Portion/Yield:Serves 6–8 as a main course and makes 10–12 naan breads
I like lentils and I am using them more and more in my cooking. They are packed with protein, so they are a great way of showing that you don’t have to use meat to make a nutritious and filling meal. There are so many different varieties of lentils available on the market too – I have used green and black lentils for this dish as I wanted to retain their shape once cooked. I also use green lentils in a variety of rice dishes, whilst red lentils, which normally cook to a soft texture, are perfect for soups and as a thickener for curries and stews.
The Peshwari naan breads are absolutely delicious – salty-sweet and packed with golden sultanas, coconut and almonds. I have included two methods, one for making them in the Thermomix if you are lucky enough to have one and the other using the conventional method. Either way is great and there is no difference in the end results.
I brush the warm naan breads with melted ghee or butter and honey once they are cooked. You might find it strange that I cook these naan breads under the grill, but as they are thin they do not need to go into the oven. The grill is perfect for cooking them.
Ingredients & Method
For the lentil stew
- 75g dried black lentils
- 75g dried green lentils
- 2 large mild fresh red chillies, deseeded
- 10g fresh turmeric, peeled (if you cannot find fresh turmeric, use 1 teaspoon dried turmeric powder)
- 20g fresh root ginger, peeled
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons mild curry powder
- 80g ghee or unsalted butter
- 3 onions, diced
- 8 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 teaspoons caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons malt vinegar
- 600g chopped tomatoes (use either skinned fresh tomatoes or canned chopped tomatoes)
- 600ml vegetable stock
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
For the naan breads
- 75ml milk
- 10g fresh yeast or 7g dried active yeast (do not use fast-action dried yeast)
- 225g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon caster sugar
- 25g ground almonds
- 15g desiccated coconut, plus extra for sprinkling
- 25g golden sultanas (or use regular sultanas, if you prefer), roughly chopped
- 75g natural yogurt
- 1 medium egg yolk
- 60g ghee or unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
- 1 tablespoon clear honey
- natural yogurt, finely grated lemon zest and chopped fresh coriander, to serve
The day before you want to serve this dish, you’ll need to soak the lentils overnight for the stew. Place each type of lentils in a separate bowl, cover each batch with 4 times their volume of cold water and leave to soak overnight.
The next day, make the naan breads first (see Cook’s Note for the Thermomix method). Gently heat the milk in a small saucepan until it reaches 37°C (blood temperature). Remove from the heat, add the fresh or dried yeast and stir or whisk until dissolved, then cover with cling film and leave to stand for about 10 minutes, until a light frothy foam forms on the surface.
Combine the flour, salt, sugar, almonds, coconut and sultanas in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, egg yolk and 50g of the melted ghee until combined. With the mixer turned on a low speed, add the yeast and yogurt mixtures to the dry mixture and mix to make a dough, then knead it for 8 minutes. (Alternatively, you can make and knead the dough by hand, if you prefer.)
Lightly grease a large mixing bowl. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead it into a smooth ball. Place the dough in the mixing bowl, cover with a clean dry tea towel and leave it to prove (rise) until doubled in size, about 40 minutes. In the winter, this stage can take quite a long time, but remember that if you don’t prove your dough properly, your bread will taste yeasty and may have a heavy, dense texture.
Meanwhile, make the lentil stew. First drain both lots of soaked lentils, rinse them a couple of times in cold water, then drain well and set aside. Next make the curry paste. Using either a pestle and mortar or a powerful blender, mince the chillies, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cumin and coriander seeds and curry powder together to make a fairly smooth paste.
Melt 50g of the ghee in a large saucepan and sauté the onions, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick over a medium heat for 8–10 minutes or until the onions start to turn golden brown, stirring regularly. Add the curry paste and sauté for about 2 minutes, stirring. Do not let the curry paste burn – turn the heat down if necessary (it’s important that the curry paste is sautéed for a few minutes to develop the flavour).
Stir in the drained lentils, along with some salt and pepper. Sauté for 1 minute, then add the sugar and vinegar and cook for a further minute, stirring. Add the tomatoes (and any juice) and stock, then bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over a low heat, cover the pan with a lid and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once the naan bread dough is proved and the stew is simmering away, lightly grease 2 large baking sheets and set aside. Turn the proved dough out on to a lightly floured work surface, knock it back, then divide and shape it into 2 even-sized logs. Cut each log into 5 or 6 pieces (each about 50g) and shape each piece into a ball. Using a rolling pin, roll out each ball of dough into an oval shape about 5mm thick. Use your fingertips to press dimples into each oval of dough. Carefully transfer the breads to the prepared baking sheets. Lightly cover with a clean dry tea towel and leave the naan breads to prove again in a warm place for about 15–20 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat the grill to medium. Combine the remaining 10g melted ghee and the honey in a small bowl. Grill the naan breads (you’ll need to do this in a few batches) for 2–3 minutes on each side. Brush one side of each naan bread with the honey butter, then return to the grill and grill this side for a further minute. Turn the naan breads over and repeat the process on the reverse side. Grill them until cooked and golden brown on both sides. Serve the naan breads slightly warm and lightly sprinkle them with extra desiccated coconut just before serving, if you like.
In the meantime, finish the stew. Remove the lid from the pan and continue to simmer the stew for a further 10 minutes over a low heat, stirring occasionally. I like my stew quite dry and not soupy like some recipes recommend, but if you prefer it wetter, then stop the cooking after the 30 minutes simmering, once the lentils are cooked. Remove the cinnamon stick and any cardamom husks, if you like. Melt the remaining ghee in a small pan, then stir it into the stew, along with the lemon zest and juice and chopped coriander. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Serve the lentil stew topped with natural yogurt, lemon zest and chopped coriander, with the freshly baked Peshwari naan breads alongside.
Thermomix method for the naan bread dough
Using the built-in weighing scales, weigh the sultanas into the Thermomix bowl, secure the lid, set the dial on the lock setting and press the pulse button a couple of times to chop the sultanas. Using the built-in weighing scales, add the flour, yeast, almonds, coconut, sugar and salt to the sultanas in the Thermomix bowl and mix for 20 seconds/50°C/Speed 3 to mix and warm the flour.
Melt 50g of the ghee in the microwave, then add the melted ghee, milk, yogurt and egg yolk to the flour mixture. Set the timer for 1 minute 30 seconds, turn the speed dial to the lid locked position, and press the Dough button. The kneaded mixture should end up soft, pliable and a bit tacky. Remove the lid, turn the bowl upside down, undo the base unit and the dough and blade unit will drop out. Pull any loose bits of dough off the blades and gather the dough together into a ball. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover and leave to prove until doubled in size. Roll, shape, prove and bake the naan breads as per the recipe above.