Rosemary and Potato Dinner Rolls & So Many Thoughts

Warning : Long post ahead

I am going to jump from one subject to another with such speed that you might want to hold on to your seats! This post may not make a whole lot of sense, but at the moment there is this violent vortex of thoughts churning in my head and I have to vent it out. It contains extracts of my thoughts on an impending wedding, parenting, the changing seasons and Bahrain.

And here it comes—

1. In  4 days time I will be in India attending my brother’s wedding.  The entire family has been excitedly looking forward to this event and we all feel such joy to welcome a new member  ( my sister-in-law) into our family. It is a Gujarati wedding and hence the rituals will be in Bhavnagar where my  would be sister-in-law and her family live. I cannot wait to get there and enjoy all the wonderful Gujarati food, music and their traditional dance ( Raas and garba). I am hoping to dig into the authentic Gujarati cuisine that includes Undhiyu, Kadhi, Shrikhand etc. Dressing up, putting on make up, jewellery and meeting family and friends is going to be the norm of the next 10 days. The Reception programme is to be held at my dad’s native in Kerala and that would mean onslaught of good food, again.  I can barely wait to be on that flight to India.

2. I have been homeschooling Mimi for the last 3 weeks now. It all started when I joined a Homeschooling group that had mums who home schooled their children seriously and didn’t have any intention of sending them to school. Ever. So I joined them and realized their enthusiasm about this informal system of education and what it was doing to their children. I was profoundly impressed. So that the child doesn’t miss interacting with children his /her age, they meet once a week at a mum’s place ( A group is allowed 5 mums and max of 7-8 children). The host -mum decides the topic for that day and prepares fun activities, games, study material and craft around it for 2 whole hours which also includes 10 minutes of snack time. It is a hectic, fun-filled 2 hours with plenty to do and learn. I have gone for 4 such sessions at different mums’ homes and the 5th one was hosted at my place. It was such an interesting one week, planning for lessons and activities and craft around Sea Animals. Other varied topics that other mums hosted were ‘Patterns and finding them in the world around you”, ” Farm animals”, ” Your favourite books”, ” Cars and car safety”.  So in order to orient Mimi to this new system of fun and study, I decided to do it on a daily basis barring the weekends when my hubby distracts both of us with lot of cuddles. I am enjoying this experience so much that I do not seem to have any time to do anything else. Only weekends are reserved for some baking and me- time. I hope to keep up with this since it has helped me know Mimi even better and this is such a great opportunity for us to bond. It makes such incredible use of my time and secretly I enjoy doing all her craft.

The Sea in the box - Prototype by yours truly


sea-in-a-box by Mimi


Farm Animals - The sheep building project

3. It is that time of the year when Bahrain doesn’t revel in the magic of Valentine’s day like the rest of the World. It is that time when tension is brewing underground and you can feel it in the air, the conversations between absolute strangers standing at the super market billing counter waiting their turn and the lack of Valentine Day’s celebrations advertisements in the newspapers and magazines. Last year, this time, Bahrain was midst a lot of Political turmoil and for locals and expats alike, it was something they wouldn’t forget in a hurry. The sights of the army pulling in the residential areas with their tanks, the security personnel stopping every single car for thorough scrutiny and the mass exodus from the island are still fresh in everybody’s mind. While I would be away for my brother’s wedding celebrations during this time, I hope and pray that Bahrain stays peaceful.

4. Bahrain has experienced its share of glorious weather this winter season. The most pleasant of all months, we have the pleasant, more pleasant and most pleasant climes, these last 3 months. It has been both joyous and inspiring to write, to cook, to bake, to go out, to visit friends and to generally laze around at home with hot soups and crispy snacks. This is  the time that we visited different places, different events like the (not-so) grand air show, some beaches and new restaurants. When the weather is great, then everybody you meet or see is either smiling or being nice to the other. Recently we have had a cold wave that has had us shivering to our bones but I love it. It gives me the liberty to experiment with different soups when the markets are inundated with the freshest of produce.

That is when I felt I needed to bake some home-made bread to go with the soups. I am addicted to flipping through Peter Reinhart’s, “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”. It makes such a good read that often times I find myself kneading dough in my head, following the master’s instructions carefully. Sometimes I feel, I might as well bake through the book since it has always exceeded expectations. So with that thought in mind, I set out to make some Rosemary and Potato dinner rolls that looked so appetizing in the photographs.  It took me 2 days to get my act together. I needed fresh rosemary and I needed to make biga. I made the biga and kept it in the refrigerator to rest overnight and the same evening I bought fresh rosemary from the supermarket. Rosemary has such a strong scent that rubbing some between your fingers can have you smelling for a long time.

To Make the Biga

The biga, after the overnight rest in the refrigerator

It makes about 500 gm biga , out of which only 200 gm will be used for the dinner rolls.


Unbleached Bread Flour – 2 1/2 cups

Instant yeast – 1/2 tsp

Water ( at room temp) – 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp. I had to use some more to get the kind of dough that felt ‘right’.


1. Stir in flour, instant yeast, water and combine well.  Knead till the dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff.

2. Transfer it to a floured surface and knead well for 4-6 minutes

3. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough, coating it well with oil and keep it covered in a warm place. Let it rise for 2-4 hours or until it doubles in size

4. Remove the dough and degas it and return it to the bowl and refrigerate it covered overnight. It can stay in the refrigerator for 3 days and can freeze upto 3 months.

Recipe for Rosemary and Potato Dinner Rolls

It makes 18 dinner rolls but it gave me 19!!


biga – 200 gms

Unbleached bread flour – 3 cups plus 2 tbsp

salt – 1 1/2 tsp

Black pepper , coarsely ground – 1 tsp

instant yeast – 1 1/4 tsp

mashed potatoes – 1 cup

Olive oil- 1 tbsp

Coarsely chopped rosemary, fresh- 2 tbsp ( A little goes a long way)

water, at room temp- 3/4 cups pluse 2 tbsp. I had to use about 1 cup plus 4 tbsp

roasted garlic – 4 tbsp

semolina flour /cornmeal for dusting

Olive oil for brushing on top


1. Remove the Biga from the refrigerator 1 hour before you plan to bake and cut it into pieces. Use 200 gms of it and let that sit for 1 hour to take off the chill. Keep the rest covered, back into the refrigerator or the freezer.

top left - biga; top right - biga, cut into pieces; bottom left- after mixing all ingredients together; bottom right- after kneading for 10 minutes

2. Stir together the flour, salt, black pepper and yeast in a bowl and add biga pieces, mashed potatoes, oil, rosemary and water. Combine everything together very well. May knead some patience to do it.

3. Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough and continue to knead for 10-20 minutes. Add more flour or water as required to have the dough soft and supple in your hands. It should also pass the window pane test to see the gluten development. If the stretched dough breaks then it needs more kneading.

Top left- window pane test to see gluten development; top right - adding roasted garlic; bottom left - after the first rise; bottom right - dinner rolls shaped.

4. Flatten the dough and spread roasted garlic. Gather the dough into a ball and knead it for about 1-2 minutes . Transfer it into a well oiled bowl and coat it with oil and let it rest for about 2 hours. It should double in size by then

5. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 18 equal pieces ( Strangely I got 19)  and shape them into dinner rolls. Line a pan with baking parchment and dust lightly with semolina or cornmeal. Place the dinner rolls touching each other so that they have the pull-apart effect. Mist it with olive oil and then cover it with a plastic wrap. Let it proof at room temperature for 1-2 hours.

Fresh from the oven

6. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/ 400 F/ 200 C and place the oven rack in the middle. Remove the plastic wrap and brush the rolls with more olive oil and score them if you like. I scored them using a scissor and that is how I got the design on top of my dinner rolls.

7. Bake it for 20 minutes and then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking.  In total, it will take about 35-40 minutes to bake completely. They will be golden brown all over and will sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Cool well before serving with hot soup.

I loved the flavour from the Rosemary and the pepper which I found to be more prominent. They make for a good snack all by themselves and even with some butter.

I did feel they were hard(er) on the outside but full of flavour on the inside. I like my dinner rolls soft, both sides. So somewhere, something was amiss and but couldn’t place a finger on what I didn’t do right. Overall, I am not entirely satisfied with the endeavour but I have fallen hard for the flavour.

If anybody does make this, I would love to know how it turned out.

31 thoughts on “Rosemary and Potato Dinner Rolls & So Many Thoughts”

  1. Love love love bready things! And these look so professionally done, complete with the scissor-made design on top 🙂

    Very cool to read about all the things you’re doing…home-schooling (I admire how much time you’re putting into that – wishing you all the luck and success with keeping the program alive.), making soups, diving into bread-making,…you’re so accomplished. And you probably deserve a big break 😉 Hope you have a blast and some R&R time at your bro’s wedding (the latter probably will never happen, knowing Indian weddings!)…hope to hear about all the Gujju food you ate, and wishing you congratulations in advance!

    [psst…have muffin mondays been phased out in 2012? I think I missed the memo :(.]

  2. I also really admire your dedication to home schooling. I couldn’t do it (not that I needed to even state that – some things are just obvious).

    How exciting you are going to India for your brother’s wedding! And right there is a big plus for home schooling, right?

    Lovely rolls…wish I could have your leftovers. 🙂

    Safe travels!

    Makes me feel not so alone 😉

    Awesome, I’m heading to India too in 4 days for a wedding 😀 It’s wedding season all round…I mean, I just returned 3 weeks back from another Indian wedding, and here I go all over again. Have fun! I’m half-Gujju but I’ve never actually been to Gujarat! Don’t like all Gujarati food, but some are just divine. Take loads of pics 🙂

    Have an awesome vacation.

  4. I love soft rolls too. I made a pizza crust with a biga a few months back and it was the best pizza crust ever, I am going to have to dig that recipe out again. I am kinda surprised that even with the potatoes you still got a hard crust. Hopefully a reader can give you some insight.

  5. These look great! I love how you have styled the photos; the wooden box is charming. And the sea creature diorama which Mimi has made is so nice! I have never really thought about alternative education…but you said that it made you understand Mimi better. Perhaps I should look for something similar when my son is ready. Have a great time in India, may the wedding be beautiful and the undhiyu and shrikhand delightful!!

  6. Wow… wedding in Bhavnagar. It should be loads of fun. It also means lots of shopping. Home schooling is quite radical. I mean, imagine such a concept in India. We are so obsessed with our schools, colleges, universities that breaking that norm will be impossible atleast in India. Kudos for trying something new.

    1. There are so many forums and groups that support homeschooling in India. I was also quite amazed to find out it was so popular in India. As I see it, the way these regular institutions are charging fees with little or no quality education, many of the modern parents are going to opt for alternative education.

      Thanks for your comment Bulbul

  7. Wow india and a wedding and that too of someone so close wow FUN Time .. yayyyyyyy

    home teaching now thats concept but are you serious , no school EVER.. wont the little one miss on other things like sports and labs etc …

    I remember the problems last year , actually we have a consultant who is based in bahrain and works from there … so we knew it when he cud not come online or attend conference calls etc .. ..

    Have fun time in india and COngratulations to your brother and let the party beginnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

    1. Thanks BIkram.
      I am not entirely sure about not sending her to school ever. But I am enjoying it all as long as it lasts.

      I hope and pray Bahrain remains peaceful. It was quite traumatic last year.

  8. The rolls look so delicious,Anita. Have a good time at your bro’s wedding !
    Home schooling and activities stirred my interest.My boys are already schooling but find it difficult keep them entertained at home.Would love to know more about the activities to keep them away from cartoons.

  9. Home’s really admirable! you must be really enjoying the whole process..the box with sea creatures looks lovely..I too actually made something like that for my daughter’s school project 🙂

    And the rolls..yum..they look really wonderful..I am very fond of yeast breads and will surely keep this recipe with me. The presentation is beautiful ! Have loads of fun in the wedding..I love gujju food and ya do take lots of pictures.

  10. hats off to u for such dedication! the craft projects look like a lot of fun but also a lot of effort & time… im in awe as to how u manage with a baby & a home to care for! sheesh makes me feel like such a slacker 😀 if u consider all the pros & cons homeschooling does sound like a better option, atleast ur child gets 100% attention… anyways, the rolls look pretty perfect to me, love those spices in there. i have never baked bread with biga before.. this is interesting. have fun at the wedding! 🙂

  11. I always think that rolls look so cute with their tops snipped like that. These look delicious! Loved seeing all the crafts too. I always love helping with my kids’ school art projects. Sounds like a very good homeschooling group you joined. I live in a rural area and there are some really successful home-school groups here too.

  12. All I can say after reading this is …..Anu U simply rock ….. both as a cook and as a Mom !!
    I just thank God for the day he brought us face to face 🙂

  13. sounds like ur going to have lots of fun in the next days! how often do u actualy get to come back to india? dont u ever miss it?

    Homeschooling is the best. I would do the same thing, I guesse. its great that u and the other home schooling mums get to meet once in a while so the kids can hang out together.

    do they actualy celebrate valentins day in Bahrain? I havent seen any adds promoting valentines gifts in the tv and I havent heard any complaints from the shiv sena either, most probably every1 is too busy with the elections…

    Your rosemary potato rolls look so tempting, I wish I had an oven I d bake some right away too!

  14. You are having a busy time. I hope the wedding was a huge success. When the Sydney Olympics were on in 2000 my husband was the placard bearer for the Bahrain team and lead them on to the field of play for the Opening Ceremony.

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