This was a strange weekend to be at work – so grey and dreary, the restaurant was not at all busy, and I just wanted to be home, where it was warm and bright and my family scampered through the day. I thought all day, too, about making this curry. I wanted something bright and warm and comforting and flavorful. So that’s what I made. It’s got a sauce made with cashews, golden raisins and coconut (I used just plain old sweetened flaked coconut, as it happens.) And it’s got kale, potatoes and chickpeas. It had a nice texture, soft, but not mushy, and the flavor was a little sweet, a little spicy, and balanced with lemon. And these naan!! I had some ricotta left over from a tart I made the other day, and I decided to make the naan with that instead of yogurt, as is traditional. And I added an egg and some melted butter. Maybe I should stop calling them naan, as I drift farther and farther from the original recipe! They turned out so delicious, though. Tender, flavorful, simple. I couldn’t stop eating them!! None of this was hard to make, either, it was an after-work meal, after all.
Here’s Ombra Mai Fu, from Handel’s Xerxes. My friend Diane suggested it yesterday, and it’s so beautiful!
1 medium-sized bunch of kale (about 4 cups, raw)
2 medium-sized potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/3 inch dice
1 can chickpeas
1 T olive oil
1 shallot – minced
1 clove garlic – minced
1 t dried basil (or a small handful fresh – added at the end)
1 t red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
1 t cardamom
1 t ginger
1/2 t fenugreek,
1/2 t turmeric
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved, or one medium-sized tomato chopped
1/2 cup roasted or toasted cashews
1/2 cup coconut (I used flaked sweetened, because I had it on hand for baking, but unsweetened would probably be preferable)
1/3 cup golden raisins soaked in 1/2 cup boiling water
1 T butter
juice of one lemon
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
Wash the kale and pull the leaves off their stems, discarding the stems, and dropping the leaves in a pot of boiling water. Boil for about ten minutes, until the kale is bright and soft. Drain, reserving the cooking water. When cool enough to handle, chop quite finely.
In a large soup pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallot, red pepper flakes and basil, stir and cook for about a minute, then add the garlic and potatoes. Stir and cook until the potatoes start to soften and brown, about 5 mminutes. (Add a ladleful of kale-cooking water if the garlic starts to burn) Add the chickpeas and tomatoes, stir and cook for a few minutes. Then add the kale.
Meanwhile, combine the coconut, cashews and raisins in a processor or blender, including the soaking water, plus about one more cup of warm water. Process until quite smooth.
Add the spices to the curry, and then immediately add the sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are as soft as you like them – about twenty minutes should do it.
Stir in the butter and lemon juice, and season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Serve over basmati rice, with…
2 cups flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
3 T melted butter
1/2 cup (+/-) hot water
In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper. Make a well in the center and add the ricotta, egg, and butter. Stir to combine everything into a soft but workable dough – I added about 1/2 cup hot water. Knead for a minute or two, it should be sticky, but you should be able to handle it fairly easily.
Set the dough aside to rest for about 1/2 hour.
Break off a piece of dough about the size of a tangerine. On a well-floured counter, roll it to be about 1/4 inch thick. It doesn’t need to be uniformly round. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Warm a frying pan over medium heat, and melt a dollop of butter in it. Drop a round of flattened dough in the butter, and slide it around to absorb all the butter. Cook for a few minutes, and when it starts to develop brown spots, flip it to brown the other side. Repeat with all the dough.
If your pan starts to smoke, rinse it with cool water, dry it, and start again with a little less butter. Keep the naan warm in a warm oven or toaster as you finish all the rest.