I’m sure most of us will agree that the word ‘authentic’ means barely anything when it comes to food. Recipes change as they move from person to person, ingredients move around the world and people move between countries fusing the various parts of their lives together through cooking; a stitch of spice here, a thread of herbs there.
The more you cook, the less you care about remaining true to recipes and their origins. There may have been a time, for example, when I wouldn’t have added, say, Turkish chilli to a pasta dish because no, that’s the wrong kind of chilli; surely there are stories about someone’s nonna getting upset you amended a family recipe that stretches back generations. I realised over the years, of course, that this is pointless. While I wouldn’t necessarily cook something as steeped in tradition as a ragu, change it and try and then call it a ragu, I would have no problems adding extra bits and calling it ‘the lovely thing that Helen made.’ A snappy name, I think you’ll agree.
The best cooks have no worries about boundaries and yet they still respect the original starting point of a recipe, although good luck identifying where that might be. Once you’re down with the history of a dish then it makes sense to start playing around, otherwise, we’d never have anything new.
Look, runny egg yolks photograph better than flatbreads, ok?
All this is a way of saying I ate my spiced flatbreads and eggs with kimchi for like, two weeks in a row. Some might argue that kimchi is a weird thing to eat with flatbreads and eggs but it absolutely isn’t because it’s just chilli, cabbage and time in a pot, really. These things go with bread, and they go with eggs. Experience in cooking is about learning to trust your own palate and not be told what works and what doesn’t. It’s all about points of reference.
Anyway here’s a recipe for spiced flatbreads which go with so many things – way beyond hummus and other dips. They would be good with grilled meats, for example, or even a curry. They’re perfect to have on hand for a barbecue, and they cook well on the grill too. I say eat them with anything you darn well like and if the food police come knocking, just burp your kimchi jar in their faces.*
*Burping is something you do to release the gases from a fermenting jar, FYI… I’m not suggesting you burp in anyone’s face.
Easy Everyday Spiced Flatbreads Recipe (makes 12 pita-sized flatbreads)
You can make loads of variations on these using herbs like rosemary, for example, or mixing up the spices.
500g strong white flour
2 teaspoons salt
30ml olive oil
300ml warm water
1 packet of instant yeast
1 tablespoon crushed coriander seeds
1 tablespoon crushed cumin seeds
Mix everything together in a bowl and give it a knead. At this point, you can change the texture by either kneading well (around 5 minutes) for a light texture with a hollow middle like a pita bread, or just kneading until smooth if you want a denser bread (they will take longer to cook like this).
Leave the dough in a warm place for an hour or two until it has roughly doubled in size.
Knock back the dough and divide into roughly golf ball sized lumps. When making the balls try to fold the dough in on itself, imagine you’re making a little air pocket inside.
Roll the dough balls flat and then cook for 1-2 minutes in a properly hot, dry pan until a little charred on each side. They will start to puff up when ready.