Monday, January 24, 2011

One Mean Chickpea Stew

Chana masala is another chickpea dish particularly popular in northern India, Pakistan, and your local Trader Joe's freezer. (Trader Joe's really is an easy and inexpensive way to introduce yourself to foreign dishes. If you don't like it, just let them know and they will give you a full refund. To a lesser extent, World Market is another great source for the exotic.)

Chickpeas – remember, aka garbanzo beans – are a fabulous source of protein for vegetarians, or anyone for that matter. I've recently discovered a certain lack of protein in my diet, thus I return to the delicious chickpea. I also had some leftover diced tomatoes and half an onion that needed to be used, and there was still a piece of garlic naan in my freezer. (Mmm... Garlic naan...)

Chana masala is a ridiculously easy dish to make, and I encourage everyone to give it a try. All you need is a can of chickpeas, some tomatoes (I used canned diced tomatoes because they store longer), diced onion, cumin, chili powder, and lemon juice. I don't ever use chili powder, so I left that one out (obviously use it for a more authentic flavor and if you like spice), and I forgot to add the lemon juice, but my chana masala was still delicious. I also found only cumin to be a bit boring, so I added dashes of garlic powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, tumeric, and the tiniest bit of curry powder. Wikipedia says that garlic and ginger are often added to the dish, and as I have said previously, cinnamon and nutmeg are my two new favorites. Tumeric and curry I threw in because I have so much of it that I doubt I can go through it all in my lifetime.

Just sautee the onion, toss in the tomatoes and spices, then let simmer for a bit before adding the chickpeas. Let everything simmer together (add water as needed so things don't burn) for about ten minutes or until you can't stand it anymore, whichever comes first. A dash of lemon juice is supposed to be added at the last minute before serving, but as I said, I forgot that part when making it myself.

The garlic naan was a beautiful addition to my lunch, which means I probably need to buy more since I still have half a skillet of chana masala leftover. Once again, the Pyrex from my brother comes in handy! (Whoot!)

I'm getting much better about remembering to use my large skillet when sauteeing, but I really need a lid to fit it. So far I have been making do with the spaghetti pot lid, which occasionally ends up floating on top of the contained concoction and tends to make a mess on the stove. Why don't lids for skillets come with pot and pan sets? This makes no sense to me. I probably cover my skillets twice as often as I cover my pots. What gives? Of course, maybe if I bought a set that wasn't on clearance at Meijer, it might include the appropriate lids. My friends with nicer cookware will have to let me know.

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