Finally the much awaited Bake-a-thon is here.I am joining a group of friends who are going to post more that a dozen bakes this month.I had a great time taking part in this event last year and I am sure it is going to be the same this year too.

I am starting this series with Aparna’s We Knead to Bake bread that I was supposed to have posted last month. I messed up the posting dates and baked it late.Better late than never, right! So here is the Sheermal…

According to the notes given by Aparna…..

Sheermal
or Shirmal is a saffron-flavored slightly sweet traditional leavened
flatbread that is found in various countries on the Asian sub-continent
including Iran, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. 

Sheermal is a Naan-like
milk bread, apparently of Persian origins, and it is suggested that the
name comes from the Persian word for milk which is “sheer”. In India,
this “milk” bread is predominantly found in Muslim neighbourhoods
(another reason to suppose it came to India with the Mughals) of
Kashmir, Lucknow and Hyderabad. 

You will find Sheermal being made with either baking powder or yeast
as the leavening agent, and this version uses yeast. The kewra (screw
pine extract) gives this bread a unique flavour which can a bit of an
acquired taste. Rose water/ essence is also used, and is also somewhat
of an acquired flavour. If you can neither (or don’t want ot use
either), you can use crushed cardamom instead.

Incorporating the
ghee into the dough slowly by adding a little at a time ensures that the
fat is dispersed evenly through the dough, and gives a better texture
to the Sheermal. Make sure your dough is soft, elastic and well kneaded
as this will produce a superior Sheermal. The hallmark of good Sheermal
is the glistening finish on the flatbread from brushing it with melted
ghee or butter, so do not skimp on that, even though this flatbread is
already rich as it is
.

The finished flatbread and when it is served/ how it is
eaten, seems to differ slightly depending on where it is made. So you
will find that some Sheermal decorated with a lovely pricked rustic
pattern on its surface, Lucknowi Sheermal garnished with raisins, others
like to use slivered almonds, poppy seeds or sesame seeds to top their
Sheermal.It is usually eaten as it is
with tea for breakfast, or served slightly warm as part of a meal with a
mutton curry called Nihari/ Nehari or spicy kebabs. It can also be
served with  Khurma/ Qorma, vegetable curries, etc. 



Traditionally, this is a bread that is cooked in a tandoor, but the oven also produces quite good Sheermal. 

This is the first time I have come across this bread and all of us enjoyed it at home.The original recip uses eggs.The egg gives the dough a little extra richness, texture and flavour,but I have omitted it here.Also I used whole wheat flour and all purpose flour in this recipe.

This video is a film showing how Sheermal is made in smaller commercial bakeries – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-6gZYWUrEo
This video gives a good demonstartiuon on how to make/ shape Sheermal – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HD_74g36bJI

Sheermal/ Shirmal (Saffron Flavoured Flatbread) 
This recipe makes 4 Sheermals of approximately 4” diameter.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp Instant yeast
2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1/4 cup ghee
1/2 cup milk (or more, as required for kneading)
1/2 tsp rose water

A few strands saffron soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk
Melted butter, for brushing

Method:

Put both the flour and salt in a bowl.
Add the yeast ,salt,sugar and whisk well.

Add lukewarm water, ghee in two batches and mix such that it resembles crumbs.Now add
as much milk[I used around3/4 cup], and finally rose water and knead until you
have a very soft and slightly sticky dough.You can knead by hand / use a processor.

Transfer this to an oiled
bowl, cover with a moist cloth and let the dough rise till doubled in
volume-about 1 to 2 hours.

Remove the cloth and knead the dough again. Shape into a ball,
lightly coat all over with a little ghee, cover with a damp kitchen
towel and let it rest for about 15 to 20 minutes.Now divide the
dough into 4 equal portions.

Using your fingers, press out each
portion into a round of approximately 4” diameter (about 1/8” thick).
You can also use your rolling pin, but it is quite easy to do with
my fingers. Place the rounds on a parchment lined
baking tray and using a fork, dock (prick holes) the whole surface of
the dough rounds.

Brush them all over, generously, with the saffron-milk solution. Bake
at 180C (350F) for about 10 to 15 minutes till they turn a lovely
golden brown. Do not over-bake them.

Take them out of the oven,
and immediately brush them lightly with melted butter or more ghee.
Serve warm.


 I made 2 with milk and saffron smeared over it and another two with sesame seeds sprinkled over it.We had this with cowpea gravy.

The regular version was savored with tea…

Since I used wheat flour, I was a bit worried about the texture.But on baking, this is how it turned out and all my worries flew away …..

Bon Appetit…

Bake-a-thon 2014

 

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