For those of you who remember the old Lay’s potato chip commercial, with the line “bet you can’t eat just one”, this is not going to be a blog about potato chips. Much as I love them, I avoid them for just that reason (I really can’t eat just one. Well, not one chip. I can stop at one bag.). No, this is about me and jalapeno peppers. The Norwegian perspective, I guess you could say. I decided yesterday that I wanted to try making an Indian dish – Dal (lentil puree). It doesn’t sound exciting, but we had some while up in British Columbia a few weeks ago at a Nepalese restaurant, and I kept thinking about how much I liked it. I also liked the naan, the soft Indian flatbread that we devoured. While we both enjoyed the lamb curry and butter chicken that also came with our dinners, for some reason it was the dal and naan that I wanted to make at home.
So, I got out my Joy of Cooking, which is my Bible in the kitchen. I am always amazed at what recipes I can find in this book. I know some people who just don’t connect with this cookbook, but I am always impressed that when find something new to me, I generally can find a recipe for it here. And they are recipes that work for me. So I looked up Dal, and sure enough, there was a recipe. It seemed basic enough. I had everything except for the fresh ginger, turmeric and jalapeno peppers. We were headed off to the grocery store for our weekly shopping trip, so I added those items to the list. I was glad to find turmeric in the bulk spice section so I could buy several tablespoons for a cheap price (less than 50 cents). I also picked up a jalapeno pepper, knowing that neither Dave nor I like food very hot. At the check out counter, the fellow running the register picked up the small bag and with a smile on his face said “just one?!?!”. Yes, he really did have the question marks and exclamation points with his query. I said “yes, just one. I don’t like much heat”. He laughed and told me that he would usually add 4 or so jalapenos to his dishes as he liked the heat. I noticed that my single pepper rang up for all of eight cents. So, I made the recipe for dal, but even so only used a small part of the jalapeno (I told you I’m Norwegian!). Both Dave and I liked the dish, but I do warn others that it might not be to everyone’s taste. A very basic, vegetarian (really vegan) dish. I also prepared the bread, also using a recipe from the Joy of Cooking. I found another website that had tried this recipe and said, tongue in cheek, “What should you expect when you turn to that classic of Indian cooking, The Joy of Cooking?” Probably very true that this isn’t the ultimate best source, but it works for me. We gobbled down the naan and dal (and paid for it in the middle of the night).
Indian Lentil Puree (Dal)
Pick over, rinse, and place in large saucepan:
1 cup yellow split peas or red lentils
2 cups water
1 small onion, slices
3/4 tsp minced garlic
3/4 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
Simmer, covered, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Puree and return to saucepan. Stir in:
1 cup water
3/4 tsp salt
Simmer, partially covered, until the dal is thickened to the consistency of split pea soup, about 20 minutes. Stir in:
2 fresh serrano or jalapeno peppers, seeded and cut into thirds
1 plum tomato, diced
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup yogurt or buttermilk
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon water, if needed
Mix the dry ingredients then make a well and add the wet ingredients. Mix it all together so that it forms a ball and then knead it for approximately 10 minutes. Place the dough back into a greased bowl, cover with plastic, and let rise for approximately 90 minutes.
An hour into the first rise, begin preheating the oven to 475. If you have a baking stone, use it. Otherwise, place a cookie sheet or two in the oven upside down before turning the oven on.
Split the dough into 4 even pieces. Shape each into a ball, cover with a towel, and let rest for 10 minutes.
Roll the dough out into 8 to 10 inch long ovals. The dough should be no more than 1/4 inch thick.
If you’d like you can brush the top of the dough with a little melted butter. Chopped green onions, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or garlic can also be sprinkled on top before placing it into the oven.
Place the naan directly onto the hot surface and bake for 6 or 7 minutes until they begin to turn golden. Remove from the oven and eat!