Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Delicious Channa Masala or Chickpeas at Their Best

I just love Indian food. I might have mentioned this in past blogs. Once or twice. Maybe 20 times? Anyway, I make Indian food now and again and sometimes I get on a roll.Lucky for me, my husband also loves Indian food. Granted, I do not make it fiery hot. I love spices, in the sense of Masalas and all the great spice flavors that make Indian food so wonderful. I just leave out the majority of the chili pepper part. Otherwise my husband would not eat it at all. 
Channa Masala - Savory Chickpeas
Channa Masala - Savory Chickpeas

So a few days back, I had been surfing the web, looking for something, when I came upon the recipe for the Chicken Seekh Kebabs I wrote about a few days back. And then I came upon some new spices I hadn't heard of before. And then one thing led to another and I was printing off recipes faster than I could keep track of. As for how I end up making a recipe, that is another story. I generally look up other people's ideas on a particular dish and then cull from that what I want to do. So it was with a Pork Curry, which I will write about later. Today I want to celebrate Chickpeas. Garbanzo Beans. 

One recipe for Channa Masala has been in my recipe collection for over 15 years. I made it once and my husband decided he didn't like it. I never made it again.
Channa Masala - Savory Chickpeas
Channa Masala - Savory Chickpeas

Until a few days ago, as I was wading through a slew of delicious-sounding recipes and recognized the name of this dish. As anyone knows, each person who makes a dish, no matter how authentic, puts their own spin on it. So it is with me. I happen to have a pretty well stocked spice cabinet. I have an entire drawer full of only spices that go into Indian dishes. And then there are crossover ones, like green cardamom, for example, or mustard seeds. I have those elsewhere. But when it comes to exotic flavors, I just hunger for them, so with this dish, I ended up adding things to it that I had not before. I cannot even recall what the dish tasted like 15 years ago. All I know is that how it came out a few days ago was over the top. Mmmmmm.

Channa Masala is a wonderfully savory chickpea (garbanzo) dish that can be a vegetarian meal or a side dish, as one chooses. For me, I can do either. For the last two evenings I had only the Channa Masala with saffron rice for my dinner and I was more than happy. This is my version of Channa Masala. I used some spices that many people will not own, or possibly even have heard of. I used amchur (dried green mango powder), for a sour note instead of lemon juice. I added dried methi (dried fenugreek herb), because I saw it used in one of the many recipes I perused, and because I like the flavor. I also added Ajwain (Carom seed, which has a strong thymol component). These items can be left out, if not available. If so, do use a squeeze of lemon juice at the end of cooking.

Channa Masala

Channa Masala - Savory Chickpeas
Channa Masala - Savory Chickpeas
serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons cooking oil or ghee
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced 
1 jalapeno, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon amchur powder
1 teaspoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek herb) 
1/4 teaspoon ajwain / carom seed
2 cups water
2 cans chickpeas, well rinsed
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded, chopped
1 - 2 Indian bay leaves (tej patta)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt, to taste

 Heat the oil or ghee in a large skillet. Add the onions and slowly saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until nicely golden. Add in the garlic, ginger and jalapeno for another 5 minutes. Stir in the turmeric, Garam Masala, amchur, methi and ajwain. Cook, stirring to bring out the flavors of the spices. Add in the tomatoes, water and chickpeas and stir. Stir in the Indian Bay leaves and cilantro. Cover and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, to meld flavors. Serve with fresh cilantro sprigs to garnish. Wonderful along with saffron rice.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.