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by Esmaa Self
Perhaps it’s just the way I’m wired, but for me, recipe adaptation and experimentation is a way of life. Take a recent afternoon in the kitchen whipping up kulcha, an Indian flatbread.
According to Wiki, kulcha is particularly popular in North India and is usually eaten with chole. According to me, this is a versatile quick bread, a recipe no from-scratch cook should be without. Indeed, in a few hours of kulcha making I prepared Tandoori Chicken and Black Bean Pizza; Pear, Gorgonzola and Walnut Pizza; Apple Brie Kulcha and Salmon and Onion Stuffed Kulcha.
This Chef in You entry contains the recipe that presented my jumping off place. If you’ve never prepared kulcha, you may benefit from reviewing the numerous photographs included with their recipe.
(makes enough for four pizzas or one of each of the following recipes)
Click here for Imperial-metric conversions.
6 cups all purpose flour*
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp better butter
*I tossed in ½ cup home ground yellow dock seed flour which is completely optional and, I suppose, to a purist, also means I didn’t make real kulcha.
To make a kulcha pizza crust, take one fourth the dough from the above recipe, work into a flat 12-inch round. I prefer to use my hands, but a rolling pin certainly works. Lay crust on pizza stone or pizza pan, pierce all over with fork. Cook at 400° F for 12-15 minutes (you want it browned, but not crisp). Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Variation: press rosemary and garlic into the dough before cooking.
Tandoori Chicken and Black Bean Pizza
I used two cups of chopped meat plus a cup of sauce leftover from homemade tandoori chicken (tandoori sauce recipe). I added 1 ½ cups of fresh cooked black beans, ½ cup chopped onion, ¼ cup garden picked garlic chives snipped with kitchen scissors, ½ cup crumbled goat cheese, a teaspoon each of cumin seed and olive oil, dashes of tarragon, ginger, ground pepper and ground red pepper to make this spicy can’t-stop-eating-it pizza.
The process: Heat oil; sauté cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes; add chopped onion. When onion is translucent, reduce heat; add chicken, tandoori sauce, ginger and tarragon; stir. Simmer 5 minutes; add black beans and red pepper. Cook another minute or until sauce thickens. Spread over cooked pizza crust; add goat cheese, snipped chives; add ground pepper. Cook in 350° F oven for 10-12 minutes. Serves 2 or 3.
Pear, Gorgonzola and Walnut Pizza
This alluring dish requires two pears, about 3 ounces of gorgonzola, a generous handful of walnut pieces, ½ cup finely chopped onion, ground pepper and ½ cup of grated cheddar cheese. And is it easy to prepare!
Here’s how: on a precooked pizza crust, scatter crumbled gorgonzola cheese. Spread the chopped onion over the gorgonzola then arrange ¼ inch slices of Bosc pears atop that. Add walnuts, shredded cheddar cheese and fresh ground pepper; bake at 350° F for 12-15 minutes. Serves 2 or 3.
Apple Brie Kulcha
Bring the edges of the kulcha dough to the center and pinch closed then flatten with your hand or a rolling pin until it is about an inch and a half thick.
It is OK if a couple of the seams open, this will allow steam to vent. Press sliced almonds into the top, sprinkle with a little more cinnamon and bake on a jelly roll pan in a 325 F oven for 30-35 minutes or until dough browns. This makes a nice dessert and a lovely brunch addition. Serves 6-8.
Salmon and Onion Stuffed Kulcha
I had a bit of leftover canned salmon, which normally inspires an omelet, however this time I decided to stuff a kulcha instead. Am I glad I did.
To create the filling drain the salmon, add a pinch of cumin plus a dash of powdered Chinese mustard, along with ½ cup of minced onion and mix well. Make a 12-inch round with kulcha dough, then dust it with dill and garlic. In the same manner as with the apple brie kulcha, mound the filling in the center of the dough, then fold the edges over, pinching seams until you’ve created a closed pocket, save for a couple steam vents. Flatten the kulcha to about an 1 inch with your hand or a rolling pin, bake in a 350 F oven for 25-30 minutes or until dough browns. Serves 4-6.
I hope these simple recipes encourage you to discover a dozen new ways to prepare this satisfying flatbread.