Most cultures around the world have their own unique versions of flat bread which are generally inexpensive and quick to make, while tasting delicious.
We asked UCOL Whanganui chef lecturer and programme leader Jan MacGibbon to share some of her favourite recipes with Whanganui Chronicle readers.
MacGibbon has more than 20 years' experience as a chef, with the past 12 spent in Whanganui where she formerly owned the Yellow House Cafe.
"Today we are looking at quick and easy breads that we can make at home with a few staple ingredients, which you are likely to have in your pantry," MacGibbon said.
"These flat breads or alternatively leavened breads can be used in place of traditional bread that uses yeast as its raising agent."
The recipes are ones she teaches at UCOL Whanganui and they have become seasoned favourites with both past and present students as well as staff.
"They can be utilised in a number of ways, such as to help mop up that delicious curry that you have made, as wraps for pulled meats or barbecue meats or to accompany soups. You are really only limited by your imagination."
Flat breads can be made on the barbecue, in an electric frying pan or just in a regular stovetop pan.
"Some of these recipes call for buttermilk. If you don't have any, you can make a good alternative by adding two teaspoons of either lemon juice or white vinegar to 200ml of standard milk and stir it together then let it stand for five minutes before use."
5g baking powder
5g baking soda
120g warm milk
1. Place the sieved, dry ingredients into a bowl, mix together and make a well in the centre.
2. Add the warm milk, buttermilk and oil and mix together. Tip out onto the bench and knead for approximately 3 minutes until the dough is smooth. Rest in a covered bowl in a warm place for 1 hour.
3. Divide dough into 100g pieces and roll into a round shape. Allow to rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
4. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 3mm in thickness. Fry in a hot pan using a little oil until it starts to bubble and colour.
5. Brush with melted butter.
Pakwan is an Indian fried bread with a crisp and crunchy texture.
300g plain flour
½ tsp salt
Water to make the dough
1. Sieve the flour with salt, make a well, add the ghee and enough water to make a soft pliable dough; cover and set aside to rest for 1 hour.
2. Make small balls from the dough and flatten with a rolling pin, roll them into 7cm to 8cm discs or circles. Prick with a fork.
3. Fry in hot oil until the pakwan are crisp and golden.
4. Drain the pakwan on paper towels to remove excess oil.
Note: Ghee is easily made at home by melting butter, gently, in a saucepan. The milk fat will settle to the bottom and the clarified butter is the clear yellow liquid, or you can purchase it from most supermarkets.
Brown soda bread
225g whole wheat (wholemeal) flour
225g all-purpose (plain) flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
50g mixed seeds, such as sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, golden flax seeds (linseed)
25g butter, softened
1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
2. Sift together the flours, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl and mix in the seeds. Add the butter and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips until it resembles bread crumbs. Make a well in the centre.
3. In another bowl, whisk the egg with the buttermilk and pour most of the liquid into the flour mixture. Using one hand with your fingers outstretched, bring the flour and liquid together, adding more of the buttermilk mixture if necessary. The dough should be quite soft, but not too sticky.
4. Turn onto a floured work surface and gently bring the dough together into a round, divide into 6 even pieces and lightly roll into a flat ball. Cut a deep cross on top and place on a baking sheet.
5. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn down the heat to 200C and bake for 30 minutes more. When done, the loaf will sound slightly hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from the baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool.
Note: Soda bread is suitable for those who suffer from yeast intolerance. The seeds are merely there to add texture; on occasion I only have pumpkin seeds on hand and it has been fine. You can also pop these into greased muffin tins and sprinkle additional seed on the top to offer alternative presentation. These go great with soup on a cool autumn evening.
MacGibbon said the recipes are ideal accompaniments to warming meals and provide ideal opportunities for children to get involved.
"Have fun with these recipes - they are a great way to get your kids involved in the kitchen and for them to practice everyday maths and numeracy while measuring and weighing.