Flavors at Home: Naan for The First Time, Working Tuna Melt and Marinated Chicken Legs with Crispy Skin

Roasted potatoes, lamb keema, roasted carrots perfectly complement naan.  (Urmila Ramakrishnan / KQED )

In light of the shelter-in-place order, many of us have resorted to cooking at home, revisiting old recipes and getting creative with our pantries. Instead of our usual Flavors Worth Finding column with recommendations from restaurants, KQED staffers are sharing the meals they’ve been making at home to find some comfort and grounding during uncertain times.

Naan for the First Time

For me, naan was always something that I bought frozen or ordered at a restaurant. I didn't really grow up eating from scratch. It always felt too cumbersome and daunting a task. To be completely honest, I didn't know the first thing about making the bread. It always felt easier to get it from the local Indian store.

But during these times, I haven't been able to go, which means getting creative. So this week for dinner, I decided to make it spontaneously to go with a lamb keema I made for dinner. I used a recipe from Nik Sharma's cookbook Season with a few rules bent. Instead of waiting four hours for the dough to rise, I pre-heated my oven for some roasted potatoes and let the dough sit on top of my stove.

Our apartment gets pretty drafty, so the warm oven helps with rising. Was it worth it? 1000 times yes. I ended up with pillowy, restaurant-style naan, and though it seemed so extra, it was the perfect complement for dinner. –Urmila Ramakrishnan, KQED Food Editor

Working Tuna Melt

Tuna melt
The perfect tuna melt is achievable with a few simple ingredients. (Pendarvis Harshaw / KQED)

I love a good tuna melt, but the thing is: when you eat them, you smell like tuna. Well, the beauty of being confined to the close quarters of my apartment is— I can enjoy my tuna in peace, you smell me? So, I’ve been working on my tuna melt game, practicing just about once a week.

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I think I finally got it down this week. I made a quality sandwich while on a Zoom call with my team. The next step is making one while wearing a blindfold. The recipe? Two cans of tuna, two spoons of mayo, just a little diced red onion and one chopped up piece of celery. I mix that in an oversized bowl, adding touches of black pepper, onion powder, garlic salt and Italian seasoning. Oh, and a little pickle juice.

Sometimes I jump straight in with a Ritz cracker and taste the creation. But today, I grabbed wheat bread, two types of cheese (gouda and provolone) and went straight into sandwich-making mode. I combine a little avocado oil and a small piece of butter, put the burner on 3 and let the slow cooking magic begin. The secret to melting the cheese before the bread burns is using a pan with a top. I periodically flip the sandwich a few times to make sure it’s done. And then, I throw it on a plate and take bites off-screen while simultaneously taking meeting notes. Two jobs well done. –Pendarvis Harshaw, KQED Arts columnist and Rightnowish host

Marinated Chicken Legs with Crispy Skin

Marinated Chicken Legs with Crispy Skin
Sometimes not having an ingredient at the grocery store inspires something new. (Nastia Voynovskaya / KQED)

I was a vegetarian for 13 years and, prior to sheltering in place, I rarely cooked at home. And I certainly didn’t cook any meats more complicated than shrimp or chicken breast. But after weeks without dining at restaurants, I began to crave something fattier than my typical stir-fries, salads and pastas. Berkeley Bowl happened to be out of chicken breasts the day I went, so I decided to be brave and get legs instead.

After consulting a few online recipes and trusted friends, I decided that this was a relatively uncomplicated pursuit and it was OK to freestyle. I put two chicken legs in a plastic bag and doused them with soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, pepper, chopped onions, garlic and some lemon slices. I let them sit overnight. Then, I put them in the oven for about an hour and 15 minutes at 425 F. A few times during the baking process, I checked on them and scooped some oil, fat and sauce that dripped to the sides onto the top of the skin so it would stay juicy. The meat turned out succulent, falling off the bone, with the skin still crispy. I served it with a side of baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli and quinoa, which I cooked with the left-over marinade. It’s an easy, healthy and filling dinner that I’ll surely make again. –Nastia Voynovskaya, associate editor