Monday, 29 October 2012

Indian Cooking Lesson

I can't believe the Women's Institute meetings only roll around once a month.  Shows how time is rushing past these last few months of 2012.  I'd have sworn we were just there a fortnight ago. 

Our scheduled speaker, from a local restaurant, hadn't been able to make it but he found a brilliant substitute.  Jackie is the head chef of the local posh school, King's.  It's about to change into a completely different animal, amidst loads of uproar and confusion, but in this post we don't care about that.  

She said naan bread is made for special occasions; chapatis are for every day.
She also pointed out that the traditional tear-shape is similar to the shape
of India itself, which I thought was fascinating.

Jackie was brilliant, she made everything look incredibly easy. She had made the naan dough ahead of time.  She started the soup, shaped the bread pieces and put them in the oven, worked a bit more on the soup, pulled out the naan bread and tore it into pieces, finished the soup and poured it into cups for us to taste.  I think they must teach juggling in chef school. 

Brits seem to prefer their soup pureed.  At first I thought it resembled baby
food, but I've got used to it.

Recipe for Spicy Lentil and Carrot Soup

2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp curry paste or mild curry powder
2 TBSP olive oil
600g carrots, washed and coarsely chopped (no need to peel)
140g split red lentils
1 litre hot vegetable stock (from a cube is fine)
125ml milk
plain yogurt and naan bread, to serve

Heat large saucepan and dry-fry the cumin seeds for 1 minute, or until they start to jump around the pan and release their aromas.  Scoop out about half of the seeds with a spoon and set aside.
Add the oil and carrot and cook gently until the carrots begin to soften (with a lid is good).
Add lentils, stock and milk to the pan and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 15 mins until the lentils have swollen and softened.
Whizz the soup with a stick blender or in a food processor until smooth (or leave it chunky if you prefer).  Season to taste and finish with a dollop of yogurt and a springling of the reserved toasted spices.  Serve with warmed naan breads.

Make it Moroccan:  substitute the curry and cumin seeds for a few teaspoons of harissa paste.  You could add cooked shredded chicken at the end of the cooking, too.
Make it dairy-free:  For a richer but dairy-free alternative, use a can of reduced-fat coconut milk instead of the milk. 

238 calories, protein 11g, carbohydrate 34g, fat 7g, saturated fat 1 g, fibre 5g, salt 0.25g.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, October 2005.

Naan Bread

60 ml milk
200g strong flour
1 x 5 ml sppon baking powder
1/2 sachet instant yeast (about 3.5 g)
1 x 15 ml sppon plain yoghurt
1 x 15 ml spoon oil

Baking tray, measuring jug, saucepan, mixing bowl, sieve, wooden spoon.

Preheat the oven to 250C or gas mark 8.  Put the baking tray in the oven
Warm the milk (either in a saucepan or microwave)
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl.  Stir in the yeast
Add the yoghurt, oil and warm milk
Mix into a soft dough
Knead for 10 minutes
Leave the dough to prove (rise) for around 30-60 minutes
Kead the dough and divide into 4
Roll out each piece of dough into a 'tear' shape (oval)
Cook the naans ion the heated tray for 3-4 minutes until puffed up and brown

To make them extra special, brush thenaans with melted butter and sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds before baking.  Flaked almonds, dried fruit, coconut and spices could be added to the naan mix before baking.  Make a meal out of your naan.  Once baked, stuff with your favourite curry.


Beryl said...

Those recipes sound good. But I wonder what "strong flour" is? Bet it refers to the gluten content. And pureed soup - what can you expect from a country that likes their peas mushy?

Anonymous said...

This sounds delicious...I am always looking for vegetarian soups. I think I will try this one with almond milk.

Shelley said...

Beryl - You are correct, strong flour is about extra gluten. And, oh I had to laugh! I can't bear mushy peas, but boy do the Brits love them!

Bliss (or should I call you Chic now?) - Vegetarianism is pretty common over here, so loads of recipes are around. Almond milk sounds just right for Indian food!

Anonymous said...

Yum! I'm forever trying to make my lentils turn out like the soup in our local cafes and I think you may have just revealed the secrets. I like the variations you've included.

Shelley said...

Terri - Would it be the spices or the puree-ing that was the secret do you think?