Recipe: Lentil Daal + Sweet & Sticky Grilled Paneer
I love Indian food in general, but for some reason it just tastes extra special in the fall. The rich flavors, the bold colors, the beautiful spices—it all was made for this time of year.
For those who’ve never made Indian food at home, I want to preface that it’s generally very simple. Lots of simmering, lots of one-pot goodness. Daal in particular is a great option for first-timers and is very accessible for those who think they “don’t like Indian food.” A staple of Indian cuisine, daal is essentially a soup of red, green and/or brown lentils that’s traditionally served with rice or naan. It’s pretty healthy and full of plant-based protein in the form of lentils, so expect a filling meal.
Paneer is another common ingredient in Indian dishes; it’s an unaged, non-melting farmer cheese that’s made by curdling milk with a vegetable-derived acid, like lemon juice. Two popular Indian dishes featuring paneer in the starring role are Palak Paneer (paneer in a thick paste made from puréed spinach and seasoned with garlic, garam masala, and other spices) and Matar Paneer (a vegetarian North Indian dish consisting of peas and paneer in a tomato based sauce, spiced with garam masala).
We decided to grill our paneer and marinate it in what Ed refers to as “sweet & sticky sauce.” It’s a glaze he uses a lot when he grills pork, and you should’ve seen his face when he tasted it with the paneer! Pure amazement. The daal here ended up being a bit spicy, so the sweetness of the paneer really helped to balance out the flavors and add a different texture. We served it over quinoa and with garlic naan (get the frozen kind from Trader Joe’s) for dipping. Would love to hear what you think about this recipe in the comments!
1/2 c. lentils (whichever color is available)
14 oz. can coconut milk (we used the light kind, but the full-fat kind will make it extra creamy)
14 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 T. ground ginger
1 T. chili powder
1 T. curry powder
1 T. turmeric
1 package paneer, cut into “logs”
2 oz. orange juice (we actually used the orange-pineapple variety)
1/2 t. coriander
1/2 t. Chinese five spice
Quinoa or rice
Salt & pepper
1) After cutting the paneer into logs, add to a plastic bag with a squeeze of honey, a double squeeze of sriracha, two garlic cloves, a dash of ginger, the orange juice, a light drizzle of olive oil, pepper (to taste), the coriander and the Chinese five spice. Toss to coat and allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes.
2) When the paneer is done marinating, add it to the grill over medium-high heat. Cook for three minutes, then rotate the logs a quarter turn and cook three minutes. Flip, cook for three minutes, then rotate another quarter turn and cook for an additional three minutes (so 12 minutes total).
3) Cook the quinoa or rice according to package directions and set aside.
4) For the daal, heat some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add the remaining six garlic cloves, the jalapeño and the onion. Sauté until the onion becomes translucent and the jalapeño begins to soften.
5) Add the lentils, coconut milk, diced tomatoes, ginger, chili powder, curry powder and turmeric and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
6) Scoop your quinoa or rice into a bowl, then top with a couple ladles of the daal. Serve with the grilled paneer and naan, if desired.