This is a silly picture to share probably, but 4 burners with gorgeous stainless steel pots bubbling away (and room for all 4, despite 3 being pretty big) made me quite happy.
First of all I am really, really full. Stuff your seams and regret it later full. Second I had the bright idea that I should try to put together and fly a somewhat sophisticated kite with my kids today–gusts must have at least been in the 30-40 mph range (that’s quite windy if you are overseas), and I have never flown a kite before–even as a spectator. But you see my kids own and love and therefore have seen repeatedly Mary Poppins, where flying a kite epitomizes what loving, happy families do together. That and they get to sing “Leeeeet’s GO FLY a KITE!”
We only lost it in a tree once, and luckily the wind was blowing so hard we did eventually get it down with minimal damage. And I only almost strangled Sammy once with flying out of control kite string. And I never lost a kid who tried to hold the string, which in that wind I consider a big accomplishment. We did get it aloft (where it stayed aloft, I mean) 3 times, once with significant height. The biggest problem was that I was trying to stay out of the significant wet/muddy spots in our yard, which meant I did not get out in the open as much as I needed to–hence the tree fiasco. But it was fun and now I am whupped.
Anyway about this meal. The idea for this meal started a long time ago when I received my first free product to try as a Featured Publisher-and I promise you will not only be reading free product reviews on here, it is totally coincidental that this and that pasta are being posted so close together. Truthfully I have been staring at those adorable bottles of pomegranate juice in my fridge for over a month now. Anyway, I know I am courting incoherence in my fatigue so let me start over…
POM pomegranate juice sent me 8 8-oz bottles of pomegranate juice a while back. I knew I wanted to make something savory with them, especially because I personally find pomegranate juice to have a bit of a bitter edge, but I love cooking with it. However, most of the traditional (pomegranate juice is used in Persian and Afghani cooking and that is what I was thinking) recipes I found included pomegranate seeds, and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to bother with that. So I just kind of sat on it. Then, yesterday, I was thinking about that amazing Indian dish I make with pomegranate juice (but did not want to repeat) and suddenly it occurred to me, boy pomegranate juice would go well with chickpeas. Kind of like Kandahari Chicken Curry meets Chana Masala. So I twisted and tweaked and basically made up my own recipe for a chickpea curry with pomegranate juice.
After making the sauce, I thought both potatoes and chickpeas sounded good, so on a whim I made a potato with panch phoron side dish–but next time I would do 2 things differently. First, I should have used more asparagus and less potatoes, because the meal got pretty starchy. Second, this was my first time sauteing asparagus–next time I would add it later, as it got way too cooked. Speaking of things to do differently, I used red lentils in the chickpea curry because I waited too long to cook yellow split peas, but really the split peas (or toovar dal) would have been much preferable since red lentils cook into mush and this sauce was already thick enough.
2 T ghee
2 large onions, thinly sliced
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 t cumin seeds
1 t kalonji seeds (AKA nigella seeds, black onion seeds)
1 1/2 t sweet paprika (use some cayenne or entirely cayenne to heat tolerance)
1 1/2 t ground coriander
1 T ground cumin
3 cups pomegranate juice (24 oz)
1 15-oz can whole or chopped tomatoes (squeeze the whole ones)
1/4 cup nut butter of choice (I was out of cashew, my first choice, so used peanut butter)
2 t garam masala
2 T heavy cream
6 T whole fat plain yogurt
juice of one lemon
1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, cooked
6 T dried yellow split peas, cooked
I used my fabulous new 6 qt extra wide but extra deep All Clad pan (the one that came with a fry basket) for this dish. A big dutch oven would work as well. I like the width for browning the onions–you don’t want them to steam–but you are making a sauce as well, so make sure your pan is wide but deep.
Heat your pan up on high heat. When it is hot, add the ghee and let it melt. Add the cumin seeds and kalonji seeds and let them fry until aromatic, about 30 seconds. When it is hot, add the onions and salt them. Caramelize them until deep brown–10-20 minutes. Stir them frequently to prevent scorching, and toward the end add water as needed to deglaze the pan and keep the onions from burning. (If you are using an enameled cast iron pan you may need to reduce the heat a bit.) Add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes, still stirring. Add the ground cumin, coriander and paprika and cook an additional minute, still stirring.
Add the tomatoes and the pomegranate juice, bringing to a brisk boil. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any stuck bits. Reduce heat to maintain a brisk simmer and leave to reduce by half, about 30 minutes (although it could take longer), stirring occasionally and watching the heat so that it is does not boil so hard that the onions might stick and burn. When it is reduced add the nut butter and let it keep simmering.
Whisk the cream and yogurt together. Add the chickpeas, split peas and cream-yogurt mix to the pan, mixing in. Let it continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the garam masala and lemon juice, starting out with half of a lemon, and taste for salt and additional lemon juice. Serve with basmati rice.