Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lentil Curry (Dal)

First let me begin by saying that my mom makes an excellent chicken curry, which my husband requests all the time and I will get around to posting one of these days!  Today, however, I am going to share my recipe for lentil curry or Dal.  It was a college roommate of mine that first introduced me to lentil curry.  Lentils are a great non-meat protein source and they also contain fiber, folate, and vitamin B1, yum!  In college I shared a house with five of my friends and I seem to remember everyone in the house loving this dish.  Of course I lost the original recipe at some point, but it's a fairly simple dish so here is my re-creation:

Enough for Two (main dishes)-multiply as needed:

1 Cup Dry Lentils (+3 cups water)
1 Small Vidalia Onion-finely chopped
2 Tbsp. Ghee or Olive Oil
1/4 tsp. Ground Cardamom
1/4 tsp. Turmeric
1/4 tsp. Ground Coriander Seed
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1.5-2 tbsp. Curry Powder
1 tsp. Tamarind Paste
2 tbsp. Whole Cream
Salt and Pepper to taste

(Serve with Basmati Rice)

Sort and rinse lentils.  Boil 3 cups salted water, add lentils and simmer 20 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached.   This would also be a good time to put on the rice!

While rice and lentils boil melt ghee or olive oil in a small saucepan, add chopped onion and saute over med-low heat for 5 minutes or until onions are softening.  Add cardamom, turmeric, cumin, coriander and curry powder.  Cook until onions are soft and spices are fragrant.  Add tamarind paste.

Drain any excess liquid from lentils.  Stir onions and spices into lentils and add whole cream.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice with a dollop of sour cream.

The fun part about this recipe is that you can play around with it, adjusting the spices to your taste, trying different kinds of lentils, or maybe adding a dash of tomato sauce?  If you don't have access to things like Ghee or Tamarind paste, don't fret!  I wouldn't have them either save for my mother-in-law and the new Indian market down the road from her!  You can try substituting olive oil, sesame oil, or regular butter for the ghee or a teaspoon or two of brown sugar and a squeeze of lime juice instead of tamarind paste (although tamarind is a very unique flavor and I do suggest trying it if you can get your hands on it.  A side note: it can also be used to make homemade Worchestershire sauce!)

**Also, thought I'd add that research points to numerous health benefits of curry powder and turmeric (which is also in curry powder), including anti-inflammatory properties, reducing arthritis symptoms, improving brain function and potentially guarding against Alzheimer's, and preventing the onset of, and fighting, several cancers including breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and skin cancer.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Neapolitan Pizza Dough & White Pizza Recipe

One of the things I miss most about living in Italy is pizza.  They make the best pizza dough there, thin but chewy.  I know there are pizzerias in the States that make this kind of dough but I don't seem to ever live near any of them.  The mainstream delivery places make "thin crust" pizzas now but they are crispy and all wrong!  This recipe is the nearest thing I have found to traditional Neapolitan pizza dough.  Thin, but still soft and flexible.  And an added bonus, no waiting for the dough to rise!

  • 3 tsp. dry yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
  • 3/4 cup of lukewarm water
  • 1 3/4 cups of unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
Place lukewarm water in stand mixer bowl and add sugar.  Sprinkle over yeast and let sit for 5-10 minutes until frothy.   Add salt and flour.  Knead on speed 2 for about 3 minutes.  Turn dough out onto floured pizza stone and stretch by hand into a 12" circle.  Top with your favorite toppings (white pizza recipe below) and bake in a preheated oven at 450-500 F for 8-12 minutes.  Put toppings on THINLY, if you put a lot of toppings or sauce on then cook longer at the lower temp or the dough won't cook all the way through.  If you are lucky enough to have a wood fired oven in your backyard this would be even more amazing and authentic (husband are you reading?).

We love pizza with all kinds of toppings but the one pictures above is a white pizza and here's how you make it:

In lieu of a red tomato-based pizza sauce make a garlic butter sauce as follows:

Melt half a stick of butter in the microwave or on your stovetop. Add 2 cloves crushed, chopped fresh garlic.  Do not cook the garlic just allow it to flavor the butter.

Spread garlic butter on pizza crust.

Top with:

*Slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
*Dollops of ricotta cheese
*Shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
*Chopped fresh basil
*Fresh ground black pepper

(Also great with goat cheese!...and pine nuts...and roasted garlic cloves...the possibilities are endless)