I have tried to start this post countless times but we are currently having some trouble with our plug-ins. So before I forget, some housekeeping: if you cannot find the links to all of my social pages, please be patient they will come back. And you can find me under “The Spiced Life” at most places. I am also having some issues with Easy Recipe, the recipe SEO plug-in I was trying (and that many bloggers swear by). So if my recipes look odd, again I apologize and please just leave me a comment if anything is confusing (I don’t think anything should be, but still it has been a frustrating few days).
And now about this curry!
This curry started with the photo above. Those of you with an eye for details might notice the 2 pictures look kind of different. That is because they are different. About a month ago, I needed some canned pumpkin for the Glazed Orange Pumpkin Bundt Cake I made for BundtaMonth. The recipe called for 1 cup of canned pumpkin, with left me with extra pumpkin puree. So I decided to throw it into a weeknight curry that I whipped up with frozen chickpeas. We loved the dish and I was really looking forward to blogging about it.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I went to edit the photos. And realized I could not remember at all how I made the curry. I don’t know if native Indian cooks would be horrified by my methods, but I frequently throw in various spices according to mood and whimsy. Likewise for veggies and legumes. I think that original curry might have had split peas in it. I have a feeling there was a tomato or two. But I am not sure. It is clearly paler–maybe from the less pumpkin? Maybe no tomato paste? Maybe I added some yogurt? So at first I sadly reconciled myself to not telling you guys about this fantastic way to use up leftover canned pumpkin.
But then I realized: Why not just make another one? And so I did. And it was just as fantastic as the first–even if different in ways I cannot remember! There is a second lesson here as well, which is that pumpkin and Indian food make a really great foodie marriage, and if there is something you either want or don’t want to use that I do or do not call for, just play with it! I cooked the legumes for the second one, but if that does not work for you just use rinsed canned chickpeas and chicken or vegetable stock (and you will still have time to cook the split red lentils, I promise, which are great for thickening the curry). I also used a full can of pumpkin for this second curry–if you are using up a can of pumpkin I recommend other flavor boosters to complement the pumpkin, such as chopped tomatoes.
- 2 cups dried chickpeas
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 fat garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 t paprika, or cayenne
- 1/4 t turmeric
- 1 t salt
- 1 cup split red lentils
- 1 1/2 T grapeseed oil
- 1-3 T ghee, to taste and need
- 1 T dark mustard seeds
- 8 cloves
- 3 2-inch cinnamon sticks, I used Cassia this time
- 25-30 fresh or frozen curry leaves
- 1 T cumin seeds
- 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
- 8 fat cloves garlic, minced
- 2 T minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 t turmeric
- 1/2 t paprika, or cayenne
- 1 T ground cumin
- 1 1/2 T ground coriander
- 3 t garam masala, divided
- 3 T double strength tomato paste, or use 6 T regular strength
- 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
- 6 oz frozen spinach, I would have used full 10 oz if I had had it
- handful chopped cilantro, use as much as 1 cup
- 2 t amchur
- 1-4 T jaggery, to taste (brown sugar is acceptable sub)
- 3 T fresh lemon juice, to taste
- salt to taste
Place the dried chickpeas, turmeric, paprika (or cayenne), minced shallot and garlic in a 4 qt sauce pan. Cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil.
Let boil for 5 minutes. Skim any foam from surface. Cover and reduce to a gentle simmer. Check occasionally to make sure the chickpeas are still covered by 2 inches of water.
When the chickpeas are tender but still quite firm, add 1 teaspoon of salt and the split red lentils. Make sure the water still covers the legumes by 2 inches. Return to a boil.
When the water boils, reduce the heat once again to a gentle simmer. Let simmer for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked through and the chickpeas are even more tender.
Take the legumes off the heat and let them just sit until needed in the curry.
To make the curry, heat the grapeseed oil and ghee in a large, heavy pot, such as a Dutch oven. Add the cinnamon sticks, cloves and mustard seeds.
Cover with a lid. When the mustard seeds finish popping, add the cumin seeds and curry leaves--be careful as the curry leaves will splatter. Let roast until the mixture is fragrant and darkened. Watch carefully as cumin seeds can burn quickly.
Add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally over medium high heat, until the onions are caramelized. This will take about 20 minutes--add water if the onions start to scorch.
When they are caramelized, add the minced garlic and ginger. Let cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes.
Add the tomato paste, ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, paprika (or cayenne) and 1 teaspoon of the garam masala. Stir to roast the spices for a minute or 2. Add a splash of water if needed to prevent burning.
Add the pureed pumpkin and mix into the onion mixture. Let cook, stirring, for 1-3 minutes.
Add the cooked chickpeas and lentils with their cooking water. Scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze it. Bring to a simmer and add the spinach and cilantro. Add some salt, to taste.
Let simmer for 30-60 minutes (I have made this kind of curry quickly and I have also let it cook more slowly, for longer, when I needed to wait for other parts of the meal to be ready).
Add the amchur and 1 teaspoon of garam masala. Let simmer another 10 minutes.
Add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 T of jaggery (or brown sugar). Wait for the jaggery to dissolve and then taste for more salt, lemon juice, jaggery or garam masala. I needed a total of 3 teaspoons of garam masala (so 1 more teaspoon of garam masala), 4 T jaggery (I like things sweet).
We really enjoyed this curry with a sweet and sour chutney with dried fruit. If you do not have one, you might consider adding golden raisins or dried cherries to the curry.