And we didn’t even order in! I was mighty proud of myself for pulling off the daal and naan, although later on not so proud anymore, having eaten the better part of four fresh naan breads warm from the skillet. Not a good idea. My only consolation was that the rest of the meal consisted entirely of vegetables.
This whole Indian theme came about because I’ve been buying far more tomatoes than is absolutely necessary, and as a result have a few going wrinkly on top of my breadbox. Once, when we lived in Vancouver about 5 years ago, I made a potato curry from my friend Tahera Rawji’s cookbook Simply Indian, and because I didn’t have any crushed tomatoes I whizzed a couple of tomatoes in the food processor that were at the time going wrinkly on my minescule Vancouver countertop. It was one of those minor events that lodged itself firmly in my brainpan, and now whenever I see an aging tomato, I want curried potatoes.
Tomato Curried Potatoes
4-5 Yukon gold or baby new potatoes, cut into large chunks (I don’t bother to peel them – a bonus when you use thin-skinned potatoes like YG)
canola oil, for cooking
1 cup crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, or 2 tomatoes pureed in the food processor
2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. curry powder or paste
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
Boil the potatoes until tender. In a large skillet, heat a drizzle of oil and add the potatoes; toss them around a bit. Add the tomatoes, paprika, curry powder, chili powder, sugar and salt and cook for 5-10 minutes, until the potatoes are well coated and the extra moisture has cooked off.
Also, I had the most enormous cauliflower you ever saw left over from Ramsay Rocks, where it was supposed to go onto the veggies and dip tray in the volunteer’s tent. I hardly ever buy cauliflower. I’m not a huge fan. Or I wasn’t; I am now. My favorite way to cook any kind of veg is to roast it, so why not cauliflower? I gave it a try, and even W liked it. To roast cauliflower, separate it into florets and toss with canola or olive oil and salt; spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 450°F for about half an hour, until it’s all golden and charred.
The daal was something I flipped past en route to the curried potato recipe; it had me at the first line: “in a large saucepan with plenty of water, bring to a boil and cook lentils until overdone and mushy.” Hey, I can do that. Beyond that, the recipe pointed me in the right direction and I went on my way. This is definitely a keeper. Funny that I’ve never made this before, but looking at the recipe it seems so completely obvious.
1 1/2 cups dried orange lentils
canola oil, for cooking
1 large onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp. curry paste or powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2-1 cup half & half or evaporated milk or coconut milk (optional)
1/2 tsp. garam masala (optional)
a handful of cilantro, chopped (optional)
Put the lentils in a pot and boil for 15-20 minutes, until very well done and mushy. Drain. Meanwhile, heat a good drizzle of oil and sauté the onions until dark golden. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the curry paste, sugar, chili powder, and salt, then the lentils and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the half & half and cook until it has the consistency you want – they can be runny, or thicken up if you cook it for a few more minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the garam masala, then sprinkle with cilantro, if you like. Serves 4-6.
The tangy, pillowy naan is from Tahera’s book. It seemed at first to be a little over the top to make naan from scratch, but then again it isn’t any different than making pizza dough. Next time, I’ll brush the outside of the rolled dough with melted butter spiked with garlic before cooking it, and I am so using this as a base for Indian-influenced pizzas on the barbecue. Tandoori chicken, perhaps?
1/2 cup warm water
2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 tsp. sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg, beaten
5 Tbsp. powdered milk (optional – I didn’t use any)
5 Tbsp. plain yogurt
melted butter or oil, for frying
In a large bowl, stir together the water, yeast and sugar and let stand for 5 minutes, until foamy. If it doesn’t foam, the yeast is inactive; toss it out!
Stir in the flour, salt, canola oil, egg and powdered milk, and stir until almost combined. Add the yogurt and work into a soft, pliable dough.
Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled in size; about an hour or two.
Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces and on a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece into an oval. Brush both sides with melted butter or oil. (Tahera instructs to brush one side with butter, the other with milk.)
Cook each naan in a very hot skillet until blistered and cooked, flipping as necessary.
Makes 6-8 naan.