Monday, April 18, 2011


I wanted an easy dinner, but somehow, if I get the bug, it doesn't matter any more.
I was blithely defrosting some tomato sauce when I became worried some of the bag had got stuck and melted into it.
About the only thing I could make dinner with was chickpeas, but I didn't just want falafel, as the recipe I use is pretty dry.
On a whim, I googled flatbread, thinking 'they'll all have yoghurt in and I'll have to eat dried falafel'.
I would love to keep yoghurt in, but it goes off faster than I can use it.

The first result was 'Navajo flatbread'.
I've heard of Navajo fry-bread, mostly because Tony Hillerman, author of murder mysteries set on the huge Navajo reservation in Arizona/New Mexico, is a favourite of mine. (Aside: I'm so glad they named a library after him.)
I've also had fry-bread, when my family had our annual get-together at Warm Springs. It's good, but it's so greasy you can feel oil coming out of your scalp.

Navajo flatbread was a new one on me, and to several of the commenters, who mention fry-bread.
Imagine my surprise when I finally looked at the head of the page - I'd been focused on 'do I have everything?' and 'is it fast enough?' - and it was Jamie Oliver. I'd assumed it was an American hobby-blogger. Score one for his conversational style, I suppose.

So, I'm currently halfway through making them.
At first I thought 'this dough is never going to combine', it was very stiff, very dry, and I think closer to 250ml of water probably went in.
I think every dough recipe I try I begin thinking 'this is never going to work, this is never going to work', and then it began to take on a consistency like a stiff shortbread. Later on, I began to feel the oil coming to the surface.

The recipe says 'set it aside to relax', and that's the stage I'm currently at. 'Relax' though? Does that mean the usual one-and-a-half-hours-to-let-it-double-thing, or just a quick set-aside? I'm going for the latter, because I hope Jamie would have specified, and I want my dinner.

Obviously, I have ten minutes to think while I'm kneading, which I can't fill with Twitter or other mindless internet things, so I spent it getting on my hobbyhorse. I do think unspecific information like that - and I'm not singling out Jamie, I don't like it wherever it appears - scares off cooking newbies. They think 'what's that? How do I do that?' and it becomes this mysterious art full of special words.

I think that's probably why Delia's recipes are so long. They tell you what to expect and what it will look like. There's still that leap of faith - 'is this frothy? is it frothy now?' but it's not as bad. Joy of Cooking is similarly specific about what exactly you must do. I believe that's why they're such household standbys in their respective markets.

Hobbyhorse set down for a moment, while I go see if my dough has chilled out, and get cracking on the falafel.

Well, I've had them. The dough had physically relaxed, so I proceeded...
It was obvious that 1cm thick would be asking too much, so they were about 5mm thick, and they did puff. However, given that they didn't puff much and tasted rather biscuity, I think I really need to heap the tablespoons of baking powder and 'relax' them a bit longer.
I surprised my uncoordinated self by having no trouble at all bashing them out into a circle.

So this is a 'make again with changes' and I'll see if I can get them to puff.