Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chana Masala

See the steam rising?  Chana Masala
This is last night's dinner I've been wanting to make for a couple days. Kirsty, Kathy and I made Chana Masala, Indian Rice Pudding, and you can see the chard, rice and avocados. We also had delicious huge artichokes too, that we ate with meyer lemon juice and mayonnaise dip, and a horseradish mayo dip.

The recipe is from Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life.  She's also the author of a food blog, Orangette.  I started looking at her blog, but still need to spend time on it to comment.  I like the book though, the recipes in general are simple and the ones I've tried are tasty.  I like her writing style too.  It's a bit more sophisticated than mine I would say, but gives that personal closeness feeling.

Let's get right to the recipe, and our little adaptations.

1/4 cup olive oil (I used less, but more than I would have used intuitively.)
1 medium onion, chopped (I had a huge onion, and used half, next time, I would use it all)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced (I was out, so skipped this, yes, add next time)
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (I used 1 tsp cumin powder, then added 1 tsp cumin seeds when I found we had some, and it was not too much)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander (Didn't have, so didn't add.  I think more spices would be better, next time, add)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (I think I used 1/2 tsp)
1 teaspoon garam masala, plus more for serving (really, this is what got me going on the whole recipe)
3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed under the side of a knife (I used powder, which is a big compromise.  Cardamom is expensive, but I want to try it whole, next time.  My sister said they would just snack on it in Honduras.)
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
One 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon cilantro, coarsely chopped, and more for serving (I used fresh Italian parsley, it's what I had in the garden, and it tasted great.  I think, use what you have)
Pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes, or more to taste - I did a pinch of cayenne, which was too subtle.  I would add a big pinch next time
Two 15 ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 to 1/2 cup plain yogurt (not low fat or no fat, and it's optional) 
A few lemon wedges (optional for serving, but I would say it was a great addition) 

Serves 4

Pour the olive oil into a pan or dutch oven and warm over medium heat.  Add onions.  Molly makes a big deal about cooking down the on onions, to get them to caramelize.  Mine seemed to brown, more than anything, but I got them pretty brown, and agree, it would add a really nice sweet flavor.

Reduce heat, add garlic, cumin seeds, coriander, ginger, garam masala, cardamom, and salt.  Stir constantly until fragrant and toasty, about 30 seconds.  Molly says add 1/4 cup of water to get all the brown bits from the bottom.  I had so much oil from the beginning, I added some water, but just for the process.  Cook until the water is evaporated completely.  Pour in the juice from the can of tomatoes.  She says, just break the tomatoes with your hands.  We blended in the mixer.  I think either are fine.

Raise the heat to medium, and bring to a gentle boil, then turn it down to a simmer.  Add the cilantro and cayenne, and cook down about 5 minutes.  Finally, add the chickpeas and cook another 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add 2 tablespoons of water, and cook for another 5 minutes more.  Molly mentions the process of adding water and cooking down, concentrates the flavor and makes the chickpeas more tender (and toothsome?!?)

Finally, serve with a dollop of yogurt, or add in.  You can also skip the yogurt and squeeze lemon on top.  I did both, add yogurt and then added lemon.  Sprinkle with the garam masala and chopped cilantro.

Jib Jab
My sister is allergic to onions and garlic, so we made two batches actually.  The one in the top of the picture is with onions, and the closer one below, is without.  Essentially, the lower one, we started by cooking the spices in the olive oil.  Pretty much everything else is the same.  You can also see the chard down in front, and we served with white rice, up top.

Sorry, sissy, with onions does taste better.  I think somehow we cooked it down more too, with the adding water, reduce cycles.  I think that actually somehow sweetened the tomatoes.  Regardless, the dish is so delicious, and as much as it sounds complicated, it isn't.  Pretty much start to finish is about 45 minutes.  Give or take.

I read Molly's book, A Homemade Life, da da da, and by the end, I really enjoyed it.  The recipes start from fairly mundane, potato salad, to the last one, a chocolate cake, specifically the recipe she made for her wedding cake, 27 times or something like that, for her wedding party.  She calls it Winning Hearts and Minds Cake and its kind of how I feel about food.  It really doesn't stand alone.  To me, it's all about sharing it, who you celebrated with, who you cooked with, who you ate with, the whole experience. Where you got the recipe, the ingredients, everything. Just hanging out.  Cooking.  Brewing.  Steeping.  Simmering.  It's food, but moreso, people, friends.  Family.

My sister, gave me the book to read, because of my blog.  The Chana Masala recipe stuck out in my mind, because of the garam masala spice.  I had never heard of it, so I was curious.  I think I mentioned it to Kath, and she had some, and brought it over, so we could make it. 

Back to the Masala.  This is a great recipe to make, and have in the fridge for the next few days.  Molly says it gets even better the second day.  I can imagine.

This was my plate, with onions.  Also, I squeezed lemon on everything.
Last bit of Jib Jab
You'll likely see more use of meyer lemons in the near future.  Our tree is full, and to be honest, there's not too much I use the lemons for today, but my daughter, mom and my sis especially love them and seem to use them all the time.  So, anyways, I am on the lookout for more meyer lemon recipes.  If you have a keeper, and want to share, send it along.

Posted by Picasa

No comments:

Post a Comment