Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Channa, with masala

Alright, first things first: Let me warn that this pan full of chickpeas with tomato and Indian spices is probably not authentic. Chana means 'chickpea' and masala means 'spice' in Hindi (I believe?) though, so technically I guess the name is still correct, right?

Reasons you should make this:
1. It's delicious. Warm, filling, spiced, also did I mention that it's Indian food?!
2. It's convenient. It doesn't take much time to cook, and you probably have a lot of the core ingredients on hand.
3. It's healthy. Chickpeas are high in protein, fiber, and nutrients, the spices and tomatoes are good for you, if you make it with brown rice it's practically virtuous. 
4. It's cheap. Cans of chickpeas and tomatoes, an onion, oil, common spices you either already have or should just buy already, c'mon. 
5. It's easy. A very tiny bit of chopping, and then just stirring. 
6.. It's perfect for a crowd that includes dietary restrictions. It's vegetarian, but...dedicated carnivores: I promise you'll like it! It's also gluten free, and can easily be dairy free (and therefore vegan).

Lazy Chana Masala

 This is my fast version for when it's getting kinda late on a weekday - there are wonderful, more complex versions of this dish out there that are definitely worth trying, but this is tasty, filling, and pretty darn quick.

2 15 oz (or one 28 oz, close enough) can chickpeas
1 15 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 onion, diced
2 tbsp garam masala - See below
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 c water

Optional but highly recommended:
Chopped cilantro, to taste
Chili of whatever kind - a jalapeno would be fine, or dried whatever works too. 
Fresh ginger, 1 or 2+ tablespoons, chopped or grated 
Lemon or lime juice, to taste, but start with a few good squeezes or a couple tablespoons.
Plain yogurt or sour cream or whatever sour plan dairy thing you like, a few dollops 
Cooked rice (I like to add a little more onion caramelized in butter, a decent amount of tumeric, maybe a tsp of coriander, and a handful of frozen peas to rice cooker for yellow rice.) or naan.

Saute onion in butter and oil in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat until at least translucent, preferably somewhat caramelized.Add chopped fresh chili here, if using. Stir in garam masala (and fresh ginger, if using) and let the spices release the oils into the cooking oil for a minute or so. Drain and rinse the goopy stuff off of chickpeas and add to the pan, along with the tomatoes and water. Crush  a few of the chickpeas to release starch and thicken the dish a little. Cook everything together for at least 5 minutes ( much longer, 30+ minutes over low heat, is best.) if your rice isn't ready or you have the time), adding more water if the skillet gets dry, stirring occasionally.  Before serving, stir in lemon juice and cilantro, if using. Serve with rice or naan, plain yogurt or sour cream to dollop on top and stir in, and more lemon juice and cilantro.

Garam Masala

Garam masala is a spice blend used frequently in Indian cooking. You can buy it pre-mixed (Penzy's has it, as does the bulk section at the Whole Foods near me) or make it yourself. It can be extremely varied, and you can tweak the amounts of any of the spices to your liking. This is a simple version that I like - and you can throw together with spices that you already have, or at least can easily obtain. If you're interested in more complex versions, a quick Google search can be very illuminating. Also, it's delicious on squash or anything else you might use sweet spices with.
Spices called for are ground, because again, this is the lazy version. Whole ones ground yourself would, of course, be way more awesome.

1 tbsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cardamom
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp paprika 


-Tumeric - also good thrown in with the rice you're going to make with any of this stuff, btw
-Star anise
-Nutmeg (in small amounts, it can overwhelm quickly - I usually add a pinch, but I'm not a huge fan of it in general)
-Amchoor powder
-A bay leaf or two

Uh, mix them together. 

A few longer-form recipes:
Smitten Kitchen - I've made this one and I liked it

Manjula's Kitchen - Vegetarian Indian food blog

1 comment:

  1. Chickpeas are the best legume ever. THey are flavorful, have a neat texture and are very filling. They're perfect for giving any dish an "eastern" feel; I'll have to try this too.