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Kate’s Coconut Kala Chala Breads

These round loaves, flavoured with curry spices and nigella seeds, are stuffed with a rich mix of chickpeas, desiccated coconut, coconut milk and aromatic spices. Serve warm from the oven with curry.

Makes: 4 medium breads

Hands-on time: 1 hour

Baking time: 20 minutes

Skill level: Easy

For the flavoured dough:

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast

1 tablespoon curry powder

8g salt

40ml olive oil or rapeseed oil, plus extra for working

About 320ml lukewarm water

For the filling:

2 teaspoons rapeseed oil

1 tablespoon black/brown mustard seeds

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

½ teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon garam masala

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon jaggery or Demerara sugar

100g desiccated coconut (unsweetened)

30g sultanas

1 x 400g can kala chana (or chickpeas), drained and rinsed

200ml coconut milk

Sea salt, to taste

You will also need:

Large baking sheet, lined with baking paper


Step 1 – Start by making the bread dough: place the flour into a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, and mix in the yeast with your hand. When thoroughly combined, mix in the curry powder and the salt, then make a well in the centre of the mixture. Pour the oil into the well and start to work in the flour, using your hand or the dough hook attachment of the mixer (on the slowest speed) – gradually adding enough lukewarm water to make a soft but not sticky dough.

Step 2 – Turn out the dough onto a lightly oiled worktop and knead thoroughly for 10 minutes by hand, or about 7 minutes if using the dough hook on a slow speed, until the dough is very smooth and elastic. Return the dough to the bowl (if you kneaded by hand) then cover tightly with cling film or a snap-on lid and leave on the worktop to prove and rise for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.

Step 3 – Meanwhile make the filling: heat the oil in a deep frying pan, add the mustard seeds and as soon as they start to ‘pop’ turn down the heat and stir in the chopped onion. Cook gently, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes until the onions are very soft and transparent. Stir in the garlic, turmeric, garam masala, cumin and curry powder and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the jaggery (or sugar), coconut, sultanas, kala chana and coconut milk, then cook over a low heat (stirring frequently) for about 10 minutes until sticky, thick and fairly dry. Taste and add salt and more spices as needed. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and leave to cool.

Step 4 – Uncover the bowl of risen dough and punch it down with your knuckles to deflate it. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured worktop, sprinkle the nigella seeds on top and knead in until thoroughly distributed. Weigh the dough and divide it into 4 equal portions.

Step 5 – Take one portion of dough and flatten it to a thick 17cm disc. Spoon 75g of the cooled filling into a mound in the centre of the disc. Gather up the edges of the disc to cover the filling, and pinch them together like a purse. When thoroughly sealed, turn the dough over so the join is underneath. Gently shape into a neat, round bun with your hands, then flatten lightly so the bun is 11cm across. Transfer to the lined baking sheet.

Step 6 – Make the other 3 buns in the same way, setting them well apart on the baking sheet to allow for expansion. Cover the remaining filling and set aside. Ease the baking sheet into a large plastic bag and slightly inflate it so the plastic doesn’t stick to the dough – or, alternatively, cover lightly with cling film. Leave on the worktop to prove for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.

Step 7 – Towards the end of the rising time, heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/Gas 7. Uncover the buns and bake in the heated oven for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. For best results, check the buns after 15 minutes and rotate the sheet so the buns bake evenly.

Step 8 – Transfer to a wire rack and cool slightly before serving. Gently reheat the remaining filling and serve in a heatproof bowl alongside the buns.