Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bengali Spiced Chickpeas, Tomatoes, and Spinach

After a bean filled Mexican food themed week, I decided to go back to my roots last night. I came across this recipe in a book I previously mentioned, Eating for IBS by Heather Van Vorous. This recipe is so tasty and quick, especially if you used frozen spinach.

Makes 4 Servings
Time: 30 minutes if you use fresh spinach, 20 minutes if you use frozen

Ingredients
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1 tsp black mustard seeds
-1/2 tsp asafoetida powder
-1 tbsp mild curry powder
-1/3 tsp ground cumin
-1/4 tsp ground coriander
-1 c chopped onion
-4 large garlic cloves, minced
-10 oz. spinach, drained and chopped fine
-8 oz. can tomato sauce
-19 oz. cooked or canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained, divided
-1 c vegetable stock
-black salt to taste

My suggestions
I used fresh spinach, which I brought to a boil, and the simmered for 5 minutes, and then drained. To save time, you could use frozen spinach that has been appropriately defrosted and chopped finely. I also recommend using a vegetable broth that has a good taste, something you would drink hot if you had a bad flu or cold. Or perhaps water would be fine. The broth I used was ok which I think affect the way I felt about the dish overall which was mediocre. But my cooking partner gave it a great review. I didn't use black salt -- don't know what it is and since I have never seen it called for in other recipes, I decided to skip it.

Preparation
In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat, add the spices, and cook, stirring until the mustard seeds pop and the spices are fragrant. (I would add the spices first, mustard seeds last so that the mustards don't splatter on you as you add the spices.) Add the onion and garlic, and saute until golden, about 5 minutes. (Not sure if you can tell the onions are golden because they are not covered with the spices which gives the onions a dark brown coating) Add the spinach, tomato sauce, and 1 cup chickpeas. In a blender, puree the remaining chickpeas with the broth. Add the pureed chickpeas to the skillet and simmer, stirring occasionally, until hot. Add black salt to taste and serve with rice.

Don't be turned off by the appearance of this dish, it's good. This is another reason why this dish was mediocre in my eyes. Great food looks as good as it tastes. Or perhaps it's just not as fun to eat what you cook when you cook a lot. I guess I'm waiting for someone to cook for me so that I can write about their cooking process for a change!

Happy Eating!

1 comment:

Shilpa said...

N,
Great blog - nice to see you're really enjoying your cooking :-) I have some comments on this recipe, so here goes:

1. Black salt is a common digestive aid and since you referred to an 'IBS Eating Guide' here, I'm not surprised it was included in the recipe (for more info: http://www.mapi.com/en/recipes/blacksalt.html). It has a unique flavour - try it out sometime!

2. Its always a good idea to add mustard/cumin/coriander seeds to the oil before adding any/all powdered spices as the sputtering of the seeds (and subsequent noise :-)) is a good indicator of the readiness/heat level of the oil - this is pretty important, especially for the next stage of adding onions/ginger/garlic. The oil should be sufficiently hot for the onions, otherwise they don't cook well. If you can't tell whether the chopped onions have been browned enough (due to the spice coating), check if they appear translucent - that means they are near-done.

3. Replace the curry powder in this recipe with garam masala' or even 'panch phoran' (Bengal's answer to a multi-spice mix). You'll taste the difference!

4. Finally, instead of veggie broth, you could have used the water in which you boiled the spinach as it would have retained a lot of the spinach flavour.

Good luck with all future endeavours!