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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chana Masala

I do not like to be a creature of habit when it comes to food. I love variety in my diet. Even if I'm eating from the same region every day, I still would like some variety. Chana Masala is one of the ways I like to change up our lunches from the traditional lentils and rice. Padhu over at Padhus Kitchen has some of the best, easy-to-follow Indian recipes I've ever used. This is one of hers that we use interchangeably for both chickpeas and kidney beans. Generally, I'm too lazy to do the whole blanching and grinding of tomatoes for lunch dishes so I've adapted this one slightly.

Chana Masala
1 cup dried chana or rajma, soaked overnight
2 onions, diced
1/2 to 1 cup tomato puree, depending on how much "gravy" you want
1 green chili, sliced and seeds removed
1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
1 Tablespoon oil
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (adjust according to your tolerance for spice)
2 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon chana masala
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 bay leaf (tej patta)

Cook the chickpeas in the pressure cooker until soft. This can take up to 45 minutes, but if they are soaked it should be more like 20-30 minutes. Mix the ginger-garlic paste, chili, and onion into a paste using a mortar and pestle. Heat oil in a pan. Add the cumin seeds and bay leaf. Once the cumin seeds are blackened and stop crackling, add the paste and cook until browned. This browning is an important step not to skip. It gives so much more depth of flavor. Add the puree, masala powders, and salt. Cook the mixture on low until the oil begins to pull away from the tomatoes. Add the cooked chickpeas, 1/4 cup of water, and cook another 3-5 minutes to heat through. Add fresh coriander leaves to the top for a garnish. Serve with rice or roti.

After lots of failed attempts at cooking Indian food, Padhu's site really got me interested to try again. I have not disliked anything I made from that site so give it a try if you like Indian food.

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