Tag Archives: ghee

Stove Top Naan

Rolling out the naan

Naan (makes 4)

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (or maida)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon active rapid rise yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  1. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large glass bowl. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water in a measuring cup and allow the yeast 5 minutes to develop. Break an egg into the measuring cup, whip it and add yogurt and oil. Stir well. The liquid ingredients should add up to ¾ quarters of a cup or just slightly more. This depends on the size of the egg. Add just 1 tablespoon yogurt to keep the total amount of liquid to as close to ¾ quarters of a cup as possible.
  2. Make a well in the flour and add the liquid ingredients. Mix well with your fingers and incorporate into a soft dough. If all goes well, you’ll get dough that doesn’t stick too much to your fingers or to the bowl. If it’s too dry, add another tablespoon of yogurt. If it is too sticky, add a little bit more flour.
  3. Preheat your oven to 175 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease the inside of the bowl and coat the outside of the dough with a bit of oil. This makes the dough much easier to handle! Cover the bowl with a damp cloth, turn off the preheated oven and place the bowl inside. The warmth helps the dough rise faster and the damp cloth keeps it moist. You may not need to use the oven if it’s warm in your kitchen. After an hour, your dough should have doubled in volume. If not, work the dough for a couple of minutes and put it back in the oven for another hour.
  4. Divide the leavened dough into 4 equal parts. Don’t worry if the dough reduces in size when you do this. Work them into round balls and dust them slightly with flour. Dust your work surface with flour as well. If the dough is very sticky, rub a bit of oil into your palms and dust the dough with more flour. Roll out each naan into an oval shape that is about ¼ inch thick without overworking the dough. Keep covered with a damp paper towel or cloth.
  5. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high till it starts slightly smoking. Gently place the naan on the skillet taking care not to stretch it out further. Turn over onto other side when you see bubbles form, about 30-45 seconds. A few black spots on either side indicate the naan is done. Remove from heat and spread some ghee, butter, or olive oil on top. If the skillet gets too smoky, reduce the heat. Increase the heat again if the naans are taking too long to cook.
  6. For cumin naan, sprinkle some cumin seeds on the rolled out naan and press them in with the roller. For garlic naan, add minced garlic into the dough. Alternatively, saute the garlic in butter separately and spread it on one side of the cooked naan.


Filed under India, Recipe

Going Beyond a Single Story: A Trip in My Backyard, Ethiopian Food and Marqqa

Vessels to store/pour beverages

Like Ethiopian food? I love it! The spongy injera bread at the end that has soaked up the flavors of the spicy is my favorite part. I learned recently though that there is much more to Ethiopian cuisine than injera and stews. The cuisine of the Oromian region of Ethiopia for example is quite different as I found out and actually has a lot in common with Indian food.

A couple of Saturdays ago, I went on a day trip to area code 98118, ten minutes away from downtown Seattle. The trip was organized by Crooked Trails and the Horn of Africa Services to create “a cross-cultural journey connecting Seattle residents with immigrants and refugees from Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Somalia to meet, share and learn.”

When I heard about this trip, I was reminded of Chimananda Adichie, a writer from Nigeria who gave a TED Talk about the cultural misunderstandings that arise from knowing only a single story about a person or culture. The single story that we hear about Africa is one of poverty, famine and aid. I wanted a broader and deeper look into the lives of East Africans with whom I already had in common the immigrant experience. The trip also promised cooking with host families as part of the itinerary! There was no way to resist that.

Cooking together in our Ethiopian/Oromo host's kitchen

I wanted to share a couple of things that I learned from my 98118 experience. After a big group session with all participants, we were divided into smaller groups and sent off with our hosts. My group of five people were hosted by an Ethiopian Oromo family. Almost anything that I’ve read about Ethiopia focuses solely on the Amharic culture. The Oromos are actually the largest tribe in Ethiopia and have their own distinct language and culture. Sadly, the Ethiopian government represses the Oromo politically and socially. The Oromo do not have the freedom to learn or speak their language.

Our lovely hosts showed us how to make marqqa or marka (cooked barley dough with a spicy ghee sauce), chapathis and chai.  The chapathis and chai are an influence from the Indians taken to East Africa as indentured labourers and it was so much fun for me to trade techniques on the easiest way to roll out the dough!  It also struck me how similar marqqa is to “ragi mudde”, a cooked dough dish made in some parts of the South Indian state of Karnataka where I’m from.  Ragi or finger millet, is a highly nutritious grain that is originally from Ethiopia and used extensively in South India. It was an unexpected reminder of how much more we have in common with people from other countries than we think.

While the musician in the group brought out the guitar and played us soft cooking music from his perch on the colorful, sectioned couch, others took turns making chapatis, washing dishes, and checking how the chai was coming along. I’d never met any of these people before and I felt so much at home.

I feel compelled to share this simple recipe for marqqa which is the perfect dish for gloomy fall weather. And as I write this, I’m making elaborate travel plans to Ethiopia in my mind. Sadly, I know they will not come to fruition any time soon.

Barley flour, sifted and ready to use to make Marqqa

The consistency of the cooked barley flour dough or Marqqa

Warm Marqqa with ghee and berbere spices


  • Roughly 2 cups barley flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons ghee
  • 1-2 teaspoons berbere spice blend

Bring 4 cups of water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add the salt. Have a wooden spatula handy.

While the water heats up, measure out 2 cups of barley flour. When the water boils, remove about a cup and put aside to add back as needed later. Slowly add flour to the hot water while stirring the water with a wooden spatula. This helps avoid clumps of uncooked barley and makes for smoother dough. You may not need all of the flour. Add till there is no water left and it is hard to stir the cooked dough. If there is uncooked flour or if the dough is too hard, add some of the boiled water you had put aside earlier. Use the tapered edge of your spoon to cut through the dough as you move the spoon back and forth.  Remove from heat when the dough starts sticking to the pot.

Heat 4 tablespoons ghee (or butter) for 30 seconds in the microwave. Add 1-2 teaspoons of Berbere, an Ethiopian spice blend.

Transfer the cooked dough into a serving bowl. Pour the ghee sauce over it and mix it up. You could also serve the ghee sauce separately and let people mix it with the dough on their plates. We were served homemade yogurt with this dish.

I loved the utter simplicity of this dish. The barley dough ball tastes wholesome and the ghee sauce with the berbere is very flavorful. I went back for seconds and then thirds, not knowing of the rest of the food that we had yet to make and eat!

This experience not only gave me the chance to hang out with my neighbors in a different part of Seattle but also changed my single story of Ethiopia, its culture and its cuisine. I hope you’ll give this dish a try!

Making chai

Steaming cups of spicy chai - with cardamom, ginger and cloves

Ethiopian chapathis


Filed under Recipe

Fava Beans: Definitely Worth the Effort

I first came across this Persian recipe by way of Madhur Jaffrey. While she is the queen of Indian cookbooks, she has also been a spokesperson for vegetarian food from the Middle East and Asia. That’s how I first ‘met’ her – through her World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking book which I had purchased from a used book store in Cincinnati more than ten years ago. I bought it because I mostly ate vegetarian anyway. And because I loved the illustration of the smiling sari-clad beauty with long flowing black hair, traditional but with a touch of the modern about her.  I always wanted hair like that.

I digress.

There are two recipes that I remember cooking right away. One was a Kashmiri dish called Haak which means collard greens. The other was the Persian dish using ghee, baby lima beans, swiss chard and dill. This was my first foray into collard greens and swiss chard, these being greens that are not used in South Indian cuisine. I loved the simplicity of these dishes and for a year, kept going back to these same recipes, over and over again.

After that year, I inexplicably forgot all about it till  I had a hankering for it the other day. I still have the cookbook, one of the few that made the journey with me to Seattle from my previous home in Germany, but remember the recipe well. I went looking for lima beans at the Whole Foods a couple of blocks from where I live.  I couldn’t find it, fresh or canned. But they did have fresh fava beans. I figured fava beans would work just as well. And oh, by golly, they were fantastic!

Fava beans were another first for me and I was glad I had searched online for how to cook fava beans. As I would have shelled the beans from the pods and thrown them into the pot not knowing they had to be peeled a second time! But some people do eat them without the peeling if the beans are tender. Here’s an excellent tutorial for how to prep fresh fava beans. And yes they are some work to prep, but they are SO worth it. Get your spouse, friends, kids, neighbors to help! It’s a great communal activity.

And here’s the Persian recipe adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Vegetarian Cooking of the East

Use the ingredient amounts in the recipe below as a guideline. A bit more or less is fine. Serves 2-3


  • 1/2 cup fava beans, shelled and peeled
  • roughly half a bunch of swiss chard, cut in half lengthwise and then cut into 1 inch strips
  • 4 stalks dill, finely chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or butter
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water
  • salt to taste


Heat the ghee or butter in a large pot or wok.

Saute the onion till translucent.

Add the swiss chard and fava beans, mix well and saute for 2-3 minutes.

Add the broth or water. Cover and cook on medium for 4-5 minutes or till the chard is cooked to your liking.

Add the dill, and salt to taste.

Lower heat and simmer for a minute before removing from heat.

Serve with fragrant basmati or jasmine rice. Or over quinoa.

Did you know that Madhur Jaffrey has also acted in movies? She was in The Guru and most recently in Today’s Special (with Aasif Mandvi of The Daily Show fame). She was apparently the one who introduced James Ivory and Ismail Merchant! This is a woman of many talents!

And finally, get them fava beans before they go out of season! Hurry!

1 Comment

Filed under Persian, Recipe