Saturday, September 7, 2013

Creamy Curried Chickpeas

The last traces of summer are upon us. We visit a little park on Boston's North Shore, sitting by a lighthouse. watching sailboats drifting on a sapphire sea. The bright blue sky mirrors the gemstone-colored ocean. White clouds are carried by the wind.

Whether it be spring, summer, fall or winter I crave curried chickpeas, also called chana masala. Chickpeas are my favorite bean. I eat them every week, sometimes daily, in hummus, soups, stews and salads. Pairing them with a light, and creamy curry-infused sauce is especially good. Eating this dish during the autumn and winter months is just the thing, providing me with slow-burning energy and warmth. Homemade chapati, store-bought naan or basmati rice pair nicely with it. A splash of lime juice finishes the curry with freshness.


Creamy Curried Chickpea Recipe

Some Notes:

This is an economical, one pot meal that takes under 30 minutes to cook. You don't even need a large pot, a small one will do. If you pair it with some store bought naan or chapati, you've got a complete meal that will please you at the end of a busy workday. You can also opt to serve it with basmati rice for a complete protein.

If you love curried chickpeas as much as I do, it's worth investing in a bag of garbanzo bean flour. I find it in the regular supermarket. Bob's Red Mill is my favorite brand. Mixing this flour with equal parts cold water can thicken most bean curries and stews. I used it here to give the sauce the creamy texture we all crave in heavier, butter-laced curries. Butter is added to this recipe, but sparingly. You don't have to use the garbanzo bean and water mixture to thicken this curry. But I think the texture is greatly improved by adding it. The more you add, the thicker it will be. Watery curries will be a thing of the past if you follow my suggestion.

If you want to make it vegan, use a pinch of sugar instead of honey. Omit the butter, saute in oil and stir in some coconut cream from the top of the can of coconut milk at the end of cooking.

Turmeric is added to this recipe for the color and health benefits, but you could leave it out with good results.

The entire meal is lower in fat than most traditional restaurant chickpea curries that rely on lots of ghee (clarified butter) for taste and texture. It's loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

A splash of lime or lemon at the end gives it vitality.

Make a double batch and just reheat for workweek lunches.

Serves 2-3 with a side of rice, naan or chapati

You'll Need:
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 of a small chili pepper, diced (optional). I used a red Thai bird pepper.
  • 1 15-16 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric (optional, see notes)
  • A small drizzle of honey, a tiny drizzle is all that is needed to balance the spice.
  • 1/3 cup of tomato sauce
  • 1-1 1/2 cups of water, depending on how much liquid you like in your curry.
  • Butter and/or neutral tasting oil for cooking the onions
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon of garbanzo bean flour mixed with equal parts cold water to thicken the sauce. Start with this amount and add more to suite your taste. (see notes)
  • To Serve: cilantro, slivered scallions, more lime wedges, rice, chapati, naan, Greek yogurt, toasted almonds or My Father's Favorite Tomato, Cucumber & Mint Salad  

The Rundown:

In a small pot, saute the onion and chili pepper in a little bit of butter and/or oil with a pinch of salt until golden brown and soft. Stir in the spices and toast them for a few seconds until they're fragrant. Add the chickpeas, tomato sauce, honey and water. Adjust the salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 15-20 minutes. Mash some of the cooked chickpeas in the pot with the back of a spoon to thicken the sauce. Stir in the garbanzo bean flour and water mixture to thicken it more if you wish. If you want to be a little decadent, stir in a pat of butter or a bit of coconut cream from a can of coconut milk. Add a couple of squeezes of fresh lime juice. Serve and Enjoy!  

Love chickpeas? You may also like:

Light As Air Chickpea & Zucchini Fritters

Lemony Chickpea Salad with Fresh Mint & Feta

Moroccan Chickpea Tagine

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