Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Indian Chickpea Spread

I have to say that I'm now mildly offended by any sort of store bought dip. Companies add so much bad stuff that you can longer taste the primary ingredients. A few weeks back, I commented on the Athenos brand hummus which tastes sweet because of high fructose corn syrup. It masks the taste of the chickpeas themselves which aren't naturally sweet.

Having made two dips this week that are both tasty and so quick and easy to whip up there's really no need to buy them. I know people get a bit intimidated but the white bean dip I wrote about a few days back is seriously a 5 minute endeavor with ingredients you most likely have in your pantry. It would take longer to go to the grocery store to buy a ready made dip, no?

Anyway, I was cruising Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites and found this aromatic and flavorful dip that I tried out on my book club last night. You won't find this in any grocery store.

Makes 2 cups
Time: 20 minutes

-1/2 c minced onions
-1 tsp canola oil
-2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed (I prefer minced)
-1 tsp ground coriander
-1/2 tsp ground cumin
-1/2 tsp garam masala
-1/8 to 1/4 tsp cayenne (I used 1/4)
-1 cup diced tomatoes
-1 1/2 c cooked chickpeas (16 ounce can)
-2 tsp fresh lime juice
-1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
-salt to taste

In a non-stick pan, saute onions in the oil on low heat for about 5 minutes, until softened. I think this step is really important that some folks over look -- a nicely sauteed onion makes a big difference in flavor. Add the garlic, coriander, cumin, garam masala, and cayenne and saute for another minute, stirring constantly to prevent sticking (and burning). Stir in the tomatoes, cover, and gently simmer for about 5 minutes.

While this is going on, drain the chickpeas, reserving the liquid. In a food processor, grind the chickpeas with just enough reserved liquid to make a smooth puree. Stir in the puree into the simmering tomato mixture, add the lime juice and cilantro, and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes. Salt to taste.

Serve hot or cold. I served this with crackers, tortilla chips, and baby carrots.

I used 1/4 tsp cayenne and when the spread is hot, you can feel the heat more but not in bad overwhelming way. When the dip cools down, it's much more tempered but the cayenne still makes itself known. I cheated and used canned diced tomatoes (salted) because tomatoes are not in season. Plus, canned tomatoes provide the necessary juices for good simmering that store bought tomatoes sometimes lack.

By the time I realized I didn't have a good shot of the dip, it was all gone! The picture does not do it justice.

This dip is addicting.

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