Mixed Focaccia with Celery Pesto

An Italian bread, best served with celery pesto and a drizzle of olive oil tastes heavenly.

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar

Ingredients for making MIXED FOCACCIA

1 cup Maida (Refined flour)
1/2 tsp Dried yeast
1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 Onion finely chopped
1 tsp Chilli flakes
1/2 tsp Ajwain or 2 tbsp Thyme leaves or 1 tbsp Dried thyme
2 tbsps Olive oil
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
3 tbsps Chopped black olives

METHOD

Activate the yeast by adding it to half cup of luke warm water with 1/4 spoon of sugar. Stir, cover and leave it aside for 20-25 mins to rise. Take a big bowl, sift the maida once and make a well in the centre. Add the risen yeast mix, sugar, salt, olive oil, turmeric powder, onion, chilli flakes, ajwain or thyme, chopped olives and mix well. Cover with a wet cloth and close it with a lid and leave aside for four hours to prove. After 4 hours, mix it slightly and cover again for 1 more hour. Grease a round baking dish with olive oil and put the bread mix in the dish. Spread with your hands well. Prick here and there gently with a fork on the top. Pre-heat the oven for 5 mins and bake at 180 deg centigrade for 15 mins till the crust is golden. Cool on a wire rack and brush with olive oil on the surface. Cut to wedges and serve with celery pesto.

Before and after pictures of Focaccia bread

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar

Ingredients for making CELERY PESTO

1 1/4 cups Celery chopped with leaves
4 Basil leaves
3 Mint leaves
A handful of spinach leaves
1 sprig of Dill leaves (Suva/Savaa)
1 Garlic clove chopped
1/2 cup Blanched and peeled almonds
Salt to taste
1/2 cup Olive oil
5 tbsps Grated parmesan cheese

METHOD

Blend the almonds to a coarse powder and keep it aside. In the same mixer jar, add all the other ingredients and blend it to a paste. Finally, add the coarse almond powder to the paste and give it a quick grind.
Serve it with warm focaccia.

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar

Chef’s tips

1. Sifting the flour gives a uniform texture.
2. Adding spinach to the pesto gives a vibrant green colour and also increases the nutritive value.
3. Exclude chilli flakes when baking for children.
4. Celery pesto can be mixed with cooked pasta also.
5. Grinding almonds with skin will discolour the pesto.

RASAKALAN

A typical Kerala dish, very tasty and goes well with plain rice, dosai, pongal, arisi upma and pidi kozhukattai.

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar

INGREDIENTS

Peeled and cubed raw banana – 1
Peeled and cubed white pumpkin and yellow pumpkin – each 1 cup
Cubed yam – 1 cup
Broad beans(Avaraikkai)chopped to big pieces – 1/2 cup
Chopped drumstick – 1
Cubed raw mango pieces with skin – 1/2 cup
Cubed chow chow(Chayote)- 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Jaggery – a small piece
Whisked curds(Yoghurt/Dahi) – 1 1/2 cups

FRY IN OIL AND GRIND FINELY

Coconut oil – 1 teaspoon
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Methi seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Raw rice – 1 tablespoon
Green chillies – 2
Dry red chillies – 5
Channa dhal – 1 teaspoon

TO SEASON

Coconut oil – 2 tablespoons
Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
Chopped curry leaves – 1 tablespoon

METHOD

Take a big pan. Add 3 1/2 cups of water. Boil chow chow, yam, drumstick and white pumpkin on medium flame. After 10 minutes, add the broad beans(Avaraikkai), red pumpkin and raw banana. After 5 minutes, add turmeric powder and mango pieces. When the vegetables are cooked, add jaggery and salt to taste. Give a boil. Add the ground paste. Keep on low flame and simmer till thick.
Switch off the flame. Add the whisked curds and mix well. Season in coconut oil, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Stir well. Serve hot!

©Deepa Sekhar
©Deepa Sekhar

CHEF’S TIPS

1) Fry the grated coconut in coconut oil till golden and grind, thereby the rasakalan will be fresh till the evening.
2) Chop the raw mango with skin so that the pieces will not become mushy.
3) Switch off the flame and add curds. Before adding, whisk the curds well so that the dish will have an uniform consistency.