Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dal Nirvana and Homemade Naan

Lentils have become a frequent guest at our dinner table lately. We got a big bag of them from Costco, so I feel like I HAVE to use them...which has turned out to be a good thing. Its an ingredient that I didn't know much about, but they pack a huge nutritional punch. One serving can give you half of your DRV of protein and fiber. Win win in our house!

So it was perfect when a few weeks ago a friend mentioned she had an Indian dish called "dal" at a mutual friend's house using lentils. I was intrigued. I've never heard of it, and when I got home I did a little google research on it. Dal (or Dhal) is a broader term to include all legumes in the pulse family (lentil, dried pinto beans, navy beans, dried peas, etc.) that are very common in South Asian cuisine. Dal also refers to the stew made with these pulses.

This particular recipe is from Steamy Kitchen (which, by the way is a wonderful food blog, check it out!) It's basically lentils, stewed with tomato, ginger and garlic with a touch of cream at the end. To me, it sounded so simple I couldn't imagine it would be good. But I was SO WRONG. This stuff was AMAZING. This is hands down the best Indian dish I have made at home. It's creamy and spicy and so good scooped up with fresh homemade naan.

I've made naan before, but this time I decided to use a different recipe. I did a quick search and based on the ingredients I had on hand, this recipe from Taste and Tell fit the bill. Homemade naan is a little time intensive because you do have to let the dough rise twice. I guess if you were pressed for time you could skip the second rise, but I'm a firm believer in the second rise for a really nice texture.

To cook up the naan I just used a cast-iron skillet. I think next time I will use my large griddle so I can cooked a few at a time. Doing them one by one resulted in me standing in the kitchen with oil and flour covered hands for an hour with my little one year old screaming at me the whole time to pick her up. Oh the joys of dinner time crazies. It's only from about 4-5:30 that I wish I had a nanny so I could cook dinner in peace. Oh well. I'll put it on the list for Santa Claus (I wish...).

On to the recipes!


Dal Nirvana
Prep Time: 5 minutes  Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes Servings: 4

Notes: For this recipe I used a lentil trio mix. I think any dry lentil will do in this recipe. Just whatever you can find at your local grocery store. Also, canned coconut milk would be a really nice substitution for the cream in this recipe. I'm going to try it next time! 

1 cup dry lentils
8 oz crushed tomato
1 Tb grated fresh ginger
1 Tb minced garlic
1/8 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper (based on heat preference)
1 cup water
4 Tb butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
minced cilantro for garnish
  • Cook lentils according to package directions, drain off excess water
  • Place lentil back in pot and add tomato, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, water, butter, salt and pepper. 
  • Bring mixture to a gentle boil, then turn down heat and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn on the bottom.
  • Add cream, stirring to combine and serve with cilantro


Prep time: 1 hour 45 minutes  Cook time: 30 minutes Servings: 12-15 medium sized pieces

Note:  It is ok for them to get some burned spots...that's what makes naan so tasty!

1 Tb active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 Tb milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp salt
3 - 4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup melted butter
  • In a large bowl of a stand mixer, bloom yeast in warm water with a sprinkle of sugar
  • Once yeast is bubbling, add remaining sugar, milk, egg and salt
  • Add in flour gradually until the dough starts pulling away from the side of the bowl (for me this took just under 4 cups)
  • Knead dough in mixer for 5 minutes
  • Turn dough out onto floured surface and form into a ball and put into an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour, or until doubled.
  • Once dough is doubled in size, punch it down and turn out onto floured surface.
  • Form dough into balls, and place on greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise 30 minutes. 
  • Preheat griddle or cast-iron skillet to medium high heat
  • Roll balls out into thinly, and put onto lightly greased griddle and cook for 1-2 minutes
  • Before flipping, brush uncooked side with butter, then flip and cook until dark brown.
  • Place cooked naan on a plate, covered with a tea towel to keep warm and prevent drying out

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