Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Chana Masala, A Chickpea Curry

     I have never been fond of shopping, I am one of those people that like to get in, get out and get on with the rest of my day.  Sometimes though I get lucky and find myself in a place that makes shopping not only interesting, but fun as well.  One of my all time favorite shopping trips had to be to the local Indian Spice store.  Referred to the store by a friend for all of the spices I needed for a homemade curry, I certainly found myself in a spice haven.

     I bought so many little treasures in that store I had to find a special cupboard to put them all in.  I like to have them in their special place as they are very fragrant and I like to be able to grab what I need without having to rummage around all of my favorite day to day, go-to spices such as oregano (this is my fastest moving spice next to pepper and salt).  Don't get me wrong, I love all of them equally, it's just I don't make curries as often as other dishes and really, there are so many other darn things already in my cupboard, there really just wasn't enough room.  I would love to have a space stocked with all of the yummies I use when cooking like on the show, Chef at Home with Michael Smith.  I linked a random 29 second YouTube video to give you a peek into his pantry : )

     Anywho...that day, in the store, things changed for me.  It opened a whole new world to me...a world of curries, a world of exotic fragrances and delicious dinner choices.  I was even lucky enough to have the owner share two recipes with me, one for a chicken curry and the other, well...for chana masala of course, the entire reason I am typing this post : )  This happened several years ago and the recipe he shared, I scribbled it on a small scrap of paper that saw the trashcan long ago.  I have adapted it many, many times, and even last night I made it again a little different.  I threw in something I thought was slightly odd, but darn it all, I do believe it was the best I have made yet!

     Although there may be what looks like a long list of spices and ingredients, don't be scared off as I promise this will turn into one of your favorites.  When only a couple of years ago I had never in my life made a curry, I now make them, love eating them and hope sharing them with you will encourage you to give it a whirl : ) 

     One of the things that really was impressed upon me from the store owner was, 5+3.  Five basics and three add ins that he always used to make his curries.  I stick to that and of course, throw in more when and where needed depending on what I'm cooking. 

The 5
  1. Paprika
  2. Cumin Seeds
  3. Garam Masala
  4. Curry Powder
  5. Coriander seeds or Coriander powder
The 3
  1. Cinnamon Stick
  2. Clove
  3. Black Cardamom

The Cumin seeds soften as they cook

You'll remove these Cardamom pods before serving

You'll also remove the cloves before serving.  The Coriander seeds will soften while cooking, crush them with the back of a spoon.

I ran out of Cinnamon sticks and when I went shopping recently, I could only find Cinnamon bark.

Mince the Garlic and Ginger.  This powder is the Garam Masala.

I use an Indian Paprika and use a mix of Hot Curry Powder and Medium Curry Powder.

I use a pinch of Hing (Asofoetida) to help with digestion.

Everything here looks so yummy : )

I soak my canned Chickpeas in enough hot water to cover them and in the juices from the can with two tea bags.  Regular black tea is best.  You'll drain the chickpeas before adding them to your paste but be sure to save the liquid.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan and toss in your 5+3

Add in and saute until soft, your onion, garlic and ginger.  Add a small can of tomato paste and heat through for approx 5 minutes.

It will form a nice thick paste. 

Add fresh tomato/canned stewed tomato or a can of tomato soup.  Mix in about half of your reserved chickpea liquid with the drained chickpeas.  Let this mixture cook until it is the thickness you like adding your reserved liquid to it or water if needed to thin it a bit.

This is a packaged spice mix that contains a few ingredients you have already used and a few you have not.

Add the Chana Masala spice blend after the mixture is simmering and allow it to cook.  It is not vital, so if you don't have it, you can skip it and just add

I like my Chana Masala slightly thick, and although the dish is usually called a dry curry, I love a sauce I can smear into my rice and use my naan bread on.

Beer is great with curry! Yummy delicious to the last bite : )

Chana Masala Recipe

2 tablespoons of each
Curry powder
Cumin seed
Coriander powder or 10 seeds (crushed)
Garam masala

4 pieces of each
Cinnamon stick
Black cardamom pods
Black cloves

One small pinch of Hing
2 teaspoons of Chana Masala spice blend
1 teaspoon of Amchur powder (optional)

2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

2-3 tablespoons oil
1 small can of tomato paste
1 large can of stewed diced tomatoes/2 chopped fresh tomatoes or I used for the 1st time & loved it, believe it or not......a can of condensed tomato soup (the soup was my "odd" ingredient from my note above)
1 can of chickpeas
2 tea bags

Place chickpeas in a pot, add enough water to cover, approx. a cup or two.  Simmer with two tea bags, this will add a lovely dark color to the chickpeas as well as a nice flavor.

Heat oil in a pan, saute the 5+3 spices and the pinch of hing for one to two minutes until warmed and fragrant.  Add onions, ginger and garlic and cook a few minutes until onion is soft.  Add tomato paste and cook until mixed in and warmed through.  Add drained chickpeas, add your choice of tomato and about half of your reserved chickpea liquid.  Simmer 10 minutes adding reserved chickpea if needed to thin curry.  Add Chana Masala spice blend and mix in.  Add Amchur powder if using.

Simmer till ready.  When you have reached a consistency that you like, not too thick-not too thin, You can always add more reserved chickpea water or if you have used it all, add water.  The longer it simmers, the more it will thicken.  Remove the cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks and cloves before serving.

Serve over Basmati Rice

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