Sunday, November 16, 2014

Layered Flat Bread From Dhaka, Bangladesh

Our gracious kitchen of the month for the Bread Baking Babes is Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen. This month she asked us to make "bakharkhani, a layered and very rich bread, made in the manner somewhat like puff pastry...(it) is popular in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. In India, it is typically found in states where history, food and culture are influenced by the Mughal rule like Lucknow, Hyderabad and Kashmir.

This flat bread seems to be different in different parts of the world where it exists. It can be a savoury or slightly sweet, leavened or unleavened, soft or crisp, eaten for breakfast or served with tea, and even like a paratha (Sylheti Bakharkhani from Bangladesh). The softer leavened versions of Bakharkhani are usually served with kebabs and meat curries."

This recipe makes a great, flaky baked good that is a cross between puff pastry and a biscuit. I love the nice crust that developed on the bottom and how it contrasted with the rich, flaky, moist interior. I had mine with a cup of hot tea and a little cherry jam and it was delicious! I only made a half recipe to avoid being tempted to eat too many. Sweetie likes them, too.

One of the ingredients that took me three tries to secure is the mawa, which is a milk curd like ingredient. Elizabeth figured out how to make a faux mawa with dried powdered milk, melted butter and milk. After trying to make it in the slow cooker and failing (a skin formed, so the water in the milk didn't evaporate and that evaporation is a crucial part of making mawa), a half-hearted attempt to make it in a pan on the stove (I ran out of energy and it takes a lot of stirring for a long time), it was great to see how easily Elizabeth's version went together. I used the microwave instead of the toaster oven and put the mixture back in the microwave for a few more minutes once the powdered milk had be mixed into the liquid mix because it was too plastic and I wanted it to be more crumbly. Worked like a charm. Thanks Elizabeth! I owe you.

I've made ghee in the past but actually went with melted and partially browned butter instead. With the milk solids already part of the bread due to the mawa, it didn't make sense to me to eliminate them for the brushed on butter part. I used a fine screen sieve to sprinkle the flour as evenly as possible over the rolled out dough.

Give this a try and become a Buddy. It is always fun to try something different and the flavor and textures of this should encourage you, too. Be sure to go to Aparna's blog HERE to see how she wants you to let her know you are a buddy and to see the original recipe and how to make the real mawa and to make ghee. Thank you Aparna for such a lovely recipe. I think these would be great accompaniments the next time I make the spiced butternut squash that Sweetie loves.

Dhakai Bakharkhani
(half recipe - makes about 5-6)

1 cup flour, plus more for rolling out the dough and sprinkling over the ghee
2 tablespoons mawa (Elizabeth's recipe below)
2 tablespoons ghee or melted unsalted butter, plus more for spreading on the dough while rolling out and folding
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup water (a little less or more if needed)
sesame seeds, to sprinkle - optional

Elizabeth's faux mawa:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon milk

4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) skim milk powder
In a heatproof bowl, heat the cold butter and milk until butter is melted and mixture starts to can use the microwave like I did, or the toaster oven like Elizabeth did. Remove from heat and stir in the milk powder and stir vigorously until well combined. Heat and additional minute or two if needed. The mixture should be moist but crumbly.

For the Bakharkhani:
In a large bowl, put the flour, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Crumble the mawa (see recipe above for faux version or HERE for actual recipe) into it and mix in. Than add the ghee and use your fingers to rub it into the flour. Add the water, a little at a time, and knead well until you have a smooth and elastic dough that can be rolled out very thin.

Cover the bowl with cling wrap or a damp kitchen towel to prevent it from drying. Let it rest for about 30 minutes to an hour. Then lightly coat the dough with a little ghee and then let it rest for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Lightly coat your rolling pin and board or working surface with some ghee or oil.

Roll out the dough as thin as possible into a rectangle, without adding any flour. It should be thin enough for you to see your work surface through the rolled out dough.

Brush some ghee (not too much) all over the surface of the rolled out dough with your fingers (I used a pastry brush). Sprinkle some flour evenly over this, enough so that the ghee is absorbed when spread out. The flour layer should be thin. Brush some more ghee, again, over this and then sprinkle some flour this like previously. 

Fold the dough into half and once again repeat the process of brushing the ghee and sprinkling the flour over this twice, as before. Fold the dough for a second time and repeat the brushing with ghee and flouring, twice. (I did one layer, folded, one layer, folded, one layer, folded, then rolled it all out, did one more layer, folded and rolled it up.)

Roll up the dough into a long cylinder and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Pinch off lemon sized balls and roll each one into a small, round flat bread about 1/8" thick and approximately 4" in diameter. If using sesame seeds, sprinkle them on and lightly press into the dough. Make three cuts centrally and lengthwise on each flat bread using a knife.

Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake in preheated oven for about 20 - 25 minutes or until they're light brown on top. Do not over bake.

Let them cool and serve with coffee or tea. 


  1. I'm glad you liked these flatbreads, Elle. They've turned perfect and puffed.
    Shortcuts are fine so long as they lead you where you want to be.
    I've noted down that easy mawa recipe for next time. :)

  2. Breads from other cultures are always such a fun challenge. Mawa... hm. I wonder if there's not some kind of cheese curd product like it... Interesting how ghee is so easy to find, but not much else. We need a South Asian market nearby!

    This looks really tasty.

  3. I wish that I could take credit for the shortcut mawa, Elle! But the only thing I did was to find it on the net (I pretty much followed this recipe: )

    And how clever are you to justify using melted browned butter instead of ghee because there are milk solids in the bread anyway. And browning the butter was especially brilliant. I wish I'd thought of that!

    Your bakharkhani look wonderful!

  4. Thanks for the pic of the mawa... I was having a hard time picturing that LOL
    Lovely, flaky breads. One (or 2) would be really good with my coffee (hint, hint)

  5. They are beautiful Elle! I agree on your substituting melted browned butter for the ghee. I made the last, but that wasn't really necessary I guess. Did like the taste and aroma from the nutty butter though!

  6. They are beautiful Elle! I agree on your substituting melted browned butter for the ghee. I made the last, but that wasn't really necessary I guess. Did like the taste and aroma from the nutty butter though!

  7. We both failed with the slow cooker mawa!
    Love your rational with the browned butter. Actually I think that was why I used the skim milk instead of water for liquid, this just seems to be about the milk solids anyway.
    Terrific how you got some of that layering to show!
    I made the full recipe ... but baked only half. I put the other half in fridge thinking it will be just happy in a couple of days to make it's way into the oven.

  8. I love the layers in your flatbreads. I kept trying to roll them out, but that's part of their charm. Yours look perfect!

  9. That sounds so interesting. I like your attitude toward the ghee too!