Pappadum with Lebaneh and Coriander Chutney
Pappadum are thin, round flatbreads made from lentil flour and are either baked or fried. These Indian snacks can be purchased in many specialty food shops. You can also find them in little cracker sizes, baked and ready to eat out of the bag. I like to quickly fry them in canola oil before using them. When frying for this recipe, take care not to overcook them, as they will brown a little further in the oven. Lebaneh, a mild tangy cheese made from straining yogurt, is very common in the Middle East. Many stores in the States sell it, but you can also make it easily (see sidebar).
To Make Your Own Lebaneh: Line a strainer or colander with a double thickness of cheese-cloth, and place it over a bowl. Put your favorite yogurt in the strainer and allow it to drain for 12 to 24 hours in the refrigerator. I add a little salt to my yogurt before straining it. You can also add fresh herbs or other seasonings. I like to form the cheese into little balls and marinate them in a good-quality olive oil with seasonings. Thyme, rosemary, garlic, and pepper are particularly delicious. The cheese will keep for several weeks when fully submerged in oil. Otherwise, your homemade lebaneh will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. THE CORIANDER CHUTNEY: In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Puree until smooth. Set aside for at least an hour or overnight to allow the flavors to meld. ASSEMBLING THE NACHOS: Heat the oven to 400°F. In a small bowl, combine 1⁄2 cup coriander chutney and the yogurt; set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or use an ovenproof platter). Arrange the pappadum on the baking sheet. Top with the Lebaneh, and bake for 5 minutes, until the cheese is warmed through and soft. Drizzle with the chutney-yogurt mixture and garnish with toasted cumin seeds and mint, if desired. Written by Monica Byrne Photography by Michael Harlan Turkell