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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Going Gaga over Ghughni N still focusing the Focaccia Bread-Going Strong Together

Ghughni/White Peas cooked with Tomatoes, Onion, Potato, Coconut, Coriander, Cumin into a lip-smacking Curry paired with Focaccia with Rosemary n Nigella seeds

Ghughni is childhood flavored with beautiful spices, coconut, tomatoes, tamarind water n a dash of lime n puffed up Luchis or slices of white charred bread slices. Now that is a taste of culinary heaven and I wanna go back to that as often as I can because it takes me on two parallel journeys-one across the timeline to my childhood and another over the rainbow of flavors. Ghughni is a fantastic medley of white peas cooked with fried coconut slices, tomato, potatoes, red onion, a touch of ginger, garlic, a touch of red chili powder, turmeric, coriander n cumin, fresh coriander leaves- a huge depth of flavors as you are imagining- a great Eastern Indian Curry if you want to call it a curry, I will only call it ‘GHUGHNI’-spelled as ‘Ghoo-gh-nee’.

My mother makes it really well, there is something special n delicate about the way she cooks it that makes this lip-smacking good,  as a kid whenever there was ghughni being made at home, I would grab some tamarind, put it in a tea cup n sprinkle a touch of pink rock salt, a tiny red chili powder, a touch of salt n some water to dilute it to prepare tamarind water, so when it was ready I would take a bowl of ghughni n add a dash of that tamarind water and woo! What a beautiful explosion of flavors. I would always share the tamarind water with my father who loved it, with my didi. And one thing I always love eating ghughni with are Luchis/Poori-deep-friend flat bread, another favorite is the white bread charred over direct flame.

In fact this combination is very popular till date across many eateries in Bengal, specially the small eateries across the streets, this combination is often called together ‘ghooghni-pawroti’, pawroti is the local name of a sliced white bread- so this is pretty special. Paranthas go really well too with ghooghni, another good combination is crispy puffed rice called ‘Muri/Murmure’- the puffed rice adds a new texture, their crunch combined with the soft melting white peas. Now-a-days when I go to the morning vegetable market I see the busy vegetable sellers having their breakfast with ghooghni n muri.

Focaccia is a flat bread risen by yeast, first of all the dough of a focaccia is a fantastic pizza base, the dough is little difficult to deal with because it is very sticky, so whenever you are making the dough I will always advise you to use a pastry scraper when making the dough, one hand to scrape the dough and another to do the kneading, because of the use of warm water in the beginning the dough gets very sticky. In fact you might feel helpless when the dough is almost hanging from your hands but just scrape it from the surface and keep kneading, don’t try to scrape it off your hands too much, scrape from your hands only when you feel you can’t knead anymore like this n carry on n trust me the dough will come together, the dough will be ready when it begins to appear smooth and it will stick a lot less in your hands which will take about 10 minutes of kneading, the final dough will still be soft n sticky but lot less and when you push a finger into the dough n take it off the dough will come up again.

Before the focaccia goes into the oven you sprinkle a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil on top of it which gives it a fruity finish and in my bread I have added nigella seeds/kalonji/kaalo jeere along with rosemary and the smell that came out of the oven I can’t even describe that to you in words. It was like unreal, subtle but so powerful that it made me sniff near the oven door, somehow the smell was so amazingly  good it reminded me of an ice-cream which I have never eaten, I knew the bread was salty but that smell did steal my heart away and it kept reminding me of ice-cream.

Anyways I hope you make both these recipes together n experience beautiful flavors, so let me give you the recipe.

For The Recipe: You will need

For the Ghughni:
Whole white peas/Gota matar/safed sabut matar- 250 gm, soak them in water overnight or around 8 hours
Coconut slices-5 tbsp, sliced n chopped into ½ inch squares
Onion- 2 medium, chopped
Tomato-3 big, chopped
Garlic clove- 3 medium, chopped
Ginger- 2 inch, minced about 1 ½ tbsp
Potato- 3 medium, peeled n halved
Green chili- 2, chopped
Coriander seeds- 1 ½ tbsp, slightly roasted n powdered
Cumin seeds-1 tbsp. slightly roasted n powdered
Red chili powder- 1 tbsp
Turmeric- ½ tsp
Fresh coriander leaves n stalks- 4/5 tbsp
Green cardamom- 2
Cinnamon sticks-2 inch piece
Pink rock salt
Mustard oil/vegetable oil- 5/6 tbsp
Tej patta/Indian bay leaf- 2

For the Focaccia bread
Strong white flour- 500gm
Lukewarm water-340 ml+1-2 tbsp more if required
Salt- 10gm
Caster sugar-1 tbsp
Yeast- 1 tbsp dry yeast
Olive oil- 1 tsp+more for brushing
To finish the bread:
Rosemary dry-1 tbsp, if using fresh use double
Extra virgin olive oil- 35 ml
Nigella seeds/kalo jeere/kalonji- 1 tsp
Flaky salt – few pinches

1. First drain the water from the soaked white peas, they would have fluffed up a bit, now put them in a pressure cooker n add water so that water stands 1 ½ inches over them, put the flame on high, add a little salt, a pinch of turmeric, 1 crushed green cardamom pod, the whole potatoes  and let the water come to a boil, as the water boils  little foam will collect over the water, scoop that out, when there is no more foam put the lid of the pressure cooker on and give it 3 whistles , 2 on high n 1 in medium flame. If you are boiling them without a pressure cooker they might take about 40-50 minutes, when you press them between your fingers they should smash, try not to make them too soft at this stage.
2. In a deep kadai or wok heat the mustard oil to smoking at first, then reduce the flame to low, add the chopped coconut pieces n fry them until they get slightly brown all over, take them out, now the oil is flavored with coconut flavor, so add the tej patta/Indian bay leaf, the chopped garlic into the oil, don’t let the garlic color, then add the chopped onion n green chili, increase the heat to high and give it 2 minutes, add the chopped coriander stalks, then reduce the heat to low and give them around 5-7 minutes on low heat, then add the ginger , mix. Add a pinch of sugar to them and give it 1 minute, then add some salt n then the tomatoes, mix well and on a medium heat give it 5 minutes, smash the tomatoes slightly with the a ladle or something, so after 5 minutes add the red chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder along with 2 tbsp of water so that the spices don’t burn, give it 2 minutes like this and then add the boiled white peas n potato along with the remaining water in the pressure cooker. Now add the 2 pinches of pink rock salt, salt to taste and 1 tbsp of sugar, add some water if at this point of time it looks very thick, add around 2 cups n adjust the salt again, let it come to slight simmer, add some fresh coriander leaves, the fried coconut pieces and give it 10 minutes on low heat. In 10 minutes the flavors will mix with each other, the white peas will become even softer.
3. In the meantime in a mortar n pestle take 2 cardamom pods and cinnamon and 1 tbsp of water and pound them until it becomes a coarse mixture. After 10-12 minutes put the flame off and add this mixture, mix well, give it 4 minutes of standing time and ghughni is ready, take it out into a deep bowl and sprinkle few coriander leaves.
4. Now the bread, first take some warm water from the measured water and sprinkle the yeast on that n mix, give it 5 minutes until the yeast has dissolved, make sure you can dip your finger n hold it there in the water, if the water is too hot it will kill the yeast. In a deep bowl take the flour, the salt, sugar, the oil and give it a good mix,  add the yeast and the rest of water in 2 parts and mix well, it will be sticky. If the dough is too stiff add 1-2 tbsp more water, the dough will be soft n sticky. Now tip the whole mass onto a well-floured wooden or marble surface and start kneading the dough. Take a pastry scraper in one hand and with the other hand knead the dough, scrape it back with the scraper and knead, it will be very sticky n soft and it will trouble you, you will think this is all wrong but trust me this is how it is supposed to be, so keep kneading it for 10 minutes like this and when it approaches 10 minutes you will see that the dough has becomes more smooth,  not so sticky anymore in an uncontrollable way like before, the dough will be elastic n resilient to the push of a finger and springs back when you stop pushing. Now make a smooth ball out of the dough and place it in a deep bowl oiled inside where it will triple in its volume. Brush the top of the dough with a little olive oil, cover with cling film and keep in a warm place for about 3-3 ½ hours.
5.  After about 3 hours when the dough has trebled in size, tip the dough on a heavily floured surface, tap the dough out firmly with your palm and heel of your hand to a rough rectangle, fold in half, then in three in the other direction like a blanket. Tap and press the dough again into a rectangle. Take a Swiss roll tin of about 30cm/20 cm and flour it, then place the rectangle dough inside it and press it gently so that dough almost reaches the corners and the dough is distributed evenly, cover it with a cloth and leave to rise again for 1 hour at room temperature.
6. Pre-heat oven to 250 Celsius/475 Fahrenheit/gas mark 9. Now with your fingers poke the dough to make dimples in the surface in a straight line, sprinkle the nigella seeds, the rosemary and zigzag the olive oil all over and with a light hand spread it all across the surface, then scatter some flaky salt over and place the Swiss roll tin on a heavy baking sheet in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven to 200 Celsius/400 Fahrenheit/gas mark 6 and bake for 15-25 minutes, when the focaccia will have risen to about a height of 4-5 cm and it will attain a light golden color all over. I put the top grill on in the last 10 minutes for the color n crust to develop, give it 5 minutes more if it needs in your oven. Remove and leave it to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, and then take it out, it is done.

So now the bread is ready and tell me the feeling when you smelled the air while the bread was in the oven, it was unreal wasn’t it? Now for the ghughni, prepare tamarind water or cut some lime, sprinkle a bit on top of the ghughni and scatter some fresh coconut slices all over and then cut the bread into stripes, now dip the bread and scoop out the ghughni on the bread and into your mouth. Soooo good…right! See I told you…n Bon App├ętit!


  1. Ghugni with focaccia....That's amazing.... Lovely :) Tingg!!!

    1. Thank you so much Debarghya for your sweet comment :) i like the Tingg sound effect :)

  2. Ghugni with focaccia....That's amazing.... Lovely :) Tingg!!!