There is this photo on my instagram feed – if you scroll to the very beginning – that I sometimes look at to remember simpler times. Back then, I used my iPod touch to take photos and the 1/2 pixel that I hold so dear today was the same 1/2 pixel that irritated me. The year I started “instagramming” was the year I got married. It was the year I said “OKAY!” to a dude and “heck yes” to having the responsibility of (it’s going to sound silly) a piece of technology I wasn’t quite sure I could handle. I had dropped a phone in water, had one stolen from my pocket, made another disappear at the beach and somehow managed to make one stop functioning after 2 months. But this was an iPod so somehow it was different and just as terrifying.
Matt bought me my iPod the same time he came to Goa to get married. It was my Christmas present. I had asked for it and I was half-surprised to open a plastic bag containing it on Christmas day. I can thank London airport security for fancy (un)packaging. The day I got it, I got instagram. I knew I wanted it since I always loved taking mobile photos. Good mobile photos. Not selfies, though that wasn’t a word in 2011 and I took maybe 8. Or 20.
When I scroll back to 2011 on my feed, I see this and this and this and this. I see living parts of me floating around in a virtual catalogue that I was only too trigger-happy to document. I see my past staring at me and every pixel of it reminds me of the world that exists within. I am this person because of all that happened in between those photos and even before. Defintely before. I am this Edlyn because Gayle brought home a cat and taught us they were animals that belonged in our family. I am this Edlyn because my father would dip his finger into his drink and let us taste the feni because it is and will always be a Goan rite of passage. I am this Edlyn because of Cynthia and Ignatius. But most of all, I am this Edlyn because of the bundle of newspaper-wrapped peas, tied with string, that my mother would ask us to shell. The onions they would cut with their backs facing us as we walked into the kitchen. The sounds, the smells, the interruptions – that stays with me. I will always want that to play back in my mind.
I’m probably making a big deal about a photo but I know why I took it that evening. It reminds me of a life that is uninhibited, brave and necessary, while I’m trying to make sense of being “grown up”. It stirs me from my lethargy and shows me why I do this. It all begins with her – my mother’s hands, shelling peas.
– To the one person who ALWAYS reads my blog. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!
Roasted vegetable kale salad with naan and a cheesy-garlic dressing
- The dressing for this salad can be made ahead and kept in the fridge for up to a week. You will have to give it a stir if refrigerating.
- The dough for the naan can be made in advance and stored in the fridge. You can even cook it up to a day ahead. Like day-old bread, naan also tastes great as a “crouton” substitute.
- You will not need all of the naan dough for this salad. About half the dough should be enough for this salad. Like I said, it can be refrigerated and good naan does not go to waste.
- The naan dough should have a consistency that’s sticky but it shouldn’t stick to your hands and be easy to flatten/roll out. I dust my hands with flour and that helps me work with it very easily. Be wary of adding too much flour to the dough as it will dry out the final product. I recommend going with a little flour at a time until you’re comfortable with the dough. Remember that the softer the dough is, the better it’s going to be when it’s cooked.
- Apart from the measurements of flour specified, you will need to throw in a little more flour over the naan to make it easy to work with. That’s a given. I’ll probably say this about a million times too.
- Naan usually cooks at a very high temperature when it’s made in a tandoor (clay oven) but the stove-top method is my favourite in the absence of a tandoor. Keep the stove at a medium-high heat. If it starts smoking too quickly, turn it down to medium heat. You will have to stand by the stove while it’s cooking and the best part is, it doesn’t even take that long.
Salad barely adapted from 101 Cookbooks
For the naan
- 145 gms unbleached all-purpose flour + more for dusting and kneading
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1oo ml/3 fl. oz lukewarm water (heated not more than 115 degrees Fahrenheit)
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 3.5 gms or 1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 61 gms/1/4 cup full fat yogurt
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Ghee, to cook the naan
For the salad
- 1 bunch lacinato kale (about 4 cups)
- 1 leek, cut in half length-wise and then cut in 1/2-1 inch half-rounds (only white and light-green parts)
- 3 carrots, cut in half length-wise and then cut in rounds 1-inch rounds
- 1 bunch broccolini
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- A big pinch of dry mango powder (optional, but it’s sooooooooo good)
- Salt + pepper, to taste
- Pumpkin seeds, to garnish
For the dressing
- 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 large garlic cloves (About 4 tsp)
- A pinch of salt
- 4 tbsp parmigiano-reggiano + more to sprinkle on top
- A crack of fresh pepper
To make the naan: Whisk together the all-purpose flour and salt in a large bowl. (And by whisk, I mean use your fingers). Measure out the water and dissolve the sugar in it. Heat the water to a temperature that’s between 100 degrees F to 115 degrees F. Add the yeast to the water and let it sit in a warm spot fro 10 minutes, until the liquid gets foamy.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and vegetable oil until it blends together. Once the yeast foams up, add the yogurt-oil mixture to it and stir once or twice. Make a well into the centre of the flour and pour in the yeast-yogurt liquid. Using a fork or a woodden spoon, stir the liquid into the flour until it forms into a sticky dough. Dust ab0ut a tablespoon more of flour on the top then stir a couple more times. Cover the bowl (I usually use a small salad plate) and place in a warm area.
After an hour, the dough should have risen. The texture of the dough might still be sticky at this point but that’s okay. Before you start rolling the dough, place a heavy-bottomed skillet on the stove on medium-high heat. Flour the surface where you will be rolling out the dough and dust your palms with some flour as well. Separate the dough into 3-4 balls. Take one ball of dough and flatten it with your fingers. Sprinkle a little flour on the top and flatten it with your fingers. You can either spread out the dough using your fingers or you can use a rolling pin. I found it easier to just use my fingertips to spread out the naan. Roll it to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.
Pour a teaspoon of ghee to coat the skillet. The cooking surface will be hot already so it won’t take too long for the ghee to heat. Give it 15-30 seconds and then carefully place the naan on to the pan. Cook on one side for about 1 minute or until it starts to puff up on parts of the dough and turn brown to dark brown in parts. Flip it with spatula and cook for another minute or less on the other side. Place the cooked naan on a plate to cool. Repeat the same cooking process with the rest of the dough.
Once the naan has cooled, tear it up into smaller pieces. These pieces will go into the salad.
Cooking and assembling the salad: Heat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the ribs from the bottom half of the kale (they will be tough and difficult to chew) and cut the leaves into 2 inch parts, along the length. Set the chopped kale aside in a large mixing bowl.
Cut up the carrots, leeks and break up the brocolini florets from the stems. Since you will be using the stems of the broccolini as well, chop them into a size that’s almost that of the florets. Place all the cut vegetables on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle the spices on the top, along with the the salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables using your hands and place the tray into the oven for 15-20 minutes. The vegetables should be tender but still have that crunch (taste the carrots for this). Put the vegetables in a small bowl.
To make the dressing, whisk together the olive oil and lemon zest + juice in a small glass jar. Peel the garlic and bruise it by smashing it with the back of your knife. Once it’s bruised, sprinkle a pinch of salt on the top and chop it up roughly into fine pieces. Grate the cheese into the dressing, add the chopped garlic and sprinkle pepper on the top. Whisk the new ingredients into the olive oil-lemon juice and taste for salt. Add more if required.
Assemble the salad by adding the roasted vegetables on top of the kale. Place the torn bits of naan into the salad and then pour the dressing on top. Toss well, using your hands until the kale absorbs the dressing. Let it sit for a few minutes and the serve topped with pumpkin seeds and a little more cheese. Because cheese is a wonderful thing.