I studied engineering in Bangalore and loved the city, with its gardens, cool temperatures and open walking areas. I visited a few years ago and was sadly disappointed. The city I loved had become overrun with crowds, and the light, open feeling was gone. But I did find that the food was still as fantastic as ever — and I made a new discovery. Local bakeries are baking up rolls flavored with Indian spices and herbs. Here is my rendition of curry leaf bread adapted from Modern Spice by Monica Bhide (Simon & Schuster 2009). Because flours vary in their protein content from brand to brand and region to region, you might need to adjust the amount of liquid in this recipe.
Makes a 1-pound loaf
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh curry leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup water (more if needed)
1/2 cup evaporated milk
Place the flour, sugar, yeast, salt, turmeric, cumin and curry leaves in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
Heat the butter, water and milk just until the butter melts. Allow to cool until warm to the touch (110 to 120 degrees).
Gradually add the warm liquid to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until a soft but not sticky dough forms. You may not need all of the liquid, but if the dough is too dry, add warm water a tablespoon at a time until you get a soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead for about 5 minutes or until you have a soft, smooth and elastic dough.
Remove the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk, 45 to 60 minutes.
Place the dough on a clean work surface and knead for a minute or two.
Shape and place in a greased 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise until the dough is about 1 inch above the top of the pan (45 to 60 minutes).
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the middle position.
Bake the bread for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack before slicing.