Bangalore’s Khara Buns / Masala Buns – Spiced Rolls of Nostalgia!

Growing up in Chennai , the good old Madras of the yesteryears, I knew of only 2 seasons – hot and hotter. No, seriously, ask any Chennaiite..and they can attest to the fact that a slightest dip in the temperature, and mind you this is like slightest  dip in the barometer, and you and can get the folks talking about it. About how there is chill in the air, how we should get the sweaters – out, no seriously sweaters as in the one we all would all own a  single piece  of woolen clothing that could service us for years as they were used  very sparingly. Transplanting  this Chennaiite to the neighboring state of  Karnataka, could induce “chill attack” hitherto unknown to the heat accustomed body.

Of course, Bangalore would be this heavenly sojourn and a welcome respite from the Chennai summers. Especially in the months of May and June. As kids, my brother and I  have often been to Bangalore to visit our grandparents and uncles. Bangalore was in some ways another home. Beautiful, lush parks and cool weather that soothes the mind, body and soul. And, no visit to Bangalore would be complete without indulging in Iyengar bakery’s Khaara buns. we would just wait for the clock to strike 3 pm to weasel out money for this one or simply wait until my grandmom, would issue a dictate to indulge in this treat. Oh, and what a treat it was! Hot and spicy, just out of the oven with a cripsy crust, a spongy  center and absolutley delectable!

And as we often do, I took a trip down the memory lane one too many times the past few days. Probably running  around  with a myriad of things and sense of ” I – am ‘-on-the-hamster- wheel ” feeling struck me very strongly. After quick call to mom and dad, and assuring yours truly that everything and everyone in the near and dear circle were peachy, I finally decided to do something productive. Plus ,I was baby sitting an imp of a five year old. My youngest’s close ally in all the trouble ever perpetuated, this one was demanding all my attention since he was deprived of my kids company, albeit for a couple of hours.

Really , how still can a 5 – year old sit? Apparently a whole 10 minutes was near equivalent to a lifetime of inactivity 🙂  And so, yours truly was bombarded with questions….

” How come Curious George’s guy always wears yellow ?”

” How come A3 has school until 3.45 Pm?”

” Are you cooking?”

“Are you baking?”

“Is it yummy?”

“What are you making?”

“Why?”

” I am thirsty” And after a gallon of water  “I need to pee.. again “.

Back to ” Why is it only 2.30? When is A1 coming?”

And I realized , I better stock up on enough fodder to entertain a 5 year  old,and a lonely one at it.  So after a bit of Curious George and game of I spy.. we baked. Or rather I baked and answered some more of his questions.

Here’s an ode to Bangalore’s Masala Buns.. May it whet your appetite !

Spiced rolls/buns of Nostalgia – Bangalore’s Khara buns

 Prep time : 15 – min   Dough resting time – 50-60 min Baking time 22-25 min

Yields 10-12 buns.

Ingredients for the Dough:

  1. 2 cups Self rising flour+ about 3-4 tbsp extra flour if required
  2. 1 1/2 tsp rapid acting dry yeast. I used the fleishmann’s kind found in grocery stores.
  3. ¾ cup of Water
  4. ¼ cup of yogurt
  5. 1 tsp of sugar
  6. 2 tbsp of Olive oil or any fat of your choice
  7. 1 1/2 tsp Salt

For the smacking flavors of spice :

  1. ½ cup – ¾ cup of onions , thinly sliced
  2. 4-6 green chillis ( I used thai chillis ) finely chopped
  3. ½ cup of finely chopped green coriander leaves
  4. 1 tsp Cumin seeds

 For the glaze

  1. 1 tbsp of butter and milk

Process :

Proofing the yeast:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, warm the water to a reasonably warm temperature. Rapid acting yeast requires luke warm temperature to begin its action. Boiling water will kill the yeast and cold water will not make it active.
  2. Add in the sugar and yeast and stir well and set aside for 7-8 minutes. You should see frothy upper layer forming on the surface of your bowl. If you do not see this , chances are one of the variables required was skewed. Go ahead and redo this process. An inactive yield would not impart the same successful results you need.

Making the dough:

  • In a wide bowl, add the flour and whisk it with the salt.
  • And the ¼ cup of yogurt and incorporate it gently. I gently folded the yogurt into the flour and used my fingers to do it.
  • Now add in the chopped onions, coriander leaves, cumin seeds and any other spices of your choice and a pinch of salt if required.
  • Mix in thoroughly. Again , I did not use a food processor or dough maker. Just my hands .
  • Add in the yeast frothy mixture of water and sugar and gently mix in the dough.
  • Once it forms a ball of a reasonable shape, add in the 2 tbsp of olive oil, knead again and cover it with a plastic wrap. By now your dough should resemble a big round blob. If it is too sticky add in the extra 3-4 tablespoons of flour to get a soft, pliable and non-sticky dough.
  • Set it side for about 45- 60 minutes, so the dough nearly doubles in size.

Baking process:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.
  • Re-knead the dough gently. You might need to grease your hands to do this. You do not need to vigorously punch out the air and re-knead it again and again. I just got the dough out on a clean working surface and kneaded it for about 5 minutes. Now you have a bigger blob on your hands! Proof that the yeast and leavening agents did their job!
  • Divide it into about 12 -14 rounds and the globes need to be placed a few inches apart from each other.
  • Place it in the center rack and bake for about 22-25 minutes.

Baked goodies and serving

  • The buns would bake a nice golden brown and should sound a bit hollow when tapped.
  • And the skewer test would work too.( stick a skew int he center and it should come out clean!)
  • Once done brush it with a prepared glaze of melted butter in warm milk to give it the nice glow.
  • To serve, slice a bun in half and add a dollop of butter and eat warm with a cup of chai.

Points to be noted 

  • If the frothy mixture of yeast and sugar is not happening, please redo this step.
  • If your dough gets sticky during the initial process, add in a few tablespoons of the flour to ease it out.
  • Greasing your palms when you make these globes for baking is a good idea.
  • Using a parchment paper on your baking sheet makes clean up a breeze.

Happy indulging !

Khara Buns
Khara Buns

Cashewnut Burfi or Kaju Burfi – Fudgy, Pudgy Squares Of Ambrosia Joy!

And bang it begins. Amidst all the craziness of kids being kids, Halloween parties and older one’s FLL meetings, I craved for “me” time. Usually it would mean that I would slink away with a book to my room . It has a nice cozy spot overlooking the backyard and I would love watching the birds and the occasional deer that would venture out nearer. Sometimes it would mean trying to look for the “yet – to bloom-leaf” on the apple tree or simply purging stuff from the closet. Any and all of the above is done with music. It is amazing how many cues I can give . MS Subbalakshmi soothes my soul and AR Rahman might perk me up. But Ilayaraja can give me company anytime on my “me” time and punk music accompanies me when I am scrubbing things out. But today was different. It has been a crazy day so far and I yearned to make something which required minimal ingredients, but gave great results. In simple words, I was looking for instant gratification –  amazing results with minimal effort for Diwali preparations:-)

All  of my kids love kaju katlis. But seriously I craved for the melt in the mouth kind of ones. I mean kaju katlis are wonderful, but i just wanted that extra crunch and bite in my mithai this time. So in mash-mash of requirements with simplicity as the theme, here we have Mom’s favorite nut burfi.

Prep time : 10 min

Cook time : 30-40 min

Yield : about 36-40 burfis ( depending on the size). Caution : constant sampling will cause zero yield.

Ingredients:

  1. Raw cashew nuts, coarsely powdered : 2.25 cups
  2. White sugar : 2 cups
  3. Water: 2 cups
  4. flavorless oil or 2 tsp ghee to coat the plate or baking pan in which you would pour out the fudge to settle.

Method:

  • Coarsely powder the raw cashew nuts to yield about 2.25 cups of yield.
  • In a large, thick bottomed pan add in the sugar and water and let it boil to create sugar of single thread consistency. I just maintained the heat in medium flame and this was achieved in about 12-15 minutes.
  • Add in the coarsely powdered cashews and stir in to avoid lumps.
  • The gooey, bubbling mass of goodness will soon thicken and will sort of roll in . I altered the heat setting s between low – medium as I did not want to brown the bottom of the burfi.
  • In about 10-15 minutes or so you would notice the mixture leaving the sides of the pan and sort of come together. If in doubt stir in a bit longer.
  • Now dump out the contents on your greased setting surface, even out the top layer using a greased flat spatula  and using a greased knife, cut in the still hot burfi mass to yield desired shapes. The burfi should set in about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cut.
  • Cool it to room temperature and store in an airtight container.

Notes:

  • The cashew nuts powder easily at room temperature.
  • I used a nonstick heavy bottomed pan, therefore no grease was used in the cooking process.
  • Cut in the squares or diamond shapes quickly before the fudge settles in. Obviously you are not going to be successful, if it hardens .
  • Using a square baking tray will give you uniform pieces. But I just wanted mine to have diversity.

Lighting up the home and hearth!.. Happy Diwali to all!

I was serenaded by the most wonderful piece of news just yesterday. In fact in all fairness, there was something in the air for the last few weeks. I heard about the impending arrival of my niece. She is on her way folks, and I bet she is going to be an awesome, sassy, bright and beautiful spunky creature just like her mom! Oh ,  I simply cannot just wait to see her. Albeit it is going to be a long wait of many months.

And then, life reminds you it is beautiful again. Another amazing life creation is going to be on his/her way soon as well. This one got us all seated down, as we realize life has a very pleasant way of reminding us who the actual master of the universe is. Plan as much you will I say, these curveballs in life are what makes it beautiful I say. It was an emotional piece of news delivered to us and we could simply stare at our most favorite people on earth as they shared the very best of it!

And a local cricket match sprung up a well of emotions in my family , equivalent to MI vs CSK match. And its was a nice clincher that my DH’s team won the trophy. ( Yes , I did go to cheer him up at the field, with two of my three minions in tow. And we did a sufficiently commendable job minus the backflips of course. All the while explaining to my daughter that in all high probability her dad’s blood will be singing in cricket terms if a vein is cut open. No she did not get the humor in it, but my son kept guffawing through out. I have a 13 year old cynic and 10 year old butterfly 🙂 )

As I sit down to write this, I am transported back to the memories of yester yore ( cue : cut to the b/w scene from movies in flash back mode ). I vividly remember my mom making at least a dozen , that’s right folks a dozen , of those wonderful varieties of sweets and snacks for Diwali. A wonderful multitalented woman, who patiently tolerated my 16 year teenage phase, who woke up at 3 am just to keep me company during my Master’s degree, who made fantastic chole puris to perk me up, who did not deter from cooking a meal for 30 people with limited rations, who keep the door to her home and hearth open to all the family and near and dear at all times. She is still the favorite  “Mala paati (grandmother)” to all my kids , the one my oldest , a teen wheedles out his favorite kaaju katlis from. An amazing task master who can do just about anything, that too with a smile !

Today being the 26th of October and Diwali, a week away, I was dabbling on deciding the menu for Diwali and I came up with this…

(Dear Amma, this menu is but a scant reflection of what you pampered us with, but nonetheless it is a dedication to you…)

Coming up soon:

Diwali food for the soul ( and the stomach too…)…

  1. Fig and Dates bar – studded with nuts and goodies and no sugar added – for my DH
  2. Crunchy spiral ribbons – Awesome, addictive spirals of crunchiness – for my kids
  3. Mom’s favorite quick burfi – nuts and sugar burfi – simply irresistible!
  4. Semolina and coconut with dried cranberries and pistachio mounds of goodness
  5. Surprise !

So keep tuned folks, as I dole it out all soon…

Happy Diwali once again !