my first indian foray—dal and naan

Inspired by a delicious dinner at our friend Ted’s, I decided to try my hand at Indian. For a first attempt it was successful, but could still use some tweaking. The dal was good, but a little over-spiced for my tastes. I’ve adjusted the recipe below to how I plan to make them next time.

And, because I like to take an easy meal that would normally be ready at 7 pm and turn it into an epic culinary adventure that we sit down to at 10:30, I decided to make naan from scratch. It was totally worth it though. This naan is really good, especially considering our clear lack of tandor oven.

Dal, adapted from Smitten Kitchen and the San Francisco Chronicle

2 cups yellow split peas, soaked in cold water for 1 hour or more
1 large tomato, cut into 8 wedges
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, finely ground
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt

Drain the peas and place in a dutch oven. Add 6 cups of water and the tomato. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, until the peas are tender. Pick out the tomato skins and whisk the dal break up some of the peas. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm.

Heat the oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the cumin seeds. Saute the seeds until golden, 1 – 2 minutes. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes. Add the garlic, turmeric and cayenne. Pour this mixture into the pea soup. Stir to combine and and season with salt. Add the cilantro leaves and butter just before serving.

Naan, adapted from All Recipes
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
3 T milk
1 egg, beaten
2 t salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup butter, melted

In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour.

Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a baking sheet. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Heat a grill—we used a cast iron pan— over medium high heat. Lightly oil the grill or pan. Roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle.  Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with melted butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue with the rest of the balls of dough.

While I’m sure the following statement won’t surprise you in the least, it is all about the butter with this naan. Don’t skip that step. It makes the bread heavenly.