Time for this month's challenge for We Knead to Bake
! This time it is edition #22 and Aparna
chose a really beautiful bread for us to try - the Sheermal/ Shirmal.
A little introduction as provided by her:
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.
This can be eaten for breakfast along with tea or with some spicy curry for lunch or dinner. Sheermal can be made either with baking powder or yeast, and she gave us a version with yeast. The bread is very rich in itself - having ghee and using milk for kneading. We had it with a really spicy mutton curry and the mild sweetness perfectly matched the spiciness of the curry.
Sheermal/ Shirmal ~ Saffron Flavored Flatbread
Makes 6 medium breads
1 tsp active dried yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup ghee, melted
1/2 cup milk *
1 tsp rose water
A few strands saffron soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk
Melted ghee, for brushing
Mix the yeast into the warm water with sugar and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes till it is frothy.
Put the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the yeast mixture and the beaten egg and mix well by hands. Add the ghee in two lots and mix till it represents fine crumbs.
Now add as much milk, and finally the rose water and knead until you have a very soft and slightly sticky dough. Transfer this to an oiled bowl, cover with a moist cloth and let the dough rise till doubled in volume. Mine took around an hour and a half to double.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. Grease your baking pan and set aside.
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 minutes.
Now divide the dough into 6 equal portions and using your fingers, press out each portion into a round which is slightly. Since the dough is elastic, you can easily do this by your hand. Place the sheermal onto the baking pan and using a fork, prick holes on the surface. Brush generously with the saffron milk.
Bake for approximately 12 minutes till they turn a lovely golden brown. Do not over-bake them. Brush them with some ghee as soon as they are taken out of the oven.
* You may not need all this milk. Add it slowly and adjust to get an elastic dough. In case you add all the milk - like I did! - then add some extra flour to reach the desired consistency. I added around 3 tbsp of flour.