Monday, May 21, 2007

Spicy Chickpea Curry

Recently, friend R shared with me the magic of mole. He described that to make a mole, he mashed up various ingredients to pastes, then browned those pastes over heat to deepen the flavors. This process immediately made me think of an Indian curry recipe I make every once in a while from Neelam Batra's 1,000 Indian Recipes. I make the spicy curry sauce and simmer any variety of veggies and meats in it. In this case, cooked chickpeas and onion. The recipe does take a bit of time to cook, but I think it's absolutely worth it. Additionally, though this recipe makes a lot, this is one of those dishes which tastes even better as leftovers, so it's good to have it kicking around the fridge for a while.

You can use 3 cans of drained chickpeas for this recipe or cook your own from dried, which offer superior texture and flavor. To cook your own, soak chickpeas for at least 8 hours with water 2 inches above beans. Cook until creamy, about 30 minutes at a low boil/simmer with 1/4 t. baking soda and 1/2 t. salt.

Classic Spicy Curry Sauce
3 large cloves fresh garlic, peeled
4-6 quarter-sized slices peeled fresh ginger
1-3 fresh green chile peppers (like serrano or jalapeno), stemmed
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
3 T. neutral oil, like peanut or canola
1 T. ground coriander
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. dried fenugreek
1/2 t. paprika
1/4 t. turmeric
1 t. salt, or to taste
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
4 cups water
1/4 t. garam masala
3 T. chopped fresh cilantro

In a food processor, puree garlic, ginger, chiles, and onion to make a paste. Put in a bowl and set aside. Separately, puree the tomato.

Heat the oil in a large wok or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion mixutre, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until browned, 8-10 minutes (small beads of oil will appear on the top and sides).

Add the tomato, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until juices evaporate and drops of oil appear on the top and sides, 8-10 minutes.

Add the spices (except for the garam masala and cilantro) and the salt. Cook, stirring 2-3 minutes. Mix the yogurt in a little bit at a time, stirring constantly to keep it from curdling.

Add the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer until sauce is reduced to desired consistency 15-30 minutes. Chickpeas and sliced onion can be added when there's about 10 minutes left of cooking. Serve garnished with garam masala and cilantro.

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