Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Half Woman, Half Chickpea

I have a slight over-reliance on chickpeas. In fact, I am something of a slave to the chickpea and I apportion them a rather sizeable shelf on my own little food pyramid. I am too lazy to do the whole soaking, boiling, yawn yawn yawn thing, so I use the tinned variety and putting out my recycling gets a bit embarrassing because of the sheer volume of chickpea tins. They are tasty and versatile and low fat and inexpensive - now, somebody tell me where's the flaw there, eh? As well as tucking into a big bowl of hummus at any opportunity that presents itself, I'm also fond of lashing them into a big salad. But I think that possibly my favourite way to eat chickpeas is in a chana masala. I found this recipe on the wonderful and lovely Smitten Kitchen last year and it gets a major amount of outings in my kitchen. As well as having lots of lovely chickpeas, it has tomatoes, it's vegetarian, it's madly spicy and it's inexpensive and speedy. PHEW. Oh and you can freeze it.

It is, of course, housed in The Book, where it is subjected to love and food-abuse in equal measure. I used to just read it off my laptop in my kitchen, which always made me a bit nervous, what with all the potential for spillages, so when my mother donated her old  printer it went straight in with all my other favourites.

An accompaniment that I can never resist is Indian spiced cauliflower and potatoes. Not entirely necessary, especially on a schoolnight when I really shouldn't be sitting on the sofa stuffing my face for hours, but hey it's chilly out there, I need the heat! So, before anything else happens, into the oven with some parboiled potatoes and cauliflower, tossed with sunflower oil and cumin seeds.

As here are tons of spices involved in both dishes, I take the unprecedented step of, wait for it, actually prepping and having everything all chopped and measured out and ready to crack into the pot when called for. While the veggies are doing their thing in the oven, on to the pan with 2 onions, 1 clove of garlic, 2 teaspoons of grated ginger and 1 chopped chilli.
And so to the spices. This dish introduced me to a very very delicious addition to my spice rack: amchoor powder, which adds a tangy, sour taste that will bring a whole new dimension to your curry. I have not actually seen it listed in any other recipe, so I've been meaning to go on the hunt for other opportunities to use it. Here we have 1 tablespoon ground coriander, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, 2 teaspoons cumin seeds toasted and ground (oh please, you know how lazy I am, I just chuck the seed right in there), 1 tablespoon amchoor powder, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon garam masala. Now, if you have all of those spices it's going to be a super handy, not-so-expensive dinner, but if you don't it could prove to be a little pricey. That said, if you invest in the spices they'll last you a nice while, and trust me when I say that you'll want to make this again and again.

When it goes on to the pan you get this funky kind of sticky-but powdery mix. You only cook that mixture for a couple of minutes, and then add a load of lovely tomatoes, juices and all. 

After that, your chickpeas, along with a little water, and allow it all to simmer for about ten minutes. When it is done, stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and the juice of half a lemon. 

Meanwhile, chez les caulis and spuds, it's handy to have your chopping and weighing done in advance, because they'll need to be on the go around the same time as you add the spices to the pan for the chana masala. You'll need to chop one onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 teaspoons of minced jalapenos, and 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger. On the spices side of the house we have 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Cook the chopped ingredients in a pot until they are soft and golden, add your spices and cook for a couple of minutes, and then add some water to help scrape up any spices that are stuck to the pot. Pop the roasted veggies in for five minutes.

I cannot tell you how much happiness this will bring you - go find out for yourself!

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