Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Indianising Bread - Breadchi Bhaji

Ever since husband and I made the switch to whole grain bread, something as basic as white bread has become a rarity in my house. To tell you the truth, I haven't really found decent white bread in the US. Certain tastes linger on for years. Nothing comes quite close to the freshly baked bread, wrapped in a thin waxy blue paper, from the local bakery in my home town Kolhapur. It used to be luscious, soft and fluffy, and never clumped up. We ate bread very occasionally. But when we did, it was picked up from the bakery still hot and fragrant, and used up right away for 'Bombay' sandwiches or Misal. A day old bread was considered stale - makes me wonder about our choices of storing stuff in the fridge for days. Not fresh enough to eat by itself, mom would turn the stale bread into pakodas, egg toast, or simple Bhaji (bhaaji). 

Breadchi Bhaji, also called Upma or Chura, is a simple savory dish made by tempering slightly dry stale bread pieces. Although 'bhaji' in Marathi refers to any vegetable preparation, the name of this dish must be derived from the usual tempering used in its preparation. Turning stale bread into bhaji a great way to use up leftovers, or make something out of plain bread when there's nothing else to go with it. I had bought white bread to make English tea sandwiches last week. And the leftovers turned into this childhood favorite of mine. Even better - I had it with a cup of hot tea!

**This recipe requires you to use oil generously, since bread soaks it right up. 

Breadchi Bhaji/Bread Upma (Leftover Bread Snack)

6 Slices white bread
1 Small or 1/2 Large onion - Chopped
3-4 Green chilies - Chopped
1 Sprig curry leaves
Handful of skin on peanuts (~ 2 tablespoons or per your liking)

2 Tablespoons oil
1/2 Teaspoon mustard seeds
Pinch of asafoetida
1/4 Teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 Teaspoon red chili powder for color (optional)
Salt to taste
Chopped cilantro and lemon/lime for garnishing
  • Slice bread in approximately 3/4 inch cubes.
  • Heat oil in a kadhai/wok and add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add asafoetida, curry leaves, chopped chilies, and turmeric at the end so it doesn't burn.
  • Once the curry leaves are slightly fried, add peanuts, chopped green chilies, and chopped onion, and saute for a minute until the onion is translucent.
  • Add salt before adding bread so it mixes evenly. I also add some red chili powder for color and extra kick. Toss in bread and turn it all the way around so the pieces get coated evenly. Use a spatula and turn gently so the bread pieces don't clump up. Let the bread get nice and toasty on medium heat, stirring in between.
  • Serve hot with chopped cilantro and a wedge of lemon/lime. 


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