A Persian bread
I recently joined the group We Knead to Bake. Komaj (#18) was the bread given by the Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen, the initiator of the group. Komaj is a Persian sweet savoury bread from south east Iran where cumin grows in abundance. No wonder this bread has cumin and turmeric as one of its main ingredients. When Aparna posted the recipe for the members to bake, I was initially intrigued by the combination of cumin, turmeric, dates and cardamom. I was wondering how the combination of all four would taste.
I baked the bread a few days ago and it was a big challenge. No don’t get me wrong, the bread is pretty easy to make… the challenge was the continuous power cut that we are experiencing at the moment in Mombasa. Saturday the dough was proven twice as required by the recipe but I couldn’t bake it. The dough went into the fridge. Sunday, I filled the dough with dates and the power went off. Waited impatiently, cursing the Kenya Power Lighting and was hoping the dough will not get too yeasty and start smelling sour. Two things were on my side, the amount of yeast used for this bread and the cool weather. Finally got to bake the bread.
I couldn’t wait for the buns to get baked as the smell of cumin made me feel hungry. The first bite, I didn’t get the date bit but the bread tasted like cumin bread sticks. Second bite and the date and savoury taste was heavenly. Hubby dear loved the bread and had nearly 4 with some butter. He couldn’t wait for me to make him a cup of tea to go with the komaj. When I started the final stage of filling and cutting the dough, I wanted to make 10 as the recipe suggested, but I landed up making 25 small ones. I used instant active dry yeast and had to increase the liquid to nearly 1 cup. I also kneaded the dough with my hands. If you want to follow the processor method refer to Aparna’s recipe.
3¾ cup plain flour (all purpose flour or bread flour)
¼ cup sugar
⅔ -1 cup warm milk
2½ tsp roasted and lightly crushed cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tsp instant active dry yeast
½ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
½ -¾ tsp salt
1 egg (optional)
1½ tbsp olive oil
12 -15 dried dates pitted and cut into chunks
25 g soft butter ( about 1½ tbsp)
1 tsp cardamom powder
milk or fresh cream for brushing on top
icing sugar for dusting (optional)
extra oil for greasing
- Mix flour, sugar, salt, 2 tsp of coarsely crushed cumin, turmeric powder and yeast.
- Lightly whip the egg, add milk and oil to it. Mix it.
- Add the egg mixture to the flour and form a dough.
- Knead the dough till it is smooth and pliable. The dough should not be sticky. As I did not use the machine, I kneaded the dough for 10 minutes.
- Lightly grease a bowl.
- Form the dough into a ball. Lightly grease it and place it in the bowl.
- Cover, place the bowl in a warm place and let the dough rise till it is double in size. This may take about 1½ hour.
- Gently knead the dough remove the air and form into a ball again.
- Place it in the bowl again, cover and let it rise again till it is double in size. This may take one hour.
- In the meantime, prepare the filling by mixing the dates, butter and cardamom powder.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- After the second rise, gently knead the dough.
- Divide the dough into 10 or 16.
- Roll one part into a strip about ¼ inch thick.
- With your cutter, make a mark on the rolled dough so that acts an indicator as to where to place the filling.
- Place about ½ tsp of the filling and cover with the other part of the rolled dough. Cut with a cutter (round, square, heart shaped etc).
- Place the bun on a greased baking tray.
- Repeat steps 13 to 16.
- Use the left over dough also.
- Brush the top of the buns with milk or cream.
- Sprinkle the remaining crushed cumin seeds on top.
- Bake the buns for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Remove from the tray and place on a wire rack to cool.
- Sprinkle powdered sugar on top while it is still warm.
- Next time I would increase the amount of filling as I found it too little.
- After the second rise, I placed the dough in the fridge and used it the next day. The buns were perfect.
- After placing the filling on the dough, brush the edges with water so that when the other part of the dough is placed over it and cut into shape, it seals well. Otherwise during baking it can open up.
- The last bit of dough left was not possible to roll, so I just stuffed it with the filling and shaped it into a ball.
- I would sprinkle the powdered sugar on top to give that extra sweet taste.
- Smaller komaj will take less time to bake. I think I left mine for too long.
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