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Monday, June 30, 2008

Guest post: Don't hurry the curry

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.


  1. Soak the peas in hot water for 4-5 hours.
  2. Boil them in the [pressure] cooker for 15 minutes.
  3. Cut few onions, some garlic and tomatoes to small pieces.
  4. Fry the cut ingredients in oil till it makes a paste (reddish in colour).
  5. Then add some cayenne pepper, turmeric powder and if you can find, Chana Masala.
  6. Mix this paste till all contents are properly mixed and cooked.
  7. Add the boiled peas, turn the contents for a min and then add enough water.
  8. As the gravy starts thickening, add salt.
  9. 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...





3 comments:

grace said...

Hi Andrea! Great to meet you today!! Keep in touch -- and I LOVE BIERKRAFT!! My brother lives right around the corner, which is why I'm there so much. Love those ice cream sandwiches.

--Grace

Swizzies said...

Hi Andrea!

Great curry recipe, I must try it posthaste!! :-)

Adriana Velez said...

Grace, great to meet you, too.

Sigh, those ice cream sandwiches are so hard to resist!