I spent a good chunk of my Saturday morning watching and learning from Nandita while she expertly kneaded, pulled and coaxed flour, sugar, water and yeast to come together to make pillowy soft, perfectly crusted bread in various shapes, sizes and tastes.
My maternal grandpa’s family set up one of the first bakeries in Mangalore - Pinto’s Bakery. Not one to let down the family name, I decided I’d bake bread and carry forward the legacy that had skipped 2 generations. The business of baking bread had other plans for me - it never worked. The yeast didn’t froth, I could not figure out the kneading, the dough never doubled in size. Everything that could wrong, went wrong.
Then I saw Nandita’s tweet and had an epiphany: I should just attend one of her Breaking Bread workshops.
On the menu were five different breads that we were going to bake over the course of the four hour class. The Mumbai Laadi Pav was a bread everyone seemed to be excited about - who doesn’t love a good bhaji with some perfectly crusted pav? The pizza was to die for - the base and the sauce were homemade and the toppings, homegrown. It cannot get anymore fresh and delicious than that. Till you meet the cinnamon rolls, the loaf of bread and foccacia, that is.
I loved how organised everything about the workshop was - right from the email we received a day before that asked about allergies and told you what to get along (yourself, an apron and a box to take home some yummy goodies) to the manner in which the workshop itself was conducted. It was step-by-step recipes, detailed instructions about things that some would dismiss as trivial (how does one measure out 2 cups of flour?) and demystification of various processes by way of science all the way through.
Nandita is a fun teacher - patient, engaging and generous with her knowledge. Her sense of humour and the insights, tips and tricks she shares will keep you hooked. One minute she’s telling you about the Michael Pollan book she read “Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food," the next about "yeast, the living organism” and then you catch her grinning away as she sneaks cointreau into the cinnamon rolls.
Nandita conducts these series of workshops in her beautiful house with an enviable garden full of veggies and herbs in Whitefield. This multi-tasking lady who I’ve known for about four years via Twitter and only met for the first time on Saturday is quite a wonder-woman (as all Moms are?). She’s got something for everyone in the Saffron Trail Kitchen this year and it would do you good to dip in, indulge and learn a little:
- Put your Saturdays and holidays to good use and sign up for her Saffron Trail workshops on everything from baking bread, eggless desserts to fun salads
- There’s a spanking new Youtube channel where she does her awesomesauce thing and shares recipes and #kitchenhacks. (See what I meant about being generous with her knowledge?)
- If you’ve been living under a rock: There’s the Saffron Trail blog that is an exhaustive collection of recipes covering everything from bread to tambram cuisine.