Cooking

Southeast Asian Kitchen: Dhal

Southeast Asian Kitchen is a Tablecrafter series on cooking dishes inspired by the different regional cuisines in Southeast Asia.


The eponymous Indian lentil stew combines the richness of coconut milk and robust spices used in the region. Usually paired with the roti canai or steamed rice, its complexity shines through in every meal. Everyday ingredients coupled with intense aromatic spices combine to make the flavorful vegetarian fare. Don't let its lack of conventional protein sources let you think that this dish lacks substance. These lentils contain a respectable amount of protein for everyday fare.

Dhal

Yield: 3 cups, estimated
Time: 50 minutes (10 min prep / 40 min cooking)
 


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red lentils, picked through
  • 1 white onion, minced
  • 3 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp chili powder, optional
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1½ cups water or vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp salt

Procedure:

  1. Sauté the onions over medium heat with the vegetable oil until translucent, about four minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.
  2. Add the tomatoes and spices. Stir for three minutes.
  3. Pour in the coconut milk and water. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Cook until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Add more liquid if necessary. Serve with roti canai or white rice.

Did you enjoy our easy dhal recipe? Drop us a line on our email hello@tablecrafter.com, we'd love to know what you thought of our recipe!

Cooking

Plate This: Duck Breast with Potato Purée & Blueberry Gastrique

Plate This is a Tablecrafter series on cooking seemingly complex restaurant food that regular folks can actually do at home with available tools.


Considering all the heartwarming duck stories we were told while growing up, this bird still spooks grownups—both diners and home cooks alike.

Duck has a characteristically funkier, gamier flavor than chicken or turkey that can intimidate. Paired with its glowing red meat, it looks ready to challenge your self-worth in the kitchen.

Today's cooking project involves a simple trio: a protein (pan-fried duck), a starch (potato purée), and a sauce (blueberries & juices.) The duck acts as the main, filling, and savory element, the potato purée gives a smooth texture with a gentle flavor, and the gastrique adds a sour-sweet touch for the duck's bold flavors. We'll finish it off with a couple of garnishes for a stunning plate.

If you haven't done this before, you might have just a little bit of difficulty with the plating process, but you'll learn it with practice.

Gastrique: a classic French sauce made from reduced caramelized sugar and vinegar, occasionally with fruit.
Purée: a smooth, thick, paste from ground, mashed, or blended food.
Blueberries, smeared
Cooking oil
Zucchini, sliced thinly
Pan-fried duck breast, scored skin
Pan-fried duck breast, sliced, with salt
Orange, segmented

Duck Breast with Potato Purée & Blueberry Gastrique

Yield: 2 servings
Time: 120 minutes


Ingredients:

DUCK

  • Duck breast, skin scored
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

POTATO PUREE

  • 1 cup potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • ¼ cup cream
  • ⅓ cup butter

BLUEBERRY GASTRIQUE

  • 1 cup blueberries, rinsed
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pink peppercorns, freshly ground

ORANGE ZEST BREADCRUMBS

  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, coarse
  • ¼ cup butter
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

ZUCCHINI GARNISH

  • 1 piece zucchini, sliced lengthwise
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Procedure: Duck Breast

  1. Put the scored duck skin-side down onto a cold pan and allow the fat to render over low heat. Continue to cook for about 6 minutes, or until the skin is evenly browned.
  2. Flip the duck and cook the other side for another 3 minutes.
  3. Allow the duck to rest covered for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
  4. Slice the duck lengthwise and season with salt and pepper. Reserve for plating.

Procedure: Potato Purée

  1. Boil the potatoes in salted water until they are completely tender, about 15–20 minutes. Strain. 
  2. In a blender, add all the ingredients. Blend the mixture until it is completely smooth and free of any lumps. Adjust for seasoning and store in the refrigerator.

Procedure: Blueberry Gastrique

  1. Combine all ingredients into a saucepan.
  2. Over low-medium heat, simmer the mixture until the desired consistency is reached. It will take around 30 minutes to reduce the sauce to about half.
  3. Take note that the sauce thickens as it cools.

Procedure: Orange Zest Breadcrumbs

  1. Roughly tear up the bread into a food processor. Pulse it only a few times to maintain a coarse texture. 
  2. Over low heat, melt the butter in a wide pan. 
  3. Add the breadcrumbs and stir to coat them evenly. Cook the mixture slowly until all the moisture has evaporated and the crumbs are golden, about 10 minutes.
  4. Blot on a paper towel. Season immediately with the orange zest, salt, and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

Procedure: Zucchini

  1. Prepare a large pot of boiling water. 
  2. Thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise with either a knife or mandolin.
  3. Blanch the zucchini in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Strain.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, reserve for plating.

Procedure: Assembling the Plate

At this point, you should have completed all the procedures for the components listed above: the duck breast, potato, breadcrumbs, gastrique, orange, and zucchini.

COMPLETED COMPONENT PORTIONS

  • Duck breast, pan-fried
  • ¾ cup potato purée
  • ⅓ cup blueberry gastrique
  • 1 whole orange, segmented
  • ⅓ cup orange zest breadcrumbs

ASSEMBLING EVERYTHING TOGETHER

  1. Smear the potato purée on the plate. 
  2. Put down the seasoned pieces of duck breast.
  3. Drizzle over the blueberry gastrique.
  4. Add the breadcrumbs in small mounds.
  5. Add the orange segments. 
  6. Make the final adjustments suited to your taste.
 

If you've successfully created this dish, send us a photo to hello@tablecrafter.com or tag us on Instagram. We'd love to see your work!