A couple of folks at the farmers’ market mentioned they were enjoying following my pizza journey, but noticed I had not posted a Pie of the Week on my blog yet. Never fear: I’m still making farm to flame pizzas every week! Our internet was down for over two weeks, so I’m pre-dating this post back to when it should have been made. Rural internet: it’s slow and unreliable, but at least it’s expensive!
But, Pie of the Week #7 was another one inspired by my love of the Indian buffet… In particular, I love the various dals. For those who have yet to fall in love with Indian food, dal refers to both an ingredient and a dish. There are many of both. Dal the ingredient is a lentil or split pea, or a similar small bean. Dal the dish is a richly spiced stew made from dal the ingredient, cooked until it begins to break down. They have wonderfully rich flavors, that blend well with all of the runny sauces from the other dishes you pile on your buffet plate. And, the best way to eat them is by using naan, an Indian flatbread, as an edible shovel. What is pizza, but an already-filled flatbread shovel? So, dal pizza it is!
I was also inspired by some fresh spinach growing in the high tunnel on our farm. Being still early in the learning process of when to plant for winter harvest, it seems I planted the spinach too late, so there is only a little bit. But it’s spinach, so it still must be celebrated!
So, I wanted to try moong aur palak ki dal, yellow mung beans with fresh spinach. But, I didn’t have any yellow mung beans, so I substituted red lentils. They’re spiced with onion powder (really a substitute for asafetida powder, hard to find in a small town…), whole cumin seeds, red pepper flakes, and grated fresh garlic and ginger, which were toasted in ghee (clarified butter) before being added to the cooked beans.
The pizza was simple: neapoitan crust, a layer of the dal, spinach leaves, a good dose of red onions, and then just a few dollops of tika masala left over from last week’s pizza tika masala, to give that “cleaning all the yummies off your plate with a piece of naan” effect.
The flavor was outstanding, and it was a nice break from all the heavy dairy (not that I don’t love cheese…). This may be my favorite flavor and texture combination yet. Alas, the lentils lost a lot of their red color, so the visual isn’t the greatest. I think the mung beans would have been much more visually appealing. But definitely a winner! Even if not in exactly this form, something similar will certainly make an appearance at regular intervals!