Recipe and Photo Courtesy of In Pursuit of More
In Pursuit of More: “the blog about living with (just a little) less.” Shira, a mother of two, has been a vegetarian her entire life and subscribes to the philosophy that “eating lots is never as good as eating well.” She also started a nonprofit organization called Not So Fast, which raises money for food relief groups and offers cooking classes for kids to promote healthy eating and food education.
For coriander spiced lentils:
• 1 1/2 cups green or brown lentils
• 3 cups water
• 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle and set aside (or use ground coriander)
• 2-3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
• 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle (or ground cumin)
• 1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle (optional)
• 4-6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
• 1 lemon
• 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
• Butter or ghee to finish (optional)
For chapatis (Indian flatbread):
• 1 cup whole wheat flour
• 1 cup white all purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3/4-1 cup hot water from the tap
• Up to 1/4 cup olive or vegetable oil for cooking
1. For the lentils: Start by combining the lentils, water and coriander in a medium pot with a lid and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to medium, and keep the lentils simmering with the lid just ajar until soft, adding more water as necessary to keep the lentils moist (but not runny).
2. Once you put up the lentils and they are simmering, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the ground cumin, mustard seeds, and chopped garlic and cook, until fragrant for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add this mixture to the pot of cooking lentils and coriander when it is ready. The whole cooking process will be about 30-40 minutes and should produce cooked lentils that are a thick consistency without needing draining.
3. When the lentils are cooked, add the juice of one lemon (or to taste) and season with salt and optional butter or ghee. Set aside until ready to serve. To re-heat, simply add more water as necessary to attain the desired consistency and warm on the stove a few minutes until hot.
4. For flatbread: Start by mixing the two flours in a large bowl and adding the salt. With your hands as your mixers, add the pre-measured warm water with one hand while mixing in with your other hand until your get a sticky round ball of dough.
5. Next, prepare a lightly floured surface and turn the dough out from the bowl. This is the fun part, and if you are looking for an arm workout, you are in the right place (now I know how my dad stayed so ripped all those years). Knead the dough roughly, using more flour as needed, for as long as you can muster, pounding it hard with your fists to release the gluten in the flour. The better job you do, the better the end result, keep in mind I am a brutal kneader and my chapatis still turned out great.
6. Once you have sufficiently roughed up the dough (about 10 minutes if you make it that far), shape it into an oblong shape with your hands. Break off golf ball sized pieces of dough and roll them into round balls as best you can. With a rolling pin, roll them out as thinly as possible using the same floured work surface, doing your best to make circle like shapes (this part will take a few tries). Personally I like them like I like my pizza dough – beautifully irregular. Roll until they are all ready. Prepare the olive oil and a pastry brush and set beside the cooking station.
7. To cook, heat a large flat frying pan on high until water sizzles on contact. Drop the rolled chapatis one at a time and cook as follows: Heat on the first side for 20 seconds, then flip over and (very) lightly brush with olive oil, cook for about 30 seconds pushing down hard in the center with your spatula—you will see air pockets rising up in the dough as it cooks, a very good sign! Flip and press, adding a small amount of oil to the other side so they are both lightly oiled, and cook for a total of two minutes all in, until you have a spotted, puffed up flat bread that makes you proud! Repeat until all are cooked.
8. If serving right away, cover the chapatis with foil or a clean tea towel to keep warm. They can also be covered in foil and kept hot in the oven at 300 degrees or so until ready to eat. For leftovers, simply heat in the microwave, or my favorite, warmed right over a gas-heating element on the stove.
9. To serve, do as we did (or do as you like but this is so delicious). Grate some carrots, which are always available and are always cheap, and get some enzyme rich alfalfa sprouts—you can grow your own—or buy them at your local grocer. Make a delicious sauce, such as this easy cilantro sauce (a new one is coming soon), or your favorite hot sauce (like my dad did).
10. Layer the hot spiced lentils over the warm chapatis, and top with grated carrots, sprouts, and sauce. Wrap up burrito style and enjoy. Leftover chapatis can be used in all manner of ways: for quesadillas, wrapped up with butter and jam and cut into bite sized pieces, or used as a pizza base layer for kids to enjoy.