The naan itself is based mainly on Meera Sodha’s in Made in India (though she adds baking powder for an extra bit of lift) but I have tried lots of different recipes. If you go to the trouble of making naan the rest of the meal can be fairly simple – Indian spiced roast chicken, leg of lamb, or dal with fresh chutneys and raita.
500g strong white bread flour
1½ tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
7g sachet fast-acting yeast
5 tbsp natural yogurt
2 tbsp melted ghee or butter, cooled (but still liquid)
200ml warm milk
For the filling:
70g unsalted butter
6 tbsp desiccated coconut
3 tbsp raisins
6 tbsp ground almonds
1½ tsp sugar
75g melted ghee or butter
Nigella seeds or black sesame seeds (optional)
Put the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the yogurt and melted butter. Mix together, then gradually add the milk and 50ml water to make a soft, sticky dough.
Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about five minutes. Put in a large, lightly oiled bowl, turning it until coated in oil. Cover and leave in warm place until doubled in size.
To make the filling, melt the butter on a medium-low heat. Mix in the remaining filling ingredients and leave to cool.
Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and punch it down, then divide into eight balls. Set them on a floured baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with flour, cover with cling film and leave for 20 minutes.
Take each ball and push some filling into the middle, closing the dough over it. Flatten with your hands and shape into a teardrop or oval (about 20x10cm). Put the prepared naans on floured baking sheets.
Put a non-stick frying pan over a very high heat until it is really hot. Put a naan into the pan. When it starts to bubble and go brown, turn it over and cook the other side until it is browned in patches. Keep turning it over until it is cooked through, puffed up and scorched here and there.
Keep warm in a low oven while you finish making the others. Brush with melted ghee or butter and sprinkle with the seeds, if using.
Sweet potato and lentil curry:
As with other spiced dishes in this book, I realize there is a risk of creating office tensions, as the waft of the orient drifts across computer screens and up nostrils. Some homemade biscuits should resolve matters.
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
Salt and pepper
1 tsp onion seeds (optional)
1 tbsp garam masala
100g/3½oz/½ cup red lentils, rinsed
1 large sweet potato, cubed
200ml/7fl oz/generous ¾ cup coconut milk
1 tbsp tomato purée (tomato paste)
200ml/7fl oz/generous ¾ cup water or stock
TO SERVE :
Naan bread or roti (or pitta)
Heat a little oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring regularly, until softened.
Add the spices and stir for a minute or so, then add the lentils, sweet potato, coconut milk, tomato purée and water. Give it a good stir and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer gently for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender and breaking up. Cool and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
IN EACH LUNCHBOX :
Portion of curry (in a microwaveable vessel); bread; yogurt; fresh coriander.
TO FINISH :
Reheat in a microwave on medium for 4–5 minutes. Warm some bread. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a few coriander leaves.
Spring onion bhajis:
Around 10-12 bhajis
80g gram flour
40g rice flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes or fresh chopped chilli
½ tsp turmeric
1 tbsp fresh coriander (optional)
½ tsp salt
About 6 spring onions and 6 shallots, cut into 1-2cm pieces
Vegetable oil, for frying 25g butter or ghee, melted
1 garlic clove, crushed
Put both flours, the bicarb, the spices, coriander (if using) and salt into a large bowl. Add the onions, shallots and garlic and mix in.
Add the lemon juice, butter or ghee and one or two tablespoons of water to bring it together. Leave the batter to rest while you warm the oil over a medium heat.
Test the temperature of the oil by dropping in a tiny bit of the mix. It should start to go brown within 20-30 seconds.
Take a dessertspoon-size blob of the mix and gently and carefully drop it into the oil – repeat with a couple more (leave enough space in the oil for the bhajis to move about a bit).
Cook the bhajis for about three minutes each, turning occasionally to ensure they brown all over, and take them out when they are a nice medium-brown colour. (You will need to fry these in batches).
Dry on kitchen paper to catch the excess oil and serve.