I said I was going to quickly try another chickpea dish with amchur–and I meant it. I loved it that much; you will definitely see more experiments with that ingredient on this blog in the future. I don’t know how to describe it other than as I did before–earthy and quite sour. Maybe umami sour? It lent a savory quality to the dish that lemon juice or vinegar alone would not have.
As a matter of fact, I love the amchur so much I decided to put it in my spice drawer (previously it had been on a pantry shelf for less used spices). After much internal wrangling, I decided to remove the Western staple but not oft used by me sage. I love sage, but as I said I don’t use it often–and when I do I am more likely to use fresh leaves. So sorry, Sage, but I needed room for my new favorite spice/herb/seasoning, Amchur.
This curry comes from one of my birthday presents–the one that Alex chose, actually, because it had a shrimp dish on the cover! I had been wanting Suvir Saran’s Indian Home Cooking ever since acquiring his American Masala (his excellent Smoky Bean Soup was previously reviewed on this blog). I am so excited about the dal dishes in this cookbook that I can promise you will see more recipes to come from Indian Home Cooking. And eventually the shrimp dish as well, or Alex might be quite disappointed in me.
The recipe on this post is twofold–it includes my recipe for how I cooked the chickpeas, and Saran’s recipe for a curry made with chickpeas. The curry can certainly be made with canned chickpeas and you will probably only experience a minimal loss of quality. However, and I cannot emphasize this enough, as a person who loves legumes but does not usually love them plain, the recipe for the chickpeas themselves is outstanding. Alex and I ate almost 2 cups of them plain while I was making the curry. They were just fabulous. So if you have the time, do try using dried chickpeas.
This recipe used several ingredients which I could not find locally (although I plan to look on my next trip into the city). I personally think the amchur was essential, but lemon and lime juice seemed to sub ok for the tamarind and anaardaana (dried ground pomegranate seeds). One thing to keep in mind when subbing citrus juices for other souring agents is to add the citrus juice later in the cooking time than what the recipe calls for, as the souring effect from citrus juices can dull with cooking. As a matter of fact, I squeezed additional lime over my serving before eating–but I like stuff really sour.
This recipe is not as complicated as it looks. I promise. Also, you might notice the different qualities of the pics–the blue bowl pics were taken with leftovers in natural light; the other pics were taken in the dark, inside.
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 t tamarind concentrate (if you do not have, like me, instead sub the juice of 2 lemons at the end of the cooking time)
3 T vegetable oil
1 heaping t cumin seeds
8 fresh or 12 frozen (I used frozen) curry leaves
2 medium onions, finely chopped
salt to taste
2 T minced ginger
1/2 t turmeric
1 heaping T amchur powder
2 t anaardaana (pomegrante seed powder), optional
1/2 t cayenne pepper or paprika
2 medium tomatoes, pureed (I used frozen from the summer)
3 cans of rinsed and drained chickpeas or the recipe below
1 1/2 t garam masala
1 1/4 t ground cumin
1 T ketchup
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced or finely chopped depending on your tolerance for raw onion (I finely chopped)
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet. Add the cumin seeds–after a few seconds, as they start to become fragrant, add the curry leaves and stand back–they will pop! Stir for about 30 seconds on medium high heat. Add the 2 finely chopped onions with a pinch fo salt. Fry, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until the onions have browned (keep a glass of water by the stove–if the onions start to tick, add a splash of water occasionally). Toward the end of the cooking time, add another pinch of salt–to taste.
When the onions have browned, add the ginger and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Add the turmeric and cayenne/paprika and cook an additional minute, stirring. Add the amchur and anaardaana (if using) and stir for another 15 seconds. Add the tomatoes and tamarind water, if using. Bring to a simmer, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 15 minutes. This is not a super sauce curry, but I did not want mine super dry either, so I added a bit more water as it simmered if it got too dry looking. Saran emphasizes in the intro to his dal chapter that water can always be added.
Add all but 1/2 cup of the chickpeas to the pan. Mash the remaining chickpeas with a potato masher. Add them as well. Also add the garam masala, cumin and ketchup. Stir in, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently, partially covered, adding water as needed, for 10 more minutes. Before serving, add the juice of lemon or lime if using and taste for salt. I used 1 lemon and 2 limes, but no tamarind and no anaardaana. Garnish with the raw onion and cilantro. We served it over rice, but I ate the leftovers without rice and preferred it that way although I doubt my kids would have.
The Spiced Life Indian Style Dried Chickpeas
Recipe by The Spiced Life
3 cups dried chickpeas (I do not bother soaking)
1 medium red onion, peeled and cut in half
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t cayenne or paprika, to heat tolerance
1 3-inch stick cinnamon (cassia)
salt to taste
Rinse and clean the dried chickpeas. Place in a large pot (I used 4 qt) and cover with cold water by 2-3 inches. Turn on the heat; add the onion, garlic, cinnamon stick, cayenne/paprika and turmeric. Bring to a boil and boil vigorously for 5 minutes. Then cover and reduce to heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer. Check every so often to make sure that the water is still covering the chickpeas by 2 inches or so. When the chickpeas are almost completely tender (this will depend on the age of your chickpeas; mine took 2-3 hours), add a hefty pinch of salt and simmer until tender. Taste and if they still taste too bland, add another pinch of salt and cook another 5 minutes. When they are ready, turn the heat off. The chickpeas will mostly settle to the bottom while the aromatics will float. Use a sieve to remove most of them while they are floating. Then drain the chickpeas and use your fingers to remove the rest of the onions, garlic and cinnamon stick (you may need to let it cool first).