A good friend of mine just e-mailed me some excellent advice about curry along with a delectable-sounding recipe. Here's her introduction.
As you all know, I love spicy food, especially curries. (Well, it's what really works for me as comfort food in the absence of good Mexican food)
We have a couple of pretty good Indian places locally, but...my very favourite dish is Kabli Chana, or curried chickpeas, and I don't like to shlep all the way to a restaurant just for a single dish. It's deceptively simple. I've been trying for years to make it and it always sorta sucks. But recently my office mate's mother (Indian) was in town for a few weeks, and she cooked all sorts of delicious homemade food (YUM) and my colleague kept bringing it into the office. Including chickpeas -- the best ever I had. We ate them three or four times while she was in town. *Dies of spicy happiness*
I can't stress this enough -- the spices must be cooked for a long time all on their own (i.e., with ghee or oil) and with a bit of tomato (usually) until it forms a paste and caramelizes a bit... or a lot.
This is why cooks often get better results from a paste as opposed to powder. When you buy a paste, that long cooking has already been done for you.
So, I got the recipe from my colleague's mom, so the measurements are pretty much not existing because Indian mommas don't need no stinkin' measurements.
- Soak the peas in hot water for 4-5 hours.
- Boil them in the [pressure] cooker for 15 minutes.
- Cut few onions, some garlic and tomatoes to small pieces.
- Fry the cut ingredients in oil till it makes a paste (reddish in colour).
- Then add some cayenne pepper, turmeric powder and if you can find, Chana Masala.
- Mix this paste till all contents are properly mixed and cooked.
- Add the boiled peas, turn the contents for a min and then add enough water.
- As the gravy starts thickening, add salt.
- Boil the Curry till you have the required consistency.
I used canned chickpeas because I have NEVER gotten the dried ones to come out right. I must be buying the wrong kind. Also, I don't have a pressure cooker here, and I know that really helps. I also bought some packet Naan bread and some plain yogurt that I made Raita with. It only took about 45 minutes total, including cooking time...and it was really good! Not as good as my colleague's mom's, but pretty damn close. I will keep working on it.
The cayenne can go from a wee pinch to a healthy spoonful -- I like it spicy so I probably used half a tsp and it was nicely hot, but not overwhelming. I used shallots instead of onion, because that's what I had. I also have garlic paste and ginger and garlic paste, and I used those instead of freshly pressing garlic. I used two normal-size tomatoes and didn't peel, seed or dejuice them at all.
My friend wishes to remain anonymous because in real life she is a superhero. Thanks, Ms. Prince! Oops...