This month, three days of the week, you will see posts related to the Bake-a-thon. This is a baking event that is conducted by Valli every year. I think I will leave more details in the next post, while today, I will celebrate the birthday of the country that gives our bread and butter…
Every year, I have made it a point that I do a post for this day. December 2 was the day when this country was declared in its current known state. The country today completes 48 years of existence. We all know how much the young country called UAE, despite its diminutive area, has managed to come to the top of the world, due to its exemplary leadership, swift development and enthusiasm to soak in new technologies and innovation. 2019 was celebrated as the Year of Tolerance and through out the year, there were events confirming the country’s commitment to promoting tolerance between communities, irrespective of their differences.
I have written enough about how much I am indebted to this country for the lovely life it has given me and my family. If you would love to read the posts from the previous years, then here they are…
You can find all the Emirati recipes clubbed together under this tab for easy reference…
Since this year, the date was clashing with the first post for the Bake-a-thon, I decided that I must somehow figure out a baked dish that I could post during this special day. We all know that the UAE is a desert and the idea of baking was not something that was done in modern style. As per what I understand from my readings, the baking was usually done in deep hot stone ovens, which are similar to the Indian tandoors, and most of the time, it would be something like meat or fish. A little big digging and a small memory brushing reminded me of the yeasted bread called “Khameer”.
“Khameer” in fact means “yeast”. Likely the bread got its name from the usage of yeast to give its body. There is a little confusion with regards to the making of this bread. Of late I had seen a lot of recipes where the Khameer is fried. I understand that the fried version belong to Yemen, while the baked version is what belongs to the UAE. Moreover, there is even confusion on the texture of this bread. I have seen, and in fact eaten a Khameer which was totally puffed up and looked like a pita bread, yet slightly sweetened due to the use of dates in it. However, there are Khameers that are like thick pancakes, made healthier due to the baking.
The Khameer I made ended up in the second category despite following the recipe to the T. I have no idea whether it was wrong or maybe that is the way it is, however we totally enjoyed the bread along with the cheese and honey. Since it was a hit with my family, I decided to get it up on the blog.
In fact, my first try was a disaster. I used this recipe and tried the overnight proofing. I used half of all purpose and half wholewheat to make the dough. Unfortunately, when I saw the dough in the morning, I realized something was wrong and the first bake cemented my doubts. Instead of getting bread, I got a thick biscuit and that entire dough ended up in the bin. 🙁 I then kneaded the second batch, this time taking little hints from my earlier lesson and referring to this link, and went proofing as usual. However, there was no usage of the date syrup anywhere so I still went ahead and used it. Usually, I understand it is softened dates that it mashed and added, but you can add dates syrup or paste to make your life easier. The spices lend a subtle flavor to the bread.
Even though the bread wasn’t puffy, it was really soft and melt in mouth. Like you can see in the below, we dunk into the cheese and drizzled a little honey over it, and really enjoyed it. In fact, I regretted making an additional breakfast, thinking that this wouldn’t get accepted, so I had to make the folks finish off the bread over two days. Hehe… Hope you have enjoyed the first recipe from my adopted country… and till the end of the month, three days a week, you will only see bakes this month, so stay tuned…
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ tbsp yeast
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp cardamom powder
- A fat pinch of saffron, crushed
- 2 tbsp date syrup
- 1 tbsp melted ghee
- ½ cup warm milk
- 1 small egg or milk, for wash
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, salt and the spices.
- In a mug, whisk the syrup, ghee and milk till combined and pour over the dry ingredients.
- Bring the dough together and knead till you get a soft, non-sticky dough. Add more flour or milk as desired. Knead for at least 7 to 10 minutes.
- Grease the bowl and keep the dough for proofing for an hour.
- Preheat oven to 240 degrees. Take out the trays and only keep the rack in.
- Divide the dough into 4 balls. Roll into a ¼ thick round. Wash with egg or milk on the top.
- On a cooling rack, put the brushed side down and push into the oven. Bake for 3 minutes or till cooked.
- Pull out and take onto a plate. Serve warm with cheese and honey.