Month of September: “660 Curries” Recipe: Chana Masala

“Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it.” Rabindranath Tagore

660 Curries is a voluminous collection of Indian eats by Raghaven Iyer. He is an award winning teacher of the year from IACP (international association of culinary professionals) and has compiled one whopping book of appetizers, poultry, beef, lamb, pork, seafood, paneer, legume and vegetable curries. I could literally devote the entire year of grief cooking to this one book. It’s overwhelming close to a thousand pages of a multi thousands year old cuisine. A curry he explains is any dish that is covered in a sauce or gravy that is “redolent with any number of freshly ground and very fragrant spices and/or herbs.” A curry is not a spice blend made by McCormick. This cookbook was my son’s but I basically borrowed it indefinitely from him years ago and he didn’t object too much. Friday was his 34th birthday and ironically I am making this dish today to share with him. So it’s true then, in this case, that what comes around goes around.

This curry, chickpeas with a spice tomato sauce, Raghaven tells us is as common in Indian kitchens as macaroni and cheese is to kitchens all over the United States. Seemed like a sensible recipe to start with. It has been a crazy busy week at work with increased volume, decreased staff, unexpectedly losing our great tenants and just an all around rush, rush, rush. We managed to have a wonderful visit with family friends who came into town from Maryland and Oregon on Friday but other than that it is one of those times where you just can’t seem to catch your breath.

Back to beginner’s mind. Back to why I started this blog in the first place. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Hello India. The photograph below is me volunteering as a nurse in Calcutta in 2006. There I am about 250 miles from the Bangladesh border, not that far from where Abby’s second husband was born and raised. It’s strange to reflect now, that even half way around the world, our story was still connected.

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons of ghee or canola oil, 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds (1 whole and 1 ground), 2 tablespoons ginger paste, 1 tablespoon garlic paste, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon mango powder or lime juice, 1 teaspoon cayenne (I used less), 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 4 cups chickpeas, 4 tablespoons cilantro, 1.5 teaspoons coarse salt, 1/2 cup chopped red onion.

1.Heat ghee in large saucepan over medium high heat. Sprinkle in whole cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle and turn reddish brown and smell nutty about 5 to 10 seconds. Immediately lower the heat to medium and carefully stir in the ginger and garlic pastes. Stir fry until paste turns light brown about 2 minutes.

2.Stir in 1 cup water and tomato paste, coriander, mango powder or lime juice, cayenne, turmeric and ground cumin. Simmer partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the water evaporates from the reddish brown sauce about 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Pour in 2 cups of water with the chickpeas and 2 tablespoons of cilantro and salt. Raise the heat to medium high and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens, 15 to 18 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining cilantro and onion over the curry and serve with naan or rice.

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