Tonight I had one of my first attempts at making ‘real’ Indian food (previous attempts have basically consisted of throwing a TON of all the Indian style spices I had into a pan of lentils, which turns out surprisingly well, in case you were wondering). I based this lentil dish off of this recipe, and my naan off this recipe for whole wheat naan.
Despite the fact that this was a meatless meal (using fairly inexpensive ingredients) my husband and I both really enjoyed it (!) AND my husband approved the naan despite the fact that it’s whole wheat. Oh, yeah, and it’s all healthy too. Win, win, win.
I should probably warn you that I didn’t measure most of my spices, so the the amounts listed below are estimates…
1 cup split red lentils
water for soaking (optional)
2-3 cups chicken stock
1 diced onion OR 2 TBSP dried minced onion
1 TBSP minced garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
1 6oz can tomato paste
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste
1/4 cup butter
2 tsp black cumin seeds (nigella sativa)
1 tsp mustard powder
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp paprika
Soak lentils overnight, if desired. (This improves the digestibility a bit, but isn’t strictly necessary.) Drain soaked lentils.
In a medium sized pot, mix lentils, chicken stock, onion, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, crushed red pepper and black pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes, or until lentils are completely soft. Add salt to taste.
(I’ll admit I don’t entirely understand how this next bit is supposed to work, but this is what I did in my attempt to mostly follow the recipe I was working from.) Melt butter in a small pot. Meanwhile, measure black cumin seeds into one small bowl, and remaining spices into a second small bowl. Once the butter is beginning to sizzle, dump in the cumin seeds all at once and quickly put the lid on to avoid being spattered. (Mine didn’t really spatter. Perhaps I didn’t heat the butter as hot as I was supposed to.) Remove the lid, add the remaining spices, and let them sizzle and bubble for about 30 seconds without letting them burn.
Mix the butter/spice mixture into the lentils and serve, preferably in a large bowl, scooping it into your mouth with warm whole wheat naan bread.
Whole Wheat Naan
3 cups whole wheat flour (I used red hard wheat aka whole wheat bread flour)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp coconut oil
1 cup sour milk or thin yogurt
1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp yeast
dash of ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp salt
coconut oil or ghee (for frying)
melted ghee or butter (for brushing)
Mix first four ingredients and allow to soak overnight. (If using a different type of whole wheat, such as white wheat, you’ll need less liquid, maybe about 3/4 cup.)
Mix yeast and ginger with warm water and let sit until foamy.
Sprinkle baking soda, cream of tartar and salt across top of soaked wheat mixture, and mix it in a bit. (Mine was so crumbly that I just crumbled it around a little with my fingers so everything was distributed. If your mixture is more dough like, giving it a few fold-and-press kneads would probably work better.)
Pour in foamy yeast mixture and mix or knead until all ingredients are incorporated together. Knead for a few minutes, until the dough is beginning to feel firm and dough like. (If I’d been doing this in my mixer I probably would have kneaded it a lot longer, until it was closer to passing a windowpane test, but I get tired of hand kneading whole wheat dough.)
Let rise for about 2 hours.
Divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a circle about as big as your skillet.
Heat a small amount of ghee or coconut oil in a skillet, just about enough to cover the bottom of the skillet well, but not quite enough to pool. The original recipe says medium-high heat, though I found that medium on my stove got the skillet plenty hot enough–hot enough that the skillet started smoking if it was empty for more than a few seconds, but not hot enough burn the naan.
Put one circle of dough in the skillet, cover with the lid and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Flip over the bread, replace the lid, and cook for another minute.
Brush with melted ghee or butter while still warm, and serve promptly.