Michael’s Keralan Star Bread


Series 10

This chilli-spiced bread twisted with coconut chutney is such fun to make – and much easier than it looks. Serve with the homemade mango chutney for extra deliciousness.

Serves: 8
Difficulty: Challenging
Hands-On Time: 1 hr, plus rising and proving
Baking Time: 25 mins, plus 35 mins for the chutney
  • Ingredients
  • Method
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Step 1
Make the dough. Halve the flour into separate mixing bowls. Measure 5g yeast into each mixing bowl, and on the opposite side of each bowl measure 5g of salt. Add 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon coriander, ½ teaspoon hot chilli powder and ½ teaspoon crushed chilli flakes into each mixing bowl. Stir together.

Step 2
Melt the coconut oil in a small pan, then pour half into each bowl. Pout 150ml of hand-hot water into one bowl and stir to a soft dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic (it should bounce back when prodded).

Step 3
Mix a generous amount of red food colouring into 150ml of hand-hot water and add this to the second bowl and knead as before. Oil the bowls and return the dough to them. Cover each bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place or proving drawer to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until doubled in size and the dough is risen enough to hold the hollows when you push two fingers into it.

Step 4
While the dough is rising make the coconut chutney. Pour the coconut milk into a medium pan and bring it to the simmer over a medium heat. Stir in the desiccated coconut, garlic and chillies until the mixture is turning pink. Remove from the heat and add the coriander and coconut flavouring. Leave the mixture for 30 minutes, until all the coconut milk has been absorbed, then place in a food processor and pulse until it forms a paste.

Step 5
Make the mango chutney. Place the vinegar, lemon juice and sugar in a medium pan over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Then, increase the heat and boil for 5–10 minutes, until reduced by half.

Step 6
Meanwhile, place the cumin, coriander and cardamom seeds in a small pan and cook over a medium heat for 2–3 minutes, until they are toasted and fragrant. Tip them into a mortar together with the nigella seeds, turmeric, cloves and red chilli and use the pestle to crush everything together.

Step 7
Add the spices, mango, lemon zest and hot chilli powder to the reduced vinegar mixture. Simmer, uncovered, on a medium heat for about 30 minutes, until thick and syrupy, stirring with a wooden spoon every so often. Take the chutney off the heat, leave it to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a sterilized jar to set.

Step 8
When the doughs have doubled in size, turn them out onto a work surface. Knock each back and divide each in half. Allow the portions to rest for 5 minutes to relax the dough.

Step 9
On the work surface, roll out one ball of red dough to a circle the size of the dinner plate – the gluten may make it resist, but persevere! Place the dough on the lined baking tray. Push the dinner plate onto the dough to leave an imprint, and then mark a circle in the centre with the rim of a jam jar. Spread 3 tablespoons of coconut chutney evenly around the dough, avoiding the centre circle. Be careful not to over-fill.

Step 10
Roll out a ball of plain dough to a circle the size of a dinner place and place this on top of the filled red circle. Press the plain circle down to seal the filling as much as possible and repeat the process of marking a central circle and spreading the chutney.

Step 11
Repeat the rolling and marking with the second ball of red dough. Place this on top of the plain dough and cover with chutney. Finally, roll out the final piece of plain dough and place on top. Press down the stack to seal the discs together, then press the dinner plate onto the dough and trim the excess around the edges. Remove the dinner plate and mark the imprint of the centre using the jam jar – leaving the jam jar in the centre this time.

Step 12
Using a sharp knife, cut outwards from the jam jar to the edge of the circle to make quarters. Divide each quarter into half to make eighths, then divide each eighth in half to create sixteenths. Keep your cuts nice and clean.

Step 13
Hold two strands of layered dough, one in each hand, and twist twice away from each other, then pinch the ends together to create a seal between them. Repeat for all the strands until you have 8 twisted, joined segments that form a star shape in the middle. Place the loaf inside a large proving bag or cover with oiled cling film and leave to prove somewhere warm or in a proving drawer for 30 minutes.

Step 14
Heat the oven to 220°C/ 200°C fan/425°F/Gas 7. Brush the beaten egg mixture over the dough then sprinkle with nigella seeds. Bake for 20–25minutes, until well risen, golden and the base sounds hollow when tapped. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, and garnish with chopped coriander. Serve with the jar of mango chutney alongside for spooning over.