I love curry. I loved curry before I went to India, and since returning my curry consumption has probably doubled. While getting an Indian takeaway now and then is nice, I much prefer getting into the kitchen and cooking my own.
I’ve recently transitioned to an almost entirely vegan diet (I say almost due to a few accidental slip ups, because how on earth was I to know that salt and vinegar chips contained milk?!), and have not only felt a hundred times better, but have been really enjoying cooking even more now. Being able to take recipes I already loved and adjust them to suit a vegan diet is something I’ve found challenging, but fun.
One of those things has been my beloved garlic naan. Most contain yoghurt and are cooked with ghee, so definitely a no-go for someone who is excluding dairy. This was particularly heartbreaking for me to accept, so I set out to create my own. It was an absolute struggle, I’ll tell you that much, but after many attempts I think I’ve finally hit the nail on the head. I also have been cooking this dal a lot recently, and am really happy with how it tastes.
I served my dal with both rice and naan and regretted the decision immediately. In the future I’ll probably stick to the ‘one or the other’ rule that I definitely ignored in India (I also came home 5kgs heavier but let’s not make any assumptions there).
If you’re making the naan, get started on that a bit earlier than your dal, as it needs a while to prove.
Red Lentil Dal
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed thoroughly
- ½ brown onion, finely diced
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- Pinch salt
- 1 tbsp ginger, finely grated
- ½ brown onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 2 cloves, ground
- 1-2 tsp chilli flakes
- ½ tbsp oil of choice
- Cook lentils with 3 cups of water in a heavy based saucepan (medium heat) until tender with onion, turmeric and salt. This should take around 30-40 minutes
- Stir every now and then to ensure the dal mix doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan
- When lentils are cooked, take a separate small saucepan and heat up your oil
- Add cumin, mustard seeds, ground gloves and chilli and cook for a minute or so
- Add ginger, garlic, onion and tomatoes and leave to cook until tomatoes have reduced down slightly
- Add tempering mix to your lentils and cook for another 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning here, if needed
- Serve with rice or naan (or both if you desire)
- 250gm plain flour*
- 4gms instant yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 125ml lukewarm water
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp coconut yoghurt*
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 3 tbsp water
- Combine the yeast, water and sugar in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes, or until it begins to bubble/froth
- In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, oil, yoghurt and yeast mixture and stir to combine, ensuring all flour from the bowl is incorporated
- Turn onto a floured surface and knead until soft. The dough is incredibly sticky so ensure your hands and your surface are both dusted with flour, adding more if necessary (however be cautious that adding too much can affect the texture of the bread and reduce its rising capability)
- Leave dough to prove in a warm spot for around an hour, covered with a clean tea towel. I usually leave mine outside if it’s a warm day. You’ll know when it’s ready when it has around doubled in size
- Cut dough into 6 portions and roll to about ½ cm thick. Again, make sure your surface and rolling pin are floured as the dough is incredibly sticky
- Lightly oil a heavy based (cast iron if you have one!) fry pan, and heat to quite high*. Mix garlic with water in a small bowl and keep to the side.
- Cooking one bread at a time, place on the fry pan and cover with a lid. After about two minutes, check the underside of your bread. The top should be bubbling and the bottom should be golden brown. Brush the top of your naan with some of the garlic mixture and turn, cooking for another 2-3 minutes on the underside (keeping the pan covered).
- When both sides are golden, remove from pan and keep covered with foil or keep in the oven while the rest are cooking
* FLOUR: I have tried the recipe using all plain flour, all spelt flour, and half/half of plain and spelt. While all plain gives the most ‘authentic’ texture and taste, subbing half spelt does boost the nutritional benefit of the breads slightly. I wouldn’t recommend using 100% spelt flour.
* YOGHURT: using coconut yoghurt does leave a slight coconut taste, which I don’t mind. You can sub for soy yoghurt, if desired
* HEAT: The pan heat required greatly varies depending on your own hob and the pan you use. Use your intuition and adjust temperature if need be. It needs to be fairly high, however if its burning, obviously turn it down.
I’d love to know if you make this!