Braided Poppy Seed Bread & Pumpkin Soup

I have baked poppy seed cakes but not poppy seed bread. So when I saw the recipe in a book titled Baking:100 Everyday Recipes I couldn’t wait to get started. I still had a jar of poppy seeds from Kashmir and they had to go into something interesting and delicious. I have added my own twist to the recipe and I have also cut down on the quantity of seeds. The recipe uses much more. The first time I made this, everyone appreciated it and yes, no pictures were taken. But this time a shot graces my post before we break bread…

3 cups whole wheat flour + extra for dusting
Half tsp salt
2 tbs milk powder
2 tbs fine sugar
1 tsp dry yeast (I used Bluebird)
Lukewarm water ( I didn’t measure here but it could have been around 200ml)
3 tbs vegetable oil + extra for brushing
3 tbs poppy seeds
1tbs dried basil ( I’m finding ways and means to finish off my stock of dried basil)

For the topping:
1 tbs milk
1tbs poppy seeds

~Add the yeast to the bowl of lukewarm water. Put in the sugar to activate the yeast. Leave aside till it froths up. It will take about 10 minutes.
~Sift the flour and sugar in a bowl. Stir in the milk powder. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture and the oil. Mix well.
~Add the poppy seeds and knead till the mixture leaves the sides of the bowl.
~Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for about ten minutes.
~Brush a bowl with oil. Shape the dough into a ball and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Leave to rise for an hour or until the dough doubles in size.
~Turn out the dough, knock back, and knead for a few minutes.
~Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape. Cut it into three equal strips and braid.
~Grease a bread tin with oil and place the prepared dough in the tin.
~Cover again with a damp cloth and leave to rise for another thirty minutes.
~Brush the surface of the bread with milk and scatter the poppy seeds all across.
~Bake in a preheated oven at 190 C for 30-35 minutes until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.
~Cool on a wire rack.

Produce from the beautiful Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh

Recently my husband was in the Ziro valley to attend a music festival. He got some wonderful local produce and I have been using many of them in my recipes.
For the pumpkin soup:
1 cup roasted and mashed pumpkin
500 ml chicken stock
1 small onion, finely diced
Pinch of salt & a pinch of pepper (the stock was seasoned earlier)
A quarter tsp smoked and pounded chillies
1 tsp vegetable oil
3-4 serrated coriander leaves

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions till they turn golden brown.
Add the mashed pumpkin, stir and add the stock. Mix again.
Let it cook for a few minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and the chillies.
Add half of the chopped herbs leaving the rest for the garnish.
Cook till the mixture starts to thicken. This will take about 5-6 minutes.
Remove from the stove and let it cool down a bit.
Transfer to serving bowls and add the garnish.

The soup is good for 2-3 servings. The chillies are not the hot variety and it added a little zing and a hint of smokiness in the soup. The pairing with the bread was wonderful!

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