Naan – at HOME!

I love naan, but it’s nearly impossible to create the yummy Indian delight without a tandoor…until Cook’s Illustrated starting experimenting.  And guess what?  I tried their “success story” and am here to inform you that….wait for it, wait for it…they did a pretty darn good job!

This recipe does take some planning ahead (and the instructions look daunting), but there’s really no part of this recipe that is overly difficult.


  • ½ c. ice water
  • 1/3 c. greek yogurt
  • 3 TBS plus 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ c. tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 ½ TBS butter, melted

In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine water, yogurt, 3 TBS oil, and egg yolk.  Process flour, sugar, and yeast in food processor until combined, about 2 seconds.  With processor running, slowly add water mixture; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds.  Let dough stand for 10 minutes.

Add salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 30 to 60 seconds.  Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute.  Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees.  Place heatproof plate on rack.  Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and divide into 4 equal pieces.  Shape each piece into a smooth, type ball.  Place dough balls on lightly oiled baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic coated with vegetable oil spray.  Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes

Transfer 1 ball to lightly floured work surface and sprinkle with flour.  Using hands and rolling pin, press and roll piece of dough into 9 inch round of even thickness, sprinkling dough and work surface with flour as needed to prevent sticking.  Using for, poke entire surface of round 20-25 times.  Heat remaining 1 tsp. oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Wipe oil out of skillet completely with paper towels.  Mist top of dough lightly with water, and cover.  Cook until bottom is browned in spots across surface, 2 to 4 minutes.  Flip naan, cover, and continue to cook on second side until lightly browned (if naan puffs up, gently poke with fork to deflate).  Flip naan, brush top with butter, transfer to plate in oven, and cover plate tightly with aluminum foil.  Repeat rolling and cooking remaining 3 dough balls.  Once last naan is baked, serve immediately.

Categories: Breads, Indian, Recipes | Tags: | 5 Comments

Saag Paneer (Spinach Curry with Fresh Cheese)

I love Indian food – the spices in Indian food are just so different from other cuisines!

Here’s a good weekend meal since its going to take a bit of time to press the homemade simple cheese and to allow the flavors to mingle.


  • 8 c. whole milk
  • 1/4 c. plus 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 5 tsp. salt
  • 4 pounds spinach, well rinsed and thick stems removed
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeded
  • 1 piece ginger (3 in.), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 TBS vegetable oil
  • Seeds from 7 cardamom pods
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 TBS ground coriander
  • 1 TBS ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 canned tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 c. whole-milk yogurt
  • 2 tsp. garam masala

Line a colander with 2 layers of cheesecloth and set in the sink. Bring milk to boil in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Let it boil 30 seconds (remove from heat if it starts to boil over) and stir in 1/4 cup lemon juice. Milk will curdle, separating into cheese curds and a clear yellow whey. Pour into cheesecloth-lined colander.

Rinse curds with cold water. Pull up edges of the cheesecloth, gently squeeze out as much water as possible, and form curds into a 6-in. disk. Put cheesecloth-wrapped disk on a large plate, top with a large cutting board, and weigh down with a heavy pot. Put in the refrigerator and let press at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. To boiling water, add 3 tsp. salt and the spinach. Cook 1 minute, then drain and transfer spinach to ice water. Swirl around to cool spinach and drain again. Use your hands to squeeze water from spinach. Set aside.

In a blender, whirl garlic, onions, chiles, ginger, and 1/4 cup of water to make a paste. Set aside.

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, add oil, cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, and cinnamon. Cook until spices darken, about 2 minutes. Add reserved onion paste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and darkens, about 15 minutes. If the mixture starts to stick, add 1 tbsp. of water at a time, stirring, to help loosen it.

Stir in coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomato and yogurt. Cook until thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in spinach and remaining salt. Turn heat to low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors are blended, about 30 minutes.

Cut paneer into 1/2-in. cubes and gently stir into spinach mixture. Cook until paneer is heated through, about 2 minutes. Add garam masala and remaining lemon juice. Adjust salt and lemon juice to taste. Serve hot, with flatbread or rice.

Recipe from Sunset

Categories: Entrees, Indian, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Lightened Up Samosas

One of my co-workers is from India and treats us every once in awhile to samosas that he makes the night before. They.  Are.  Incredible.  Like seriously.  I don’t know how he does it, but they’re even good reheated in the microwave.  What fried food is actually good reheated in the microwave?  None…accept for these.

Unfortunately for you, I don’t have that amazing recipe, BUT I did find a recipe for some lighter ones that are pan fried rather than deep fried.  The filling tasted pretty similar and I have to imagine these were easier to assemble than the treats I often look forward to.

Oh and make sure you make the chutney, too – its delicious!



  • 1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 c. fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 c. chopped red onion
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TBS water
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. sugar
  • 1 serrano chile, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger


  • 1 1/4 c. mashed cooked peeled baking potatoes
  • 1/4 c. cooked yellow lentils
  • 1 TBS minced fresh mint
  • 1 tsp. Madras curry powder
  • 1 tsp. butter, softened
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 c. frozen petite green peas, thawed
  • 10 egg roll wrappers
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

To prepare chutney, combine first 9 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Set aside.

To prepare samosas, combine potatoes, lentils, mint, curry powder, 1 teaspoon butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cumin. Gently fold in peas.

Working with 1 egg roll wrapper at a time (cover remaining wrappers to prevent drying), cut down middle to form 2 long rectangles. Moisten edges of wrapper with egg. Spoon 1 tablespoon potato mixture near bottom edge of wrapper. Fold up from 1 corner to the opposite outer edge of the wrapper, making a triangle. Fold over to opposite side again as if folding up a flag. Repeat fold to opposite side to form a triangle. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Lightly coat samosas with cooking spray. Add samosas to pan, and cook 1 minute on each side. Drain on paper towels. Serve with chutney.

Cooking Light

Categories: Appetizers, Condiments, Indian, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Dhal with Cumin & Mustard Seeds

I really love Indian flavors, but usually cheat on weeknights by using simmer sauces purchased at the store.  While not gourmet, they really are quite delicious and it honestly doesn’t get much easier than throwing chicken breasts into the skillet and pouring sauce over them.  But those are for weeknights when I’m exhausted or for when we are completely out of groceries (simmer sauce is on the list of my staples, along with dried pasta, rice, chicken breast, black beans, etc.).  Weekends call for real Indian food.  From scratch.  And making my own ghee.

Let’s start with the ghee.  Ghee is a browned clarified butter with a rich, nutty flavor that’s often used in Indian cooking.  You can buy ghee at Indian grocers…or you can make your own for a heck of a lot cheaper!  Just make sure you keep an eye on it.  Mine went from almost done to burnt in the about the 30 seconds it took me to walk over to the pantry to gather ingredients.  Whoopsie.


  • 1/2 cup butter

Place butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook 20 minutes or until solids have turned a nut brown, stirring occasionally. Skim solids from surface of melted butter; discard solids. Slowly pour remaining butter out of pan, leaving remaining solids in pan; discard solids.

And now for the Dhal.  This is FANTASTIC served with warm, fresh naan, a dollop of yogurt, and coriander chutney (this I did buy from the grocery).  This dish was incredible and is extremely filling as well.  My Indian friends at work were really excited when this showed up in my lunch box, so it must at least smelled and looked legit!  Enjoy!


  • 3 1/2 tablespoons Ghee, divided
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • 3/4 cup diced carrot (about 1 large)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 large cloves)
  • 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper (about 2)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound yellow split peas
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons Ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Stir in broth and next 7 ingredients (through peas); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Place mustard and cumin seeds in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; cook for 1 minute or until toasted. Add remaining 3 tablespoons Ghee; cook 1 minute or until seeds begin to pop. Stir into soup; serve immediately.

Cooking Light

Categories: Entrees, Indian, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Chickpea Curry with Yogurt

If only I would have had the desire to make homemade naan to go with this dinner!  I would have dug in and in true Indian fashion, eaten the meal with my fingers!  Next time!  This had delicious flavors from all the spices and was very filling.  I loved the different textures that stood out (beans, onions, tomatoes, and smooth yogurt) which is a bit different from other Indian dishes where everything has kind of been stewed together.  This reminded me of a curried lentil dish which is probably why I had the desire to dig in with my hands…unfortunately my several-day-old store-bought pita bread didn’t really stand up to the challenge.


  • 2 tsp. peanut oil
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 2 TBS minced, peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. chopped plum tomato (about 1 large)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 (15.5 oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 c. plain whole milk yogurt
  • 1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add cumin, coriander, cardamom, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant, stirring frequently.  Add ginger and garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Stir in garam masala, and cook 10 seconds, stirring constantly.  Stir in 1 cup water, tomato, salt, and chickpeas; bring to a simmer.  Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat; discard cinnamon sticks and bay leaves.  Stir in yogurt and cilantro.

Adapted from Cooking Light, April 2005

Categories: Entrees, Indian, Recipes | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Chicken Shawarma

Yum, yum, yum.  I love Middle Eastern food- the spices, the cool yogurt sauces, and the bread!  Today’s recipe combines my favorite elements of Middle Eastern food into one quick, easy, and healthy dinner.  The recipe calls for grilling the chicken, but I didn’t feel like dragging the grill out for just myself, so I cooked my chicken in a non-stick fry pan (without oil to save on some calories).  While I’m sure the grill would add some extra flavor I can’t harness from a pan, the chicken was still tender and delicious.  Maybe I’ll grill next time when I make this for Branden (in other words, I’ll have him grill the chicken).


For the Chicken:

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3 inch pieces
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced

For the Sauce:

  • 1/2 c. plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt (I really like Fage – its what I ate everyday in Greece)
  • 2 TBS tahini
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced

For Serving

  • 4 6″ pitas
  • 1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 English cucumber, julienned
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat
  2. To prepare chicken, combine ingredients in medium bowl.  Add chicken to bowl, toss well to coat.  Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  3. To prepare sauce, combine ingredients well.
  4. Thread 2 chicken strips onto each of 6 (12″) skewers.  Place kebabs on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until done.
  5. Place pitas on grill rack; grill 1 minute on each side or until lightly toasted.  Place 1 pita on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1/4 cup of lettuce and tomato slices.  Top each serving with 4 chicken pieces; drizzle each with 2 TBS of sauce.

Cooking Light: July 2008

Categories: Entrees, Indian, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

And Away We Go…

I’m struggling with where to start here because April has been so full of adventures in the food world.  Branden and I have been traveling a lot this month which took us to some AWESOME restaurants.  And then we had Easter and Branden’s birthday which of course led to more food adventures!  Ah!  So much to share, so little time!

Alas, I shall just start with dinner tonight and get to the other recipes that I can’t wait to share in the coming days…[SPOILER ALERT: I have some Mexican recipes and two cake recipes in the queue for this week, so stay tuned!]

The weekday dinner.  Always a challenge.  I struggle on weekdays a bit because I’m often cooking for one during the week while Branden’s out flying around the country.  Combine the idea of cooking for one with the fact that I don’t like to stay up late and you have the following challenge: make a meal that’s fast and relatively simple that either serves one or can be easily reheated.  Tonight was no different.  I needed something satisfying and I was sick of the salmon caesar salads I have been recently living off of because of my obsession with my homemade croutons…but that’s a whole other post.

The verdict: Tandoori Chicken.  This dinner is seriously so easy, its embarassing.  Golden Temple has a whole line of simmer sauces that make weeknight Indian dishes a cinch.  Brown a pound of cut up boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a skillet, pour the simmer sauce over, and give it a stir.  As the name suggests, let the sauce simmer and you’re good to go.  I served over basmati rice and topped with a fresh cilantro and a little greek yogurt concoction I stirred up.

Greek Yogurt is an obsession of mine, especially in savory dishes.  I began my relationship with this amazing condiment (yes, I consider it a condiment and I usually have it on hand in my fridge) while spending a month in Greece a few years ago.  Its so versatile and for tonight’s dinner, I just stirred in a little cumin, paprika, and dried oregano into a cup of yogurt.  Plain and simple, and the cool flavor of the yogurt balances the acidic flavors of the Tandoori sauce.

All in all, I can’t complain about this meal.  How could I?  I was able to whip up a hot meal in less than 30 minutes and now have leftovers to take for lunch tomorrow.  What more can you ask for?

Nervous about Indian Food?  Golden Temple simmer sauces are a great way to test the waters.  At around $4 a jar (which I personally think is more than enough for the one pound of chicken the jar calls for- in fact, I usually use two and still have plenty of sauce), its an inexpensive way to try something new.  My entire meal (rice, 2 pounds of chicken, yogurt, and sauce) ran me about $15-$20 but serves 4.  $5/person for a cultural experience in the comfort of my own home…priceless.


Categories: Entrees, Indian, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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