Sheermal (Saffron Flatbread)
Sheermal (also spelled shirmal), is a traditional saffron-flavored flatbread from Iran. It was introduced to North India by Mughal Emperors. It is not commonly made in homes but can be found in Mughal restaurants. It can be served with rich mutton stews and curries, or it can be had with tea or coffee like any other bread. It has subtle flavors of milk , saffron, keora, and rose water.
I serve sheermal as an accompaniment to mutton on the occasion of Eid. Sheermal are very flavorful and little sweet. If you don’t like sweetness you can reduce the amount of confectioners’ sugar in the recipe.
- 118 ml (1/2 cup) milk, warmed to 41-46 degrees C (105-115 degrees F)
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) dry yeast
- 15-20 saffron strands
- 15-20 ml (3-4 teaspoons) confectioners' sugar
- 591 ml (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) baking powder
- 1/2 cup powdered dry milk
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) salt
- 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) green cardamom powder
- 1 egg, beaten
- 5-15 ml (2-3 teaspoons) keora water*
- 35-40 ml (7-8 teaspoons) ghee or clarified butter
- Rose water, as needed
- Thinly sliced pistachios and almonds, as needed, optional
*Keora water or pandan water is distilled from the flowers of the screwpine.
- In the warm milk, combine the yeast, saffron, and 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of the confectioners’ sugar. Cover and set aside inb a warm spot for half an hour until the yeast is activated and the surface is bubbly.
2. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add milk powder, remaining confectioners’ sugar, salt, and cardamom powder; mix well. Set aside 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of the beaten egg for brushing on the breads later, and add the remaining to the bowl with the keora water. Knead in the milky yeast mixture, a little at a time, to make a medium soft dough. Then add 15-20 ml (3-4 teaspoons) ghee or clarified butter, and knead for 4- 5 minutes until the dough becomes smooth and soft. Cover and set aside in a warm place for at least an hour. The flour will rise a little but not much, as we have added the ghee.
3. Now again knead the dough softly and divide it in 4-6 parts. Make round balls and roll them softly with the help of little dry flour to make thick plain breads. Prick them with a fork so that they will not puff while baking. Brush them with rose water, egg, or milk, and arrange them on a baking sheet. For Royal breads, after making balls, flatten them a bit with your hands. Scatter thinly sliced pistachios and almonds on them, then roll gently with rolling pin. Brush them with rose water, egg, or milk, and arrange them on a baking sheet.
4. For baking , preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) with the rack in the middle of the oven. Bake the breads until they are light brown, about 10 minutes. Quickly dip the baked breads into plain lukewarm water, removing them immediately, so they become soft. Alternatively, you can brush them with water. Brush generously with clarified butter and let them cool on the wire rack.