The sourdough protagonist: Meet 'The Baker’s Dozen' founder Chef Aditi Handa
Her plan was more solid, to make the age-old tradition into an accessible and affordable commodity for all
It takes seven days to make a sourdough starter, and a lifetime of commitment to nurture it. Four ingredients — flour, water, salt & yeast — and the magic of microorganisms literally out of thin air, sets the premise for bread that is gentle on the gut and an excellent metabolism booster, says Chef Aditi Handa, founder of The Baker’s Dozen who has been spearheading the sourdough bread narrative in India for a decade.
When she started Baker’s Dozen in 2013, her idea was clear: to draw attention back to the age-old goodness of sourdough bread and put it on every dining table as an essential commodity. Armed with a Diploma in International Bread Baking from International Culinary Institute (New York), and a Diploma in Patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu (Paris), she took it upon herself to bring the sourdough and its charm out of the elitist closet.
She knew she was up against the obsession of Indians for white bread, which is made from 20 ingredients, including chemical enhancers and unhealthy manipulators. Her plan was more solid, to make the age-old tradition into an accessible and affordable commodity for all.
For the uninitiated, flatbreads are an extremely versatile product, especially in terms of consumption.
“It can be used with dips, as a base for a sandwich or even as a replacement for roti. During the pandemic, we experienced a sudden rise in the popularity of these products. I think the reason behind this is that it has made home cooking easier because of its nature of easy consumption,” opines Aditi, who fans of bread in the city have her to thank for, given their growing number of stores here.
Sharing how it has been changing our cooking and consumption today, she says, “There are so many variations and flavours one can add to flatbreads, whether these are spice-flavoured pitas or sweet-filled lavash. The use is very diverse and ranges across different occasions of the day.”
She adds that it plays a very important role in Indian kitchens and says, “Roti is a type of flatbread and a big part of India is a roti-consuming nation. International flatbreads provide a very good and easy alternative to roti as they can be paired with various Indian foods. Not to forget many health benefits — to make flatbread with a variety of indigenous ingredients is relatively easy and hence provides options for gluten-free or even the ones who want to experiment with other grains than wheat.”
If you’re wondering if there’s only so much you could do with bread, Aditi thinks otherwise: “Flatbread allows you to be as creative as possible. The easiest way is to change the toppings. Use different types of chilli, fresh herbs, and berries for those with a sweet tooth. In my freezer, I always keep a variety of hummus: the regular ones, turmeric flavoured, spice flavoured, etc. Top the flatbread with hummus and some sprouted dal and maybe some salty cheese — you have yourself a yummy mid-meal or a light dinner. Another easy quick recipe is to roast a pumpkin and cut it into small cubes with some fresh oregano on top and enjoy.” Humbled and determined, there is yet only one aim she says, “A sourdough in every home every day.”