oil- add 1 tsp of mustard seeds and wait for them to sputter, then add 1 tsp of cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp of turmeric, a pinch of asafetida and 1 tbsp of chopped kadipatta leaves (curry leaves). This is the tadka that will flavor the bread- let it cool
Step 2: make your no-knead dough. Mix wet ingredients (oil, 1 1/3 cup of lukewarm water, 1/2 tbsp of sugar, 1/2 tbsp of kosher salt and 1/2 tbsp of instant yeast) to 3 cups of bread flour (if you use all purpose- it comes to 31/4). I use a danish whisk- the idea is to make sure all the flour is moistened, do not knead- this will be a shaggy dough.
Step 3: Rest at room temperature till the dough rises and falls- this took much longer than the routine 2 hours – my first rise took 4 hours or so
Step 4: Refrigerate for at least 2 days – this is important for the sourdough flavor to develop. The dough can be used within the next 10 days or so
Step 5: Baking day!! Remove half of the dough and shape. Shaping is critical and should be done gently. I baked one loaf in a loaf pan and one free form boule. Both are shaped differently. For the loaf- grease a 1 lb loaf pan (8 inch), remove half the dough on a floured surface- flatten into a rectangle with 8 inch length and then tightly roll and seal seam. For the boule, flatten slightly and then pinch each end to the center to form a tight ball- roll it slightly. The dough should be covered with a thin film of flour and the top should be smooth.
Step 5: final rise- room temperature for 1-2 hours till the dough is well proofed- when you poke it with a floured finger- if the indentation comes up slowly but not completely- it is well proofed. If it comes straight back- you need more proofing, if it stays deep- it is over proofed and likely a loss- still tasty most of the time.
Step 6: Bake in a 450 F oven with steam. I use a dutch oven or a cloche to do this covered for 15 minutes and then remove the cover for the last 10 minutes. Cool the bread for at least 2 hours before slicing.