red lentil dal + naan
August 15, 2012 § 5 Comments
It’s almost here: school is starting in a week and a half. Not that I’m counting down or anything. If anyone’s counting, it would be Jade. I’m pretty sure she’s sick of me. I tried to keep us entertained during these eleven weeks, but I’m running dry at this point. Our outing tomorrow will be the dentist, if that gives you any indication of my desperation (and it’s not just an Invisalign checkup for me; we’re both also getting cleanings, so it will be ‘extra exciting’). Luckily, our dentist is not to far from the beach so we’ll probably hang out there afterward and get some lunch, but still. The dentist? Come on.
This summer I have felt a shift taking place between us; nothing out of the normal for Jade’s age, just her pulling away from me a little. That’s what kids eventually do, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, she’s still affectionate and sweet, just not quite as ‘into’ me as she used to be. I’m not as exciting or funny as I used to be, apparently (though, in my defense, after nearly 12 weeks of near constant togetherness, is anyone as exciting or funny as they once were?).
And her sense of humor has changed, too. Example: She said something jokingly mean to me recently, and I jokingly pretended to be hurt. I made a exaggeratedly sad face through my smile and said something like, “You didn’t mean to say that about your mommy.” Her countenance changed a bit and she looked at me in slight disgust. “Mommy? No, you’re not mommy. You’re mom. When I’m being extra sweet to you, you’re mama. But mostly, you’re just mom.” Then she looked me up and down with the faintest hint of a smile, and purposely drove the final nail in the coffin: “And right now, you’re mother.”
I laughed about that for a week. I mean, it was classic: mother. It’s the implication, the undertone of it that all of us moms never want to hear. So, the point of all of this is that it’s time to go back to school. It’s time for all of us to be on a schedule again. The lazy days of summer only suit Jade’s sensibility to a point, and then the poor thing just doesn’t know what to do with her Type-A self. We both kind of just fall apart from lack of structure. The structure that the school year provides, however, can be a little harried and that is where this red lentil dal comes into play. We auditioned it the other night and it passed the school night test because it’s quick and easy to throw together in a short amount of time, as well as being healthy and filling. I can’t ask for much more in a meal when I need to get dinner on the table in an hour or less in the midst of violin lessons and Girl Scouts and homework and projects and the like, so it will definitely be part of our dinner rotation come sixth(!) grade. Until then, let’s hope this mother can keep it together.
Red Lentil Dal
As you can see in the photos above, I served the dal one night over brown basmati rice, and the leftovers the next night with the naan. The naan won, hands down, in terms of which we preferred, but the rice is a nice alternative if you don’t have time to devote to making naan.
Like the naan recipe below, with this one I kept the ingredients the same, but switched up the directions in a way that I thought made more sense. They’re more streamlined, I guess you could say. We really liked this meal. Please make sure to use fresh tomatoes; as much as I love canned ones for other dishes, here they lend an unwelcome taste. Also, this is especially good with a scoop of plain yogurt on top.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 chopped onion, divided
3 minced garlic cloves, divided
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
2½ cups water
1 cup dried red lentils
¾ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Small handful cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Transfer half of the lentil mixture to a food processor or blender; purée until smooth. Return purée to rest of the dal. Mix in the reserved sautéed onion mixture, along with cilantro. Simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over rice or with naan, recipe below.
First things first: naan takes awhile. There is the usual rising time for the yeast, but standing at the stove cooking each one is time consuming. Eight pieces took about 45 minutes to fry on the grill. Anyway, this recipe is adapted from AllRecipes.com, and while I kept the ingredients mostly the same (I halved the sugar), I changed the directions quite a bit. When working with yeast, I always prefer to let it foam up for a good 15 minutes, feasting on sugar, before I add it to the flour so that I can make sure the yeast is working and ready to go. I also tweaked a few steps to in order to dirty fewer dishes. Brushing one side of the bread with butter (as opposed to both sides) was my idea as I felt the original way was just too buttery (is there really such a thing? The answer is yes), as well as sprinkling said buttery side with salt.
I feel these came out perfect. We gobbled them up in no time, though I should mention that I only cooked half of the dough. The other eight dough balls were placed on a baking sheet and frozen, then placed in a large zip top bag and stored in the freezer for another day (I did this not only because I like having pre-made things to eat later, but also because after tasting one I knew if I cooked the whole batch, we would most definitely eat the whole batch).
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons sugar
4 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg beaten
2 teaspoons garlic, minced or grated on a micro plane
½ stick unsalted butter, melted
Kosher salt, for sprinkling
In a small bowl or pyrex measuring cups, mix yeast, water and sugar together and let stand at least 15 minutes, until mixture is foamy on the surface.
In a medium bowl, mix together flour and salt. Pour yeast mixture on top of the flour. In the same small bowl or pyrex cup, mix together the milk and egg. Pour that into the flour/yeast mixture. Using a spatula, stir everything together. It will not really come together and be quite floury. Dump the floury mixture onto a clean surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until mixture comes together cohesively and there are no streaks of flour. Roll into a ball. Coat the mixing bowl lightly with flour, add the dough, cover and let rise in a warm spot one hour until doubled in size.
When dough is ready, press on it to deflate. Sprinkle on the garlic, and knead it in until evenly distributed (it’s hard to see, so just do your best). Cut the dough into sixteen even pieces, and roll each into a ball. Set on a clean surface, cover and rise 30 minutes, until puffy.
Heat a cast iron skillet, lightly coated in oil, over medium heat. Have melted butter (and a brush), as well as kosher salt, on the counter next to the stove, along with a plate to place the naan as they’re cooked. Use your fingers to roll one of the dough balls into a thin circle. Keep all the rest of the dough covered at all times. Place the circle of dough onto the heated pan and cook 2-3 minutes. Brush the uncooked side with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Flip dough and cook the other side 2-4 minutes until done. Repeat with the rest of the dough until finished.
Naan is best served straight out of the pan, but if you can’t get to it right away, reheat before serving.