At the Table

Clearing the cabinets: Indian Dal and Butter Naan

For the past week (during the gap between our October food budget running out and the November budget beginning ), we made it our goal to eat from the dry goods, frozen ingredients, and odd leftovers we already had in the house.  I usually divide the month’s budget into 4 weekly portions (and meal plan/shop for a week at a time), which of course leaves a couple of odd days (the 28th-31st, or so) at the end of the month that haven’t necessarily been budgeted, planned, or shopped for for.  I could plan in advance for this, but usually don’t.  It’s okay, though, because it gives us a chance to clear out the cabinets and the fridge, and cut down on food waste (I hope) in the process.  Even though the November budget started a few days ago, I decided to just finish out the week with “cabinet-clearing” recipes, and get the unshopped-for, unbudgeted days out of the way right off the bat.

Last night’s dinner was made with things that I almost always have on hand, and even if I had bought them with the intention of making this meal, it would have cost just pennies per serving (about $3 total, and the recipes make ~4 servings).  I totally forgot to take pictures, but the recipe links have better ones than I could have taken, anyway.

I used this recipe for the red lentil dal, without changing much.  I used dried peppers and tomatoes from this summer instead of fresh, since that’s what we had at home, and substituted ground ginger, as well.  The spiced oil is definitely Indian in nature, but if you’re wary of some of the spices, I think it would taste fine with just a little cumin and paprika.

The soup is fine on its own, but the addition of butter naan to the meal really makes it awesome.  I’ve only made this naan twice, but both times it was the star of the meal.  Between the two of us, we ate 7 pieces last night (and only saved the eighth so I’d have something to eat with the leftover lentils for lunch today), it’s so good!

Butter Naan

Makes 14-16 pieces (half a batch is perfect for 2-3 people)

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast (2.25 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • Spices, optional*
  • 2 T. butter, melted

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise in a warm place. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

Punch down dough, and knead in spices, if using. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

When it comes to cooking the naan, you’ve got a couple options.  I’ve made it both on the grill and using a cast-iron skillet on the stovetop, which produced similar results.  I’ve also seen it baked, which I doubt would produce quite the same texture/flavor – if you try it, let me know how it works out!

To grill:

  • During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.  At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.


  • During the end of the second rise, heat a cast-iron (I used a non-enamel) skillet over medium-high heat until it is smoking.  Flatten the balls of dough into thin circles (about 4 inches across), and lightly moisten using wet fingertips.  Place 2 circles of dough on the skillet and cook for 1 minute, until the naan is bubbling up and is nearly blackened on the underside.  Flip it over, brush the just-cooked side with melted butter, and cover the skillet (if you’ve got a lid) for 30 seconds, giving the second side time to cook.  Once they’re out of the pan, brush the second side with butter, and lightly sprinkle with salt, if you want.

* A note on spices:  I’m not sure if it’s at all traditional, but I really like adding some ground spices to the dough.  Last night, I mixed in a scant 1/2 teaspoon each of garlic and onion powder, plus a good shake of coriander and cumin (for half a batch), which was pretty tasty.  We compared the naan to a hybrid of really good garlic breadsticks and Auntie Anne’s soft pretzels.

2 thoughts on “Clearing the cabinets: Indian Dal and Butter Naan

  1. Pingback: February Menu Planning | Little House Bliss

  2. Pingback: $100 a month meal plan | Little House Bliss

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