Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chana Masala (Curried Chickpeas and Spinach)

It's still freezing. We're trapped beneath a winter inversion that keeps our valley skies gray and damp, and I can't seem to find socks thick enough to keep my feet warm. Definitely time to spice things up with a little Indian food. I had some garbanzo beans and spinach that I needed to use up, and this savory Punjabi dish was just the ticket. I don't remember where I found this recipe, but it's awesome. Serve it over rice, or be really authentic and scoop it up with chapatis.

*Note: This is a nonfat, medium-spice version. For richer and spicier options, see notes at the end.

Start to finish: 20 minutes
Yield: 2 servings (doubles, triples, etc., easily)

Chana Masala
Cooking spray
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 can garbanzo beans, with liquid
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder**
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garam masala***
1 large bunch spinach (about 2 cups)
Salt to taste
  1. In a medium saucepan or skillet, saute the onion and garlic in cooking spray until the onion is soft and beginning to brown.
  2. Add the beans in their liquid, lemon juice, and spices. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the beans are soft. (The sauce will cook down and thicken up.)
  3. Turn off the heat, add the spinach to the pan, and cover again. Let the spinach wilt (about 3 minutes).
  4. Add salt to taste. Be sure to taste it first, though -- the bean liquid makes it plenty salty enough for me.
  5. Serve over rice, on its own, with Indian bread, as a side dish... It's terrific no matter how you eat it!
*Variations: For a richer dish, use 3 tablespoons of olive oil instead of cooking spray. For a spicier dish, add cayenne pepper to taste.

**Curry powder is available in the spice section at pretty much every store, but the quality and flavor varies tremendously. I made my own by mixing 2 tablespoons of cumin, 2 tablespoons of coriander, 2 teaspoons of turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger.

***Garam masala is a North Indian spice mixture and should be available in the spice section of most grocery stores. Like most ground spices, it loses some of its flavor and aroma within a few months, so buy it in the smallest quantities possible unless you cook a lot of Indian food.

No comments:

Post a Comment