I had heard the word sheermal but was under the impression that it was something that existed only in Kashmir. Aunty Google helped me know that it exists even now as a street food in India especially in Muslim neighbourhoods and is an integral though rare part of Lucknowi especially Awadhi,Kashmiri or Hyderabadi cuisines. Its origins can be traced to the Mughals or Persia as the name is based on the Persian word for milk 'Sheer'.
Shirmal/Sheermal is a naanlike milk bread made with refined flour, clarified butter/ghee , along with saffron and milk. Slightly sweet in taste, it can be served with spicy kormas/gravies or even sweeter spreads.This month for We Knead to Bake Aparna gave us Sheermal and it was a joy to bake it.
Instant Yeast: 1 tsp
Sugar: 2 tsp
Luke Warm Water: 4 tbsp
All Purpose Flur: 2.25 cups
Salt :3/4 tsp
Egg: 1 lightly beaten OR Ener G Egg: 1.5 tsp packed powder whipped/mixed with 4 tbsp of water
Ghee/ Clarified Butter: 4 tbsp
Milk 4-8 tbsp (I needed only 2-3 tbsp)
Kewra Essence /Rose essence: 1 tsp
Few Saffron Strands soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk
Ghee/ Melted Butter : for brushing
Mix yeast & sugar with warm water and keep aside for few minutes until frothy.
In a big bowl or processor, mix together flour & salt. Add in the yeast mixture and egg and whisk/beat well. Add in the ghee in two additions and continue whisking/beating until it resembles finee crumbs.
Add in milk tablespoons at time -it took just 2 tablespoons for me- and continue kneading until you start getting a dough. Add in the kewra/rose essence -I added rose- and more milk if needed and knead until you a soft and very lightly sticky dough.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, turning once to coat, covering loosely with a plastic wrap and let it sit until doubled for an hour or two.
Meanwhile soak the saffron strands in little warm milk and keep aside. You can see it turning a happy yellow.
Once doubled, take the dough and knead again applying ghee all over. Let it rest again for another 15-20 minutes.
Dived the dough into 4 equal pieces. Take a piece, roll it out to a circle of 4" diameter or 1/8" thickness. Transfer it to a lined/greased baking sheet. Using a fork, prick holes all over the surface of the bread. Repeat the process with the other three pieces.
Brush the saffron milk all over the rounds so that it absorbs as much flavour as possible.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F for about 10-15 minutes till they turn a lovely golden brown. Take out and lightly brush them with melted ghee/butter. Serve warm. If serving after sometime transfer to a wirerack.
These are perfect when they are warm. They can be enjoyed as such or with any korma/choice of sides.They are only slightly sweet and a yellowish in colour thanks to the saffron. These are usually served in Muslim households with nihari or a slow cooked beef or lamb stew.