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It took me so many years to get a second naan recipe on the blog and this one, with its silky, brioche-like texture and molten swirls of Cheddar cheese, is not unlike my first post from 2011. Sabaah, from Kitchen Delights, describes the Mauritian naan as being ‘one of the most famous foods sold during Ramadan’ with door-to-door sellers putting forth their products on a daily basis right throughout the fasting period. While it has now become easy and convenient to purchase any naan from your local bakery or supermarket, it nevertheless generates a feeling of contentment to knead your dough, prepare your stuffing and finally take a golden baked naan out of your kitchen oven once a while.

MAURITIAN CHEESE NAAN

Ingredients:

375g white bread flour

1 teaspoon instant yeast

1 egg, room temperature

120ml lukewarm milk

50g butter, melted

50g pure ghee, melted

1 teaspoons caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon kitchen salt

50g butter, room temperature

100g Cheddar cheese, grated

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Method:

  • In a large bowl combine the two flours. Add the salt and sugar, mix well and then add instant yeast.

  • Make a well in the center, add melted butter, ghee, egg and milk and combine everything together.

  • If more liquid is needed, add warm water very little at a time, so that it does not form sticky dough.

  • Transfer the dough to a counter surface and knead for 10 to 12 minutes till dough is soft and elastic.

  • Grease bowl and transfer the dough. Cover with a clean kitchen towel allow to rest in a warm place.

  • Once it has doubled in size, divide dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each one into a rectangular shape.

  • Spread room temperature butter all over, then sprinkle with cheese and roll each as for a Swiss roll.

  • Now shape each roll make a spiral shape. Allow to rise for further 30mins then brush with egg wash.

  • Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and bake in preheated oven at 200oC for about 20 minutes till golden.

  • Remove from oven and cool briefly on wire rack before brushing with extra melted butter. Serves 4.

Mauritian Cheese Naan

This year’s Fête du Pain was celebrated with the usual enthusiasm and grandeur with bread baking competitions held between bakeries, pastry chefs from renowned hotels as well as amateur bakers all over the island. Since its first edition in 1992, this annual event has become an integral part of the Mauritian culture, celebrating our staple food item under its various shapes, textures and preparation methods.

Who can do without the traditional pain maison on their breakfast table or in their daily lunchbox? The average Mauritian cannot honestly enjoy a hot batch of gato piments without a crusty loaf of freshly buttered French baguette just as he finds it difficult to appreciate a slice of homemade poudine dipain without leftover bread that has aged for days. Bread, under its different facets, forms an undeniable component of our eating habits, especially so with the advent of special breads on the local market such as gluten free and multigrain varieties to cater for everyone’s needs.

To mark the celebrations, I made this lot of brioche buns, light and buttery with bits of candied fruit in those cute flower-shaped brioche molds I have not used in a while. The recipe is from Blédor, the well known brand distributed by Les Moulins de la Concorde, which has been hosting the baking completion Les Duels Gourmands for the past 4 weeks to encourage Mauritians across the country to participate in the underrated art of bread baking.

BLEDOR BRIOCHE BUNS

Ingredients:

500g all purpose flour

3 eggs, room temperature

60g granulated sugar

10g kitchen salt

10g instant yeast

175ml liquid milk

150g unsalted butter

1.25g bread improver

75g candied fruit cubes

Method:

  • Combine eggs, sugar, salt, bread improver, milk and yeast in mixer bowl fitted with dough attachment.

  • Add flour gradually, mix at low speed until it forms loose, shaggy dough. Increase speed progressively.

  • Knead for about 3 minutes then add softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and knead to incorporate.

  • Knead until dough is smooth and slightly elastic. Transfer to a large bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.

  • Leave the dough to proof in a warm environment for about 1 hour until it has almost doubled in volume.

  • Pat down and lightly fold in candied fruit, then divide dough into portions of equal weight, using a scale.

  • Shape each portion into the traditional ‘brioche’ shape with a small knot on top. Place in brioche molds.

  • Preheat oven to 200oC. Leave dough to proof for another 30 minutes till it rises above the rim of molds.

  • Brush the top with milk or egg glaze and bake for about 15 minutes until well risen and golden in colour.

  • Turn out to cool slightly on wire rack, then serve warm with tea. Makes 8 large or 12 small brioche buns.

Blédor Brioche Challenge

After last year’s success of my 7-day Tour de Maurice, I wanted to repeat the experience for my upcoming birthday. It did not take me long to map out my travel plan and organize a tailor-made package for my first ever visit to Rodrigues. After hearing several reviews from different sources, I decided to trash the custom made family tours to plan my excursions and select my accommodation all by myself. The basis of the plan was to have minimum connection with the external world and nothing to remind me of work and related issues for a full 5 days!

After an uneventful flight aboard ATR, we landed in Rodrigues past noon and we immediately whisked off to Pirates Lodge, located only a few minutes from St Francois beach, well away from crowds and traffic. We were the only residents there and were quite happy to have the whole lodge to ourselves. Rooms were clean with comfortable beds and thankfully they have AC and fans on both floors. Though we stayed on B&B basis, food was not a problem as we found that there were quite a few snacks within reasonable walking distance whenever we did not feel like cooking.

Waking up early for my morning walk on the beach became my daily routine as I had no trouble getting up at dawn after a good night’s sleep. You can hike down to Trou d’Argent and Anse Bouteille by following the yellow markers on this easy 30-minutes walk or go further north towards Pointe Cotton through beautiful beaches like Anse Ally or Fumier for a swim before breakfast. Breakfast gets served everyday around 8 and is a simple one with bread/butter/ jam, pastries, tea/ coffee/ juice and a fresh fruit platter. It kept us full till lunch time especially when we planned to go on long drives.

Our 4×4 rental allowed to visit most of the northern and southern coast lines and discover the usual tourist spots as well as several roadside stalls selling pickles, salted fish, honey, dried octopus and handicraft. On our 4th day, we booked a very enriching tour with Rodrigues Friendly where we introduced to the typical aspects of Rodriguan culture through activities like octopus fishing, learning the basics of accordion, basket weaving and the customary Séga Tambour. It even included a culinary hands-on experience where we could actually bake our own tourte, a closed short crust pie filled with caramelized papaya and coconut.

I was not fortunate enough to taste the traditional gâteau maïs during my trip to Rodrigues. However, as a memento of this memorable visit and to honour all the lovely people I encountered during my stay, I wish to share this recipe, from Dans Ma Cuisine Mauricienne et d’Ailleurs, which it seems, is as close to the genuine gâteau as it gets. No need for me to say that I cant wait to go back for another taste of authentic cuisine Rodriguaise which uses only pure, unprocessed ingredients straight from their gardens or fresh catch from local fishermen for simple yet amazingly flavourful dishes.

GATEAU MAIS DE RODRIGUES

Ingredients:

100g butter, softened

250g white caster sugar

6 eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

250g fine cornmeal/ polenta

100g desiccated coconut

3 tablespoons full cream milk

30g raisins, soaked in water

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180oC. Grease and line a 8-inch or 9-inch round sandwich tin with parchment paper.

  • Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl until creamy. Add egg yolks and beat well till it is pale yellow.

  • Fold in cornmeal and milk into the butter mixture until everything is well combined and homogenous.

  • eat egg whites until they form soft peaks and carefully fold into batter until there is no trace of whites.

  • Fold in raisins and pour the batter gently into the prepared tin. Bake for about 50 minutes until golden.

  • Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes in tin before turning out. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

With love from Rodrigues

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