Indian food confounds me. There are so many spices that, I don't really have much experience with. With that in mind, I set out to find a good recipe with which to make Chana (Chickpea) Masala.
I tried one from Nirvana's Kitchen which was pretty tasty. It has you flavor the cooking oil with whole cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks before you start cooking which lends a subtle, but tasty Indian flavor to the dish. The very next week, Smitten Kitchen posted a chana masala recipe, and was quickly tested over at Serious Eats. Those versions both hail from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian cookbooks and so are not terribly different.
Today I did my best to put together a recipe that took the best parts from both, added some cauliflower for a little texture and and came up with something pretty good, but I think someday it could be better.
2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil or ghee
2 cinnamon sticks
5 cardamom pods
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup cauliflower, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons fresh, grated ginger (I used dried, but think fresh would be MUCH better)
1 fresh, hot green chili pepper, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (taste to make sure your hot pepper isn't too much first_
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoon garam masala
2 cups tomatoes, chopped small or 1 15-oz. can of whole tomatoes with their juices, chopped small
2/3 cup water
1 25 oz. can of chickpeas, drained (or 4 cups cooked chickpeas)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon (juiced) (or use amchoor powder which I don't have)
What to do:
- Put the oil in a large pan (I used our wok pan) and heat on low heat. And add the cloves, cinnamon and cardamom seeds and stir around. Let steep for a few minutes and then remove the spices
- Add the onions, cauliflower and jalapeno to the oil and cook on medium heat until the onions are translucent.
- Add the spices to the oil and stir. Cook about a minute and then add the tomatoes and the chickpeas.
- Cook about 15 minutes until the flavors meld. If you want to, put a dollop of plain yogurt into the mix (about 1/2 cup) while the flavors are developing for a slightly creamier consistency
- Serve with rice or whole wheat naan.