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Changing up a Classic

So I approached today with an expectation that dinner would be quick and comforting.  What's more comforting on a winter day than a bowl of tomato soup, right?  Kids love it and it's a make in a flash kind of meal.  To spice things up and keep with this New Year's culinary theme I figured I would search for a tomato soup recipe from another land.  India came through big time and spice it up I did!

Sometimes the sound of a thing is endearing.  "Tamatar Ka Shorba" rolls off the tongue with so much more flair than "tomato soup."  I'll admit that I wasn't sure how my boys would respond, but they were charmed.  We pulled out a CD of Indian music and listened to these rich and interesting sounds as our kitchen burst into the pungent smells of ginger, cumin, coriander and garlic.  Truth be told, this soup doesn't look much different in the pot than my go-to tomato soup, but the smells are a complete sensory feast.

Now, normally I would make the boys fresh croutons or a grilled "cheeze" sandwich to dip in the soup.  Tonight I opted to try my hand at creating a gluten free naan.  Now, anyone who has ever baked gluten free, egg free, dairy free bread knows that the texture of the dough is entirely different than traditional dough.  Was I skeptical when I had to sort of smear the dough onto my baking stone... yes.  Was I pleasantly suprised with the crisped crusts and slightly puffed rounds of baked goodness... yes!  I am not sure I can call it naan, but what I made definitely qualifies as a tasty gfv yeasted flatbread and we all gave it a thumbs up.

Right, here's the roadmap:
Tamatar Ka Shorba - Indian Tomato Soup

3 cups of diced fresh tomato or 28 oz canned fire roasted tomato
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated -- about 2 inches of fresh ginger will do it
1 Tbsp garlic, smashed and minced -- about 3 cloves
1 Tbsp garam masala
2 Bay leaves -- if you've never worked with bay before, you leave the leaf whole, drop it in the soup for flavor and remove it before serving
1 Tbsp cilantro
1 tsp cumin seeds 
1 Tbsp Sugar (optional) -- I didn't need the sugar, but the soup does have a slight sour twinge so you might
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small green chili pepper, split in half lengthwise and de-seeded
pinch of salt

Let's make soup!  Start by washing and dicing the fresh tomatoes, if you're using fresh.  If you're using canned tomatoes just pull out the can opener and crack open the tin! Either way, cook your choice tomatoes with the ginger, garlic, green chilies and Garam Masala. Add about 5 cups of water the bay leaf. Now bring everything to a boil.

Simmer for twenty minutes on a slow flame until tomatoes are really soft. You can tranfer the soup to your blender and give it a quick whirl to pulverize the mixture or you can strain the mixture with a soup strainer to remove the tomato skins and bits. (**quick note about heat -- if you aren't into super spicy you can remove the chili pepper before you blend the mix, but if you like spice leave it.)  While the soup is out of the pot give it a quick wipe with a clean towel and then heat your oil in the pan. Add your lovely cumin seeds, (let them crackle a bit and get super fragrant.) Add your whizzed or strained tomato liquid and season it with a pinch of salt. Bring the soup back to a gentle boil.  Now's the time to taste.  If your soup is super sour, add a bit of suger, stir and taste again.  It's about balance.

Serve tamatar ka shorba piping hot with a sprinkle of minced cilantro.

My Experimental Gluten Free-Naan-Like Flatbread

½ cup almond milk or milk of your choice
2 tsp dried yeast
½ cup teff flour
½ cup tapioca flour
½ cup rice flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp xanthan gum
6 Tbsp soy sour cream (like Tofutti) --- or strained plain soy yogurt

We're going to preheat the oven to 500 degrees or 550 if you've got that kind of power.  If you've got a pizza stone, set it on the lowest rack in your oven.  If you don't have a pizza stone, prep a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and set it aside.

In the meantime, pour your milk into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over it.  Give that a few minutes to bloom... Bloom and grow, forever.... edelweiss... edelweiss... And now that our Sound of Music interlude is over and the yeast has bloomed, we're good to go.  So, tip in the flours and all of the other ingredients and get your mixing blade armed for action.

You're going to want to mix this dough until it is well combined.  It's not going to be like a regular bread dough at all because it's gluten free. It's going to be wet and you're going to wonder if you're making a major mistake.  You might be, but you might be right.  Time will tell!  So, I beat the dough for 6-8 minutes before I felt that it was ready.  The dough was a bit sticky but not a sloppy wet mess.  If yours is gloppy, go ahead and adjust by adding a couple of tablespoons of teff flour and mixing again.  I really doubt that things will be too dry, but you can add a few drops of almond milk if you need to.

Right, hopefully you've got a pizza stone in your oven that's screaming hot.  You can work right on your pizza stone, but if not, rip out a piece of parchment paper and divide your dough into 3 pieces.  You'll be spreading the dough out into circles and it's going to take a little work.  You have to push this dough around a bit and show it who's boss.  We're aiming for a bit less thick than ½ an inch.

When you're ready to roll, get things into the oven and leave them for about 15 minutes.  You should be able to use a large spatula to turn the rounds (which should be crispy on the bottom now).  Once flipped, bake for another 10 minutes until fragrant and irresistable. 

Pull them out of the oven and let them cool slightly before serving with your soup.
soft interior with great texture

Can you see the crusty exterior here?  Soft inside, crusty outside.  Nice.