Going out for dinner on Valentine’s Day is like going shopping in that last week before Christmas, except now you’re forcing someone to come with you. It’s a rather odd ritual, when you think about it. When was the last time you thought “Gee, I’d really like to share an intimate, heartwarming, candlelit meal with my significant other, 40 other couples, and a waiter?”.
Anyhow, that’s why I think a homemade meal is the best way to go. Not just any meal, though—a feast. A feast worthy of love and leftovers. And whenever I think feast, I think Indian. It’s easier than you think to whip yourself up a miniature buffet as most of the prep overlaps—use your food processor to chop up a few onions, and then to make a garlic/ginger paste. After that you pretty much just have to sauté the onions, garlic, and ginger with different spices, add some veggies/lentils/etc., top it off with broth/tomatoes/cream/coconut milk, and let simmer. Do that a few times, et voila. Feast.
Valentines Day Feast Menu
Going into this, all you’ll need done ahead of time is the bread dough for the naan. I just used the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day master recipe. I mixed up the dough the night before and had it in the fridge when I started cooking.
Start with the Spiced Basmati Rice. While it steams, chop two or three onions in your food processor. Move them to a bowl, and then process about 7 garlic cloves and an equal-ish amount of fresh peeled ginger root into a paste.
Now you’re ready to start the daal. It will need the most cooking time, so get that going on a back burner.
Once the daal is simmering, the rice is probably done. Leave it covered and remove it from the stove top. Now it’s time for the main curry. We’re going to do most of the cooking in the oven so you can ignore it for the majority of the cooking time, so make sure you use an oven safe pot (this means the lid, too!). Once you’ve sautéed everything and are at the simmer stage, cover the pot and move it into a 350ºF oven.
Now for the sweet potatoes! Chop, shallow fry, sauté, and simmer. Once you’re at the simmering stage, it’s time for the naan.
Since you’ve already made the bread dough, the naan is beautifully easy. Preheat your BBQ to medium heat. Tear off peach-sized lumps of dough (3 will probably be more than enough for two, especially with all the other food), and gently form them into circles. Rotating through the three pieces of dough (this gives the gluten time to relax, making it easier to roll out), roll out the naan until it’s about 5mm thick. Cook, one or two pieces at a time (this depends on the size of your BBQ, basting the exposed side with garlic butter, and turning once. They’ll cook quite quickly—about 2 minutes per side, depending on how hot your BBQ runs. You’ll have a few charred spots, but that’s ok.
Now all that’s left to do is re-heat the rice, which I did by dropping the heat in the oven to 200ºF after the curry had cooked through, and placing the rice (covered) in the oven.
Serve and devour! If you still want dessert after all that, I’d suggest some nice, dark chocolate. Mmmm.
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