Chef’s Notes: The Paper Chef is a cooking challenge in which cooks are challenged to create a recipe using a list of ingredients. This month’s host chose these ingredients: yams, lentils, green tea, and chicken (or a vegetarian substitute). This recipe is my submission for the challenge.
Initially, I was completely stumped by this combination of ingredients. As the host said, “There are so many varieties of each ingredient and subtleties of flavors in each.” Indeed.
My recipe is basically an Indian-style sandwich. Naan (a flatbread similar to pita bread) made with lentil flour. Tofu marinated in green tea chai and then grilled. Surna koot, which is spicy yam chutney. (I had to make a lot of substitutions for the surna koot. Original recipes called for asafoetida (substituted garlic and onion), tamarind (substituted brown sugar and lime juice), and fenugreek and mustard seeds (substituted a curry blend with those two spices plus a lot of other Indian spices). The result may not be an exact replica of an authentic surna koot, but it is tasty.)
Lentil Naan Filled with Chai-Spiced Tofu and Surna Koot
(Makes 4 sandwiches)
1 package active dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
3/4 C. warm water
1/2 C. lentil flour
1/2 C. wheat flour
1/2 C. white flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 C. ghee (clarified butter)*
3 T. plain yogurt
In a small bowl, combine water, sugar and yeast. Allow yeast to soften and stir until yeast is dissolved. Cover with towel and allow yeast and water to froth for 5-10 minutes.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine flours and salt. Add yeast water, yogurt, and ghee. Turn out onto clean surface and begin to knead for 5-10 minutes, until a dough forms.
Place dough in bowl coated with oil and turn dough around to evenly coat. Cover bowl with towel and allow to rise in a warm area for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Divide dough into 12 pieces and shape each piece into a flat oval. Place dough on baking stone. (You will have to cook the naan one or two at time.) Cook in oven for 8 minutes or until lightly browned and puffed up.
(Only 2 naan are used in this recipe. The rest can be stacked, with waxed paper between each naan, placed in a plastic bag, and used within a day or two, or frozen.)
*How to make ghee
Squeeze excess moisture from tofu. Cut tofu in half, and then cut each half into about 8 slices. Put the slices in a shallow glass dish; do not overlap the slices. Pour the chai over the tofu, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour. Place the marinated slices on a broiler pan and broil in the oven for 5 minutes.
1 medium-size yam (should yield about 2 cups when diced)
1/4 C. canola oil
1 T. olive oil
4 red chili peppers, seeded and sliced (should yield about 1/2 cup pepper slices)
1 tsp. minced onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 T. lime juice
1 T. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. curry spice blend (with fenugreek and mustard seeds)
Peel yam and dice in small pieces. Place in small bowl and cover with cold water; stir in a dash of salt. Let soak for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Heat canola oil in medium fry pan; add yam to oil and fry until very crispy. Set aside to cool.
Heat the 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet. Sauté the peppers and onion until very tender. Add garlic and sauté for a few additional minutes. Combine sautéed peppers, onion, and garlic in food processor with lime juice, brown sugar, and spice blend. Purée until the mixture is the consistency of a paste.
Stir together the pepper paste and the cooled yams.
Cut two naan in half and open each pocket. Fill with fresh spinach leaves, and equal amounts of tofu and surna koot.