About two weeks ago, I did something totally out of character. Egged on by the husband’s prompts and a gentle but persuasive, “Come no!” from my blogger friend Arundati, I registered to attend the first ever Indian Food Bloggers Meet (#IFBM2014) being held in Bengaluru, on August 1st and 2nd. Given that I have been blogging so sporadically and have had next to no interactions with other food bloggers in India (although I have admired and lurked on their blogs and sometimes even left comments when I was feeling brave enough), going to a meet where I know just a handful of people, and a lot of these bloggers are on back-slapping and babe-babe terms with each other, has me nervous and anxious that I’ll stick out like an “outsider” thumb.
I am telling myself, since I’ve got to start somewhere, this is possibly the best chance I’ll get to know other food bloggers in India. The Facebook updates of the meet are so promising and have successfully upped my anticipation of the event with each passing day. I am seriously kicked about the sessions, meeting bloggers, wine-tasting and best of all taking away the loads of goodies. I have to admit, those giveaway goodies might just have tipped me a little more in favor of attending the meet ;). It would do to anybody in favor of the meet, especially if you are into kitchen and bakeware. And which food blogger isn’t? I’ve missed almost all of the contests held by IFBM so far and now hope to catch the last one with a post on a savory baked corn dish. This contest is sponsored by Freedom Tree and you know me right? Good-looking bakeware always makes me go weak in my knees despite all my intentions to go minimal. So I simply HAD to participate in this one.
With this in mind, last Friday, I picked up four ears of corn from a cart after a routine visit to the doctor’s. That day I was rushing from one place to another. From the doc’s, to a facial appointment, from there to the gym. And since I wouldn’t have too much time for a sit-down lunch, I packed some sautéed chickpeas and kept it in the car as I went about my chores. When I finally got to eating it I realized that the chickpeas had gone bad due to the heat in the car (the air-conditioning in my car isn’t working), so I skipped them. I was meeting the husband for dinner outside after my gym. Post dinner, I casually mentioned to him that the car would be stinking a bit because some food had gone bad, and that we needed to dispose it off at some dustbin on the way home. He looked at the backseat and spotted the corn and asked me something. I told him to let them be as I needed to bake with them. Just so I didn’t forget, I removed the box of chickpeas from the bag it was in and placed it on the dashboard. When we finally got to a place where we could dispose-off the chickpeas, I asked the husband to do that. That’s when he realized that the source of the stink lay in the small blue box in front of him and he had thrown-off the four ears of corn instead. Of course he wasn’t really listening – typical of him – and just caught bit of what I was speaking. How in the world can someone imagine whole corns to stink and then sit before a box of smelly chickpeas and not smell anything foul!
Of course I let him know how disappointed I was and then cooled myself down thinking I’d buy them again the next day. Due to some confusion about the timing of a cake delivery and the ensuing rushed work, I managed to be done only by 9.30 pm. I looked around for carts selling corn and didn’t find a single one on my way home. I got home after 10:00 pm feeling pretty dejected and sorry for myself. The husband was going to be away for most part of the next six days (some major event at his office). His comings and goings home were going to be at very odd hours, sometimes just for a bath. I texted him to let him know that I was home and that I was disappointed that I hadn’t found any corn. I was looking forward to participating in the contest and now might just have to push it to the last day (which I thought was the Monday). The husband responded with “I am going to make up for that, by getting it for you, don’t worry.” Since I knew he wasn’t going to finish his work till the next morning, I was certain that he wasn’t going to be able to get it, despite his tall promises. The next morning, I woke up at 3.30 am to a call from him asking me to open the door. I groggily opened the door to find him standing there grinning with an armful of corn. He muttered something about getting it from a wholesale fruit market. At that time in the morning, I really couldn’t care less!
After a breakfast and coffee the next morning, when I was sufficiently awakened and feeling kinder towards the world in general, I heard the husband’s story. After finishing work at his office at 1.30 am, he went around the city (40-50 kilometers) looking for fruit and corn sellers. He finally found one at a wholesale market in the Old City open at that time of the night due to Ramzan. He smugly claimed it was the craziest thing he had done in a really long time. I was tempted to blurt out, “If you had listened to be me in the first place, you really wouldn’t have to resort to these shenanigans”. But it was morning and I was sufficiently awakened, more human, and had no excuse to be bitchy, so I chose to feel grateful for having 10 ears of corn (God knows what I am going to do with them), so I mumbled a gracious “thank you”.
On Sunday I saw that the last day for sending posts for this contest was 30th July. I didn’t have to rush myself.
It is 30th July today and here is my entry to the IFBM and Freedom Tree Baking Contest.
Pretzel Buns with a Desi Tadkewala Corn and Cheese Filling
(Recipe adapted from here)
What You Will Need
For the Dough
- 3.5 cups All purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons Whole Wheat Vital Gluten* (the original recipe called for Bread Flour, since I had All-purpose, I added Gluten to it, you can skip it if you don’t have it)
- 1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 2 teaspoons – Active Dry Instant Yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the filling
- 11/4 cup – grated Cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cup – corn kernels (blanched a little)
- 1 teaspoon – butter
- 1/2 teaspoon – cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon – chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon – salt
- Juice of 1/2 – a lime
- 1.5 tablespoons – chopped coriander
- 8 cups – water
- 1/4 cup – Baking Soda
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon water
- Some sea salt to sprinkle
How You Make It
- Add the Active Dry Yeast to lukewarm water and add the sugar to activate the yeast and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to froth up.
- Meanwhile, add the salt and gluten to the flour and sift.
- After the yeast has frothed up, add the liquid to the dry ingredients and knead. Then add the butter and knead for 10 minutes. When kneading, add extra flour, if required (not too much) till you a get smooth round dough. Place the dough into a well-greased bowl. Grease all sides of the dough and cover with cling film or a wet kitchen cloth and set aside for 1 hour or till the dough has doubled in size.
- Make your filling. Grate the cheese and set aside. To a heated pan, add 1 teaspoon of butter and add the corn kernels (you can parboil them a little to soften them, if you like your corn tender). Let it saute for a bit. Add salt, cumin and chilli powder and mix and let it cook on a low flame. Turn of after 10 minutes and squeeze the juice of half a lime over the corn and add chopped coriander to the mix. Set aside to cool.
- After an hour, when the dough has doubled, remove the dough from the bowl and punch the air out it. Knead and divide into 9 equal portions. Take one portion, flatten it with your palm and spread it out a little. Add a tablespoon of the corn mix and a spoon of the grated cheese and raise the sides of the flattened dough and pinch them together on top to close the parcel. Turn over so that the pinched side is down and gently with a downward motion of your palm, smooth the parcel into a circle. Repeat for all 9 portions of the dough.
- Lay them far apart to ensure they do not stick to each other on a parchment-lined tray. Cover with a wet kitchen towel and set aside to rise for another 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.
- After 25 minutes, in a large saucepan, heat the water and add the baking soda.
- When the water starts to simmer, gently use a flattened spoon to pick one of the pretzel buns and gently drop them into the water with the pinched side down for 20 seconds. After 20 seconds turn over and let the other side poach for another 20 seconds. Drain the water using a slotted spoon and lay the buns on the parchment-lined tray with the pinched side down. Repeat for all the buns.
- Add the water to the egg white and beat. Using a brush, apply the egg wash on each of the buns liberally.
- Sprinkle with sea salt and bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes. Remove from the tray and cool on a rack, till they are cool enough to eat.
What are you waiting for? Dig-in already!