Well I must say, I was slightly anxious about logging on to Eat and Dust today. It’s been almost 6 months since I’ve been here – I thought the blog police might have snuck in and closed me down on the grounds of extreme neglect!
The fact is, for the past year I’ve been working on a book about Old Delhi, and for the past few months I’ve done virtually nothing else. Anyway, I finally sent off the first draft last week then promptly collapsed in a heap. When I eventually picked myself up again one of my first thoughts was “My poor blog!”
But what to write about? I’ve hardly left the house recently except to walk the dogs so I have no new street food joints to report (although I intend to put this right very soon). Also, my own cooking has dwindled to the bare minimum – so no new dinner recipes to suggest. I have, though, in the interests of staying sane, managed to keep doing a little baking.
Bizarrely, for someone so keen on sugar, deep-frying and ghee, I suddenly seem to be thinking healthy thoughts. Worrying, I know, I’ll be sending fan mail to Gwyneth ‘no carbs’ Paltrow next! Anyway I’ve been experimenting with all the wonderful grains that are available in India and I have to say it has been a revelation.
According to my husband, whose job it is to pronounce on such things, this recipe for pearl millet crackers with dukkah may well be my best yet. I’m not sure how I feel about that as these crackers are little more than a dinner party twist on what food historian K.T. Achaya once dismissed as the “staple dietary item of the common folk”, bajra ki roti.
But it turns out bajra, or pearl millet, has a delicate sweet, earthy, nutty flavour which made me wonder where it had been all my life. A few minutes in the oven and a sprinkling of the wonderful Egyptian roasted nut and spice mix called dukkah transformed it into total deliciousness.
Incidentally, I’ve become completely addicted to Dukkah recently – my favourite winter soup this year, during the dark days of the first draft, was a roasted carrot soup with a sprinkling of dukkah and yogurt. It’s worth keeping a tub of it in the freezer – I can’t think of many things that wouldn’t be improved by it.
I was so excited I also decided to make a simple cheese to go with the crackers, a sort of firmed-up ricotta made from milk and buttermilk (chaach).