Monday, June 13, 2005

Chickpeas in ginger sauce (Safaid channe)

Last night, before soaking in our newly refilled spa, my SO and I made a couple of new dishes from Sahni's Classic Indian Cooking (1980), one of which was this very tasty chickpea dish. This recipe uses canned chickpeas, which are cooked with onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and spices (of course). The dish is very easy to make, and the end result is so flavorful that you won't even notice you're eating a vegan dish. This recipe is the first of this week's end-of-the-week recipe blogging posts.

1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon garlic, minced or pressed with a garlic press
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 medium raw tomato, finely chopped, or 1/2 cup canned whole tomatoes, chopped
3 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained, reserving the liquid
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste)
Some thinly sliced raw onion, for garnish (optional)
Rice or bread to serve with the dish.

0. If you are serving the dish with rice (we used jasmine rice yesterday), start cooking the rice.
1. Heat the oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high or high heat.
2. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they turn light brown (~5 minutes).
3. Add the garlic and ginger, and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for two minutes.
4. Add the spices (coriander, cardamom, cayenne, and black pepper) and cook for a few seconds.
5. Add the chopped tomato, and cook over medium-high heat until the oil begins to separate from the tomatoes (~5 minutes).
6. Add the lemon juice, salt, and reserved liquid from the canned chickpeas. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened (to approximately egg yolk consistency), approximately 20 minutes, though the time needed may vary substantially.
7. Add the chickpeas and simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes.
8. Serve garnished with thinly sliced raw onions over cooked rice or with Indian bread.

We served this along with a savory yogurt and spinach salad (raita), which was an excellent complement to the flavors of the chickpeas.

Sahni reports that you can also use home-cooked chickpeas for this recipe; if you do, add 4 cups cooked chickpeas and 1 cup of cooking liquid in lieu of the canned chickpeas and reserved liquid, and reduce the simmering time in step 6. Sahni also suggests using 1/2 teaspoon mango powder in place of the lemon juice, adding the mango powder with the rest of the dry spices.

Different brands of canned chickpeas might have varying levels of salt, so check the salt level of the dish before adding the salt. For reference, our canned chickpeas claim to have 640 mg sodium per 1/2 cup serving (3 servings per can).

Sahni, Julie. 1980. Classic Indian Cooking. William Morrow & Co, NY. pp. 274-275

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