Pull-apart bread rolls

Way back in the 1970s, my maternal grandmother picked up a copy of one of Tarla Dalal’s first cookbooks—The Delights of Vegetarian Cooking. A lot of our family’s tastes developed from there. I think Tarla Dalal should be given credit for introducing middle class India to International cuisines. She definitely had her own take on them, but at least it was a starting point. Many years later, Sanjeev Kapoor came on the scene and changed everything—he showed the nation how  to chop an onion like a professional chef, he taught us new terms such as “sauté” and “blind baking,” and took us all over the country and abroad, inviting us to imagine new flavor marriages. But it all started with the homely, Indianized cooking of Tarla Dalal, who took our favorite flavors and put them in strange sounding dishes like Khowsuey and Canneloni.

As a teenager just developing an interest in cooking, I would pull out the many cookbooks in the house and read them like one reads novels. I would imagine flavor pairings and presentations, textures and aromas. A lot of the cookbooks we had around were published in the western part of the world, and several critical ingredients were not available locally as they are today—a fact that left a very eager teenager quite irritated. It was Tarla Dalal’s The Delights of Vegetarian Cooking that usually came to the rescue. It was well written and all the ingredients were easily available in my mother’s tiny pantry.  I would follow recipes very religiously for a while before I developed the confidence impatience to make my own experiments. The book is now without its jacket, and the pages are yellowed, if not torn. But it sits proudly in Amma’s kitchen bookshelf, and catches my eye every so often.

As I was browsing through it today, I was tempted to try the recipe for dinner rolls (she recommends ghee instead of butter or any other kind of fat!) to go with the pasta that Amma was making for dinner. The only change I made was adding bran, shaping them as a pull-apart loaf, and sprinkling some stuff to jazz things up. They turned out great, and were polished off at dinner today.

Here’s the recipe (adapted from Tarla Dalal’s The Delights of Vegetarian Cooking)

  • 450 gms flour
  • 3 tbsp. wheat bran
  • 2 tsp. dried yeast
  • 1 and ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 25 gms (about 2 tbsp.) ghee (or other fat of choice)
  • Sesame seeds, chili flakes, cheddar cheese powder  for topping
  • 1 tsp. oil for brushing


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade.
  2. Place the yeast and sugar in a small jar or glass and pour on some lukewarm water (about ½ a cup) and leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes.
  3. Place the flour and bran in a large basin and combine lightly.
  4. Once the yeast is frothy, pour the liquid into the flour and knead to a soft and pliable dough.
  5. Cream the ghee and the salt together and work into the dough. Knead well until you have a smooth and soft dough, adding more water as required.
  6. Cover with moist muslin and leave in a warm place (like on top of your oven) for about 20 minutes or until double in size.
  7. Meanwhile, grease a pan of choice; I used an 8-inch round, loose-bottomed, non-stick pan. Grease lightly and dust with flour.
  8. Knock back the dough and knead lightly once more. Divide the dough into portions according to your need. I made mine about the size of a medium tomato. (Remember, the rolls will rise to double their size)
  9. Place not too far apart nor too close in the pan, allowing just enough space for them to rise and stick to each other just a bit.
  10. Prove again, for 20 minutes.
  11. Sprinkle some water on the rolls and adorn with choice of topping.
  12. Bake for about half an hour or until double in size and browned to your liking.
  13. Remove and brush with oil. Allow to cool completely.
  14. Eat with family and friends over a noisy and laughter-filled dinner table.

Comments (13)

  1. simply.food May 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    These bread rolls looks really delicious.

  2. Paaka Shaale May 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Ohhh these rolls look fabulous!!! Loved the shots as well 🙂

  3. Anonymous May 27, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    The bread rolls look very interesting with the sesame-chilli-cheddar topping, they have puffed up beautifully. Is that a springform pan that you have used?

  4. Anonymous May 28, 2011 at 6:59 am

    Hi Dear,
    I agree to u completely on TD, she has ruled Indian kitchens with her simplified cooking and I'm a big fan of SK's cooking too.
    I love hommade bread, infact I posted a one a few days back and the topping on your rolls is tempting me to try this version too. Lovely clicks.

  5. Santosh Bangar May 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    perfect baking breadrolls looking tempting

  6. Magpie's Recipes May 30, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Thanks so much for visiting my blog!Nice to meet you and your wonderful space as well! those rolls look awesome!
    Do let me know if you try the scrambled egg curry! Would love to know how it turned out for you 🙂

  7. RAKS KITCHEN June 2, 2011 at 7:11 am

    Nice bread bake look very nice!

  8. Kadhyaa... June 3, 2011 at 3:34 am

    nice shots with that awesome lukin bread. i havnt baked one till now.

  9. soumya May 21, 2013 at 11:04 am

    hi, which Indian brand for dry yeast did you use? let me know. I tried a similar recipe today but the yeast did not even get activated. 🙁

    • admin May 22, 2013 at 6:08 am

      I use a commercial brand called Prime Yeast. Look online for instant dry yeast, Soumya. It works much better. Or look for fresh yeast. 🙂

  10. KEtan May 23, 2013 at 3:25 am

    I have a feeling baking is going to be my next passion. 🙂

    Yummy looking rolls!

  11. Devki December 13, 2013 at 3:50 am

    Awesome…I am glued to your Blog like always….:)

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