This has really been the month of flatbreads for me and I have more coming soon! When I made Za'atar Bread, karyn of HotPotato threatened to move in with me if I ever made Onion Kulcha. So naturally I had to try it, though I did warn her she'd have to sleep on the couch. I found this wonderful tutorial on Northern Indian Breads at eGullet, complete with very helpful photos, and followed the recipe given almost exactly.
As with the lahmajouns and za'atar bread, making kulcha added an elemental rhythm to my day, though I noticed real differences in the behaviour of the naan dough--it was much more elastic and stretchy when I was rolling it out. I was interested to see that it was leavened with baking powder instead of yeast, too (though I did find a very few recipes calling for yeast and time to proof the dough). The end result had that wonderful chewy texture you experience when you order naan in a good Indian restaurant. They were quite nice the next day, too, but absolutely fabulous right out of the oven. Kulcha really should not be made ahead.
Monica Bhide and Chef Sudhir Seth, from the Northern Indian Breads tutorial at eGullet
makes 8 onion kulchas
Prepare the Naan Dough:
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon yogurt
4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (for baking tray)
Whisk together the milk, sugar, water, yogurt and egg.
Place the flour, salt and baking powder in a large shallow bowl. Mix well.
Pour the liquid onto the flour and begin to knead. Continue kneading until you have a soft dough. If you need more liquid, add a few tablespoons of warm water. Knead for at least 10 minutes, or until you have a soft dough that is not sticky. Oil the dough, cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm place for 1½ - 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
While the dough is rising, prepare the filling:
2 small red onions, finely chopped
1small hot chili pepper, minced
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
1 teaspoon red chili powder
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons melted butter or clarified butter
2 teaspoons cilantro, minced for garnish
small boiled potato, grated (optional)
Squeeze out all the water from the chopped onions. If the onions still appear to be watery, add a small boiled grated potato to your filling. In a mixing bowl combine all the filling to form a lumpy consistency. Set aside until the dough has risen and is ready to form into kulchas.
Assembling the Onion Kulchas:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and lightly oil two baking sheets.
Lightly dust the rolling surface with flour. Roll the dough into a log and cut it into 8 equal portions. Take one portion of the dough and roll into a ball between the palms of your hands, flattening the ball. Place it on the floured surface and roll it out into a circle about 6 inches in diameter.
Add a tablespoon of the filling to the center and bring the sides up and together, pinching them to seal and form a ball (at this point I advise you to go and look at the excellent photos in the tutorial). Flatten lightly. Dust very lightly with flour. Roll again about 5 - 6 inches in diameter.
Dip your fingers in water and moisten the surface of the kulcha very lightly. Sprinkle with a few minced cilantro leaves. Continue until you have made 8 kulchas (four per baking sheet).
Place the kulchas in the oven for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot.