How to Make Everyday Yellow Dal and Naan

Watch as cookbook author Tara O'Brady makes this classic Indian dish in the latest episode of our Cook's Notes series.

Released on 6/24/2016

Transcript

00:01
(utensils clattering)
00:05
(guitar music)
00:08
My parents never gave me cooking lessons,
00:10
but they taught me how to cook.
00:13
Since it was always there, you couldn't help
00:14
but pick it up.
00:19
Even when I am casually cooking, I'm always writing.
00:21
I've always had a kitchen notebook, I've always used
00:24
it as a way to keep track of what's going on in our lives,
00:27
there's carrot cake that says made for the occasion
00:29
of grandma's birthday, and this is what I did differently
00:33
and this is what she liked about it.
00:36
I never cooked Indian food.
00:37
When I started out, I never did that, because my parents
00:39
were such phenomenal cooks.
00:41
It was only when I had kids, I wanted to have those flavors
00:43
in our home in a really real way.
00:46
I said, I have to learn to make these recipes,
00:47
I have to be good at them.
00:50
Why did I do it this way?
00:51
Why do I use that type of bowl?
00:53
The reason is that's what works best.
00:55
When I take my mom's recipe and she tells me,
00:56
no, that's the wrong pan, I believe her,
00:58
because I know that she probably tried it in that pan
01:01
and it didn't work, and it's that collected history
01:02
of cooking that informs so many of the decisions
01:04
that I make in the kitchen.
01:09
It's amazing to me that butter can turn into
01:10
so many things.
01:11
You can make cookies that are crispy, cakes that are moist
01:14
and light and fluffy.
01:16
At the same time, it has such a significance
01:17
when it comes to different cultures.
01:22
Indian culture, it turns into this golden elixir
01:24
called ghee, it cooks for 25, 35 minutes, as slow
01:27
and as low as you can so it has just the barest of bubbles,
01:31
and you strain it off.
01:33
What you're left with is the pure butter fat,
01:35
so it's bringing it to the essence of its flavor.
01:39
It makes you feel like you've done some sort of
01:41
kitchen magic.
01:43
When it comes to things like ghee, I like the time
01:45
it takes because that's what it takes to do it right.
01:50
Yellow Dal, Mung Dal, was the most frequent dal that I had
01:52
growing up.
01:57
Dal is not complicated, but it becomes the center
01:59
of the meal, it's the heart of the meal.
02:02
Sometimes actually the mortar, if you're eating
02:03
with your hands, it's what holds together everything
02:05
else on your plate.
02:11
And there we go, it cooks til it's tender.
02:13
This is called the tarka, or tempering,
02:16
and you cook off onions and ghee, and I add most of this
02:20
to the dal.
02:22
I like to keep a little bit back to stir through at the end.
02:27
Naan is an Indian bread.
02:29
You usually will use it as a matter of conveyance,
02:32
for lack of better term, with curries and dal
02:34
and things like that.
02:38
If you're making naan in advance or you know you're gonna
02:41
have extra, if you put ghee in it, it'll last longer.
02:46
I often say I'm happy if someone makes my recipe once
02:48
and they never make it again because the next time
02:50
they make it their own.
02:52
You might like more salt, you might like ghee in your dough.
03:03
I like mincing up fresh garlic with some cilantro
03:07
or dhania as I like to call it, and then brushing the naan
03:10
with that.
03:14
In any of my recipes, only half of their life
03:16
is on the page.
03:17
Their real life and their important life
03:20
is the life that they have in your kitchen,
03:22
and only you can do that, because this is my half
03:23
of the conversation so I'm waiting to hear from
03:25
what you're adding to it.
03:31
You need a good balance.