Two Lentil Makhani Dal with Freshly Baked Peshawari Naan Breads
I absolutely loved the movie Slumdog Millionaire.I not only appreciated the mechanics on how the movie was made but also how it highlighted the way we allow children and other human beings to live. Chanel 4 recently broadcast an Indian Seasons series of documentaries and films of the slums in Mumbai. It showed the despair and absolute poverty of how the people live but surprisingly it also portrayed the joy, happiness, high rate of employment and a people who wanted to work and make a living. Some of these documentaries make me feel guilty as a human being by creating a sense of failure in helping those individuals who wanted to succeed.
This recipe is my contribution in raising awareness of the fantastic culture and culinary contributions that India has brought to the world. Makhani Dal means butter lentil dal, cooked slowly laced with full bodied spices,not necessarily highlighting the heat of the spices but the fragrance and aroma that they bring to a dish.
To finish my two lentil Makhani Dal dish off, I made freshly baked Peswahir naan breads, this is my own fusion of Indian cuisine.
I like lentils and I am using them more and more in my cooking. They are packed with protein and I do not necessarily have to use meat to make a nutritious and filling meal. There are so many different variety of lentils available on the market, 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 variation 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.
This dish has become a favourite on our weekend dinner table, as it takes time to prepare and cook but for me it’s a labour of love. It’s satisfying due to the buttery richness and more so if Mr.P makes pleasing noises when he enjoys this dish. He normally goes back for seconds which is his seal of approval.
The Peswari naans are delicious, salty sweet, packed with golden sultanas, coconut and almonds. I have produced two methods, one for making this delicious naan breads in the Themromix if you are lucky enough to have one and an alternative for the conventional way. Either way is great and there is no difference in the end results. I brushed 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 baking these naans.
I used ghee instead of butter as I wanted to try and remain fairly traditional in the making and more importantly the flavour that it would provide. If you cannot find ghee in your local stores then unsalted butter will be a perfect substitute. Ghee is clarified butter made from unsalted butter by slowly boiling it over very low heat until all the water has evaporated and then the liquid – clarified butter is carefully separated from the proteins that have settled at the bottom of the pan. The result is a clarified butter with a higher burning point and also it could be stored for much longer before it deteriorates. It all makes sense why ghee is popular in Indian and Sout East Asian cuisine as most of those individuals do not have refrigerators to keep their foods chilled hence the convenience of ghee. The taste does differ as it depends on the quality and type of butter used to make the ghee, my theory is that the more expensive the ghee, the better the quality.
Peshawari Naan Breads
- 225 g strong white bread flour
- 10g fresh yeast or 7g dried yeast, do not use fast action yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 25g ground almonds
- 15g dessicated coconut
- 25g golden sultanas, roughly chopped
- 70ml milk
- 75g natural full fat yoghurt
- 1 medium free range egg yolk
- 50g ghee or unsalted butter, melted + 10g for glazing
- 1tbs honey
Weigh the flour, yeast, salt, sugar, ground almonds, coconut and chopped sultanas into the mixing bowl of a mixer. If you use fresh yeast rub the yeast into the flour until it represents fine breadcrumbs..
In a separate bowl whisk the milk, yoghurt, egg and melted butter together.
Add the wet mixture to the dry mix whilst mixing on low speed, knead the dough for 8 minutes on low speed.
Lightly grease a large mixing bowl. Turn the naan bread dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and form the dough into a smooth ball.
Place the dough into the lightly greased mixing bowl, cover with a clean dry tea towel and leave the dough to prove until double in size. In the winter this stage can take quite a long time, if you do not leave your dough to prove properly your bread will taste yeasty and could have a heavy dense texture.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide the dough into two even sized logs, cut each into 50g balls. Use a rolling pin to roll each ball out into a oblong shape about 1/2 cm thick. Use your finger tips to press dimples into each part.
Carefully transfer the breads to a lightly oiled baking tray. Lightly cover with a clean dry tea towel and leave the naan breads to prove for the second time.
Preheat the grill to a medium heat. Melt the 10g of unsalted butter and 1tbs honey.
Once the naan breads are puffy, grill them for 2 - 3 minutes on each side.Brush one side with the honey butter, return and grill this side for a further minute, turn the naan over and repeat the process on the reverse side. Grill them until golden brown on each side.
Serve the warm naan breads slightly warm.
Using the built in weighing scales weigh the sultanas into the TM 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, coconut, almonds, sugar and salt to the sultanas in the TM bowl and mix 20 seconds/50˚C/Speed 3 to mix and warm the flour.
Melt the butter in the microwave, add the melted butter, yoghurt, milk and egg 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 double in size.
Bake the naan breads as per recipe above.
Makes 10 naan breads
Two Lentil Makhani Dal
- 75g black lentils, dry weight soaked over night in 4 times the volume of cold water
- 75g green lentils, dry weight soaked over night in 4 times the volume of cold water
- 2 large mild red chilies, seeds removed
- 10g fresh turmeric, peeled (if you cannot find fresh turmeric use 1 tsp dried turmeric powder)
- 20g fresh ginger, peeled
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1tsp cumin seeds
- 1tsp coriander seeds
- 2tsp mild curry powder
- 80g ghee or unsalted butter
- 3 white onions, diced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 8 green cardamom pods
- 2tsp caster sugar
- 2tbs malt vinegar
- 600g diced tomatoes (tinned tomatoes will be fine to use)
- 600ml vegetable stock
- Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Juice and zest of one lemon
- 4 tbs coriander, chopped
Soak the black and green lentils overnight in 4 times the volume of cold water. You can mix them together,but it's very important to have enough water and to allow sufficient time for the lentils to rehydrate, I normally work on a minimum of 6 hours.
Make the curry paste: Use either a pestle and mortar or a powerful blender to mince the chillies, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander seeds and curry powder until a fairly smooth paste.
Heat a large saucepan with 50g of the butter or ghee and saute the diced onions, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick until the onions start to turn golden brown, add the curry paste and saute the paste for about 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Do not let the curry paste burn, turn the heat down slightly if it turns quickly, it's important to saute the curry paste for a few minutes to develop the flavour.
Drain the soaked lentils and add them to the saucepan, stir and add salt and pepper. Saute for 1 minute, add the sugar and vinegar and cook for a further 1 minute, stirring continuously.
Add the tomatoes and vegetable stock, bring the dal to a gentle simmer over low heat, cover the saucepan with a lid and gently simmer for 30 minutes.Stir occasionally to prevent the dal from catching.
Remove the lid and continue cooking the dal for a further 10 minutes over low heat. I like my dal quite dry and not soupy like some recipes recommend, if you prefer it wet then stop the cooking once the lentils are cooked.
Once cooked, melt the remaining butter or ghee and stir it into the makhani dal, add the lemon zest, juice and chopped coriander, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Serve the Two lentil Makhani Dal with natural yoghurt, lemon zest and chopped coriander and the freshly baked Peshawari Naan breads
Serves 6 - 8