November 8, 2010
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This tasty chickpea curry, also known as chana masala or chana dal, is popular in northern India where it is often sold by street vendors and eaten with fried bread called bhature. It is also very good served simply over basmati rice as a vegetarian entrée or as an accompaniment to other Indian dishes.
While I used dried chickpeas cooked in a pressure cooker as is commonly done in India, canned chickpeas work just fine as well. Simply skip the first part of the recipe. If you do not have a pressure cooker and want to start with dried chickpeas allow for double the cooking time.
- 6 ounces dried chickpeas
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ tsp. turmeric
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 medium onions, 1 coarsely chopped and 1 sliced
- 3 small tomatoes, canned are fine
- 3 cloves fresh garlic or 1 Tbsp. garlic paste
- 2 tsp. grated ginger or ginger paste
- 1 Tbsp. oil
- 5 cloves
- 4 green cardamoms
- 5 black peppercorns
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- ½ tsp. Indian red chili powder or to taste (do not use Mexican-style chili powder)
- 1 tsp. garam masala
- Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
Rinse the chickpeas and put into the pressure cooker along with 4 cups of water. Add 1 bay leaf and a good grind of black pepper. Cook at 15 psi for 45 minutes. Cool and open the pressure cooker according to manufacturer’s instructions and drain the chickpeas, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard the bay leaf.
Place the chopped onions, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger in a food processor or blender and reduce to a smooth paste adding a bit of water if needed. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed pan over medium heat. Fry the remaining bay leaf, cloves, cardamom, and peppercorns for about 30 seconds. Add the sliced onion and fry until light golden, about 8 minutes. Add the onion-tomato paste and fry till the oil begins to separate from the paste, another 5 minutes or so. Sprinkle on the coriander, cumin, chili powder, turmeric, and garam masala powders and fry for 5 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and darkened somewhat. Do not rush this stage of preparation because getting the base well concentrated is the key to a good curry.
Mix in the chickpeas and cooking liquid to cover. If using canned chickpeas discard the liquid in the can and use fresh water. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes or until the liquid has thickened. Season with salt to taste.
Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with Indian breads or rice.