Nepalese bread with a twist

                                                                                                                                                Photo: Ricardo Bernardo 2021

Could these be the Nepalese answer to potato chips? These breadsticks bite back. Gauge your tolerance for heat as you decide how much pepper to use. Inspiration here comes from two sources. In the first instance I was trying to emulate some bread that Nepalese chef Santos Shah cooked on Masterchef.

My only source of inspiration
and secondly I wanted to use the on trend Nepalese ingredient Timut pepper.Chef Shah called his creation jungle bread and included anchovy. He baked it on lemongrass skewers ( see above ).Having tried a version with anchovy, as much as we love them we were not convinced. Instead of baking them on skewers, camp fire bread stick style, I incorporated lemongrass powder into the ingredients along with paprika to give the bread a rounded smoky finish.

Salt and Timut pepper breadsticks

450g/1lb strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 x 7g/⅛oz sachet fast-action dried yeast
1 heaped teaspoon lemongrass powder
1½ tsp Flor de sal
250–275ml / 9-10fl oz warm water
vegetable oil or spray o iil, for oiling
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp Flor de sal
2 tbsp freshly ground Timut black pepper

Dust two large baking trays with flour.
Put the flour, yeast, lemongrass powder and the salt into a large bowl and add enough of the water to make a soft but not sticky dough. Knead well for 10 minutes by hand on a lightly floured work surface or for five minutes if using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions, each weighing about 60g/2½oz. Roll the portions into balls, then place each ball on a floured surface and roll into a long sausage shape about 25cmx2cm/10inx1in. (For the best visual results make the sausage shape an even thickness.)
I like to shape half of them into twists. Run a knife down the centre to split the dough, leaving a bit at one end uncut. Braid or plait the two halves over each other to give a twisted effect.
Place the breadsticks on the prepared baking trays, spacing them 4cm/1½in apart. Cover the breadsticks loosely with oiled clingfilm, making sure it is airtight. Leave in warm place for 30 minutes, or until the breadsticks have almost doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Remove the clingfilm and brush each breadstick with the extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle half of the breadsticks with the sea salt and the remainder with the freshly ground black pepper. Bake on the top third of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the breadsticks are lightly golden-brown and feel firm to the touch. Remove the breadsticks from the oven and leave to cool on the baking trays.


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