I’ve written several posts about my dinner group here on the blog. From Moon Pies and Dulce de Leche Cookies to Roast Chicken with Garlic, Lemon and Parsley done the Hammersley way and Tomato-Feta & Preserved Lemon Salad, I have shared recipes and experiences with this group of women who gather periodically to explore a cuisine or a culinary theme.
I haven’t been able to attend most of our dinners this year for one reason or another which I have really missed. Thankfully, I was able to be at our last gathering when we invited Shilpi Ranjan of EZ Compliments to teach us Indian cooking! I was so excited because I truly love Indian cuisine. The colors, the flavors and the aromas are just intoxicating for me. More than that, I am fascinated by the combinations of seeds and spices that go into the Indian cuisine and how they all work together so beautifully. It’s like magic really.
The class was interactive and while Shilpi demonstrated technique and gave us hands on instruction, we were cooking the dishes alongside her throughout the evening. Shilpi couldn’t have been more personable and gracious and provided thoughtful instruction. She even provided each of us with small packages of the key spices she used in her cooking, including her homemade garam masala, to take home with us.
Here are some of the photos from the night that culminated in some visually beautiful and incredibly tasty food. This is a great way to host your friends for a “night in” and I have linked to Shilpi’s website if you’d like to invite her into your home for a class.
Now, it so happened that I am making my way through Food 52’s 2016 Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks. If you are asking yourself, what exactly is a Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks, then do click on the link to find some of the “popular” cookbooks of the past year. I had requested Made in India by Meera Sodha from the library awhile ago and it arrived around the time of our class with Shilpi. The book has gorgeous photography and what looks like accessible recipes that are largely from Meera’s mother’s kitchen and her personal travels. I decided to give 2 a try this past weekend, both of which were easy to execute and had my husband and I scooping up leftover sauce with our naan bread.
One of the dishes was a vegetable curry that I am going to tweak and make my own to share on the blog down the road. The other was for Chana Masala which is one of my personal favorites. I think that even if you aren’t a fan of chickpeas, this dish will be hard to resist. Meera calls the dish “Workers’ Curry” because it is “the dish that sustains the nation” in her words. The humble chickpea is brought to a new level of deliciousness by sharing the pot with onions, garlic, ginger, green chile, onions and a spicy tomato sauce. Naan bread is critical to soak up all the lovely tomato sauce that may be left behind. A splendid vegetarian main dish or a side dish, your choice. Canned chickpeas work just fine but you can certainly soak dried beans and use those if you prefer. They do have a superior taste for sure.
This is another “quick meal” to add to your repertoire and it fits almost any season.
Looks like I will be purchasing Made in India which, combined with the recipes we took home from Shilpi’s class will give me lots of fun dishes to test out and share in the future!
One Year Ago: Armenian Rice Pilaf
Two Years Ago: Review of Puritan & Company in Cambridge, Massachusetts
Recipe adapted every so slightly from Made in India by Meera Sodha. Chana Masala is a wonderful vegetarian main course or can be served as a side dish to almost any protein. Reheats well.
- 7 ounces dried chickpeas or 1 29-ounce can chickpeas
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 inch piece of ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
- kosher salt
- 3 Tablespoons canola oil
- 2 onions, sliced
- 1 14-ounce can of good quality plum tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- If using dried chickpeas, place them into a pan and cover them with cold water (at least double their volume). Add the baking soda and soak them for at least 6 hours. Overnight is better. Rinse, drain, then cover with more cold water and boil for 30 to 45 minutes, until soft, discarding any scum. If using canned chickpeas, drain and rinse them.
- Place the ginger, garlic and jalapeno in a pile on a cutting board. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Mince together until the consistency of a paste but still have some texture. You can also pound the ingredients in a mortar & pestle or mix in a food processor.
- Put the oil into a large frying pan on medium heat. When it's hot, add the onions and cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Don't skimp on the time, and stir frequently. When the onions have browned, add the ginger, garlic and chili paste and stir through. Tip in the tomatoes, crushing them with your other hand before they hit the pan. Add the tomato paste, stir well, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until it has become a rick, thick sauce.
- Add 1 teaspoon salt, the garam masala, cumin, chili powder and turmeric, and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the chickpeas. Check the consistency. Add around 5 more Tablespoons of water at this point to thin the sauce a little.
- Stir well and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust any seasoning as you require.
- Serve with warm naan bread or chapatis. Also can be served with brown rice.
Tips from The Kitchen Scout
I cut back the added salt in the original recipe by 1/2 teaspoon. You can add it back if you think the dish needs more. This is the time to make sure your spices are as fresh as possible for the best flavor.
This looks great. I have a question regarding the onions. I’ve cooked this from the book a few times and the onions, even while thinly sliced, dominate the dish. Did you actually slice the onions? Or, as I suspect from the pictures for Worker’s Curry in the book, did you actually dice them?
Hi Aaron, I did slice them and used smaller onions. The key is to cook them until they are caramelized so they actually take on a sweet note. Combined with the remaining ingredients, I don’t think they overpowered the dish. Perhaps you could cut back and use just one onion. Thanks for commenting!
Looks delicious! Also, thank you for taking on this dish. I am incredibly intimated by cooking Indian food. Indian food is my all time favorite cuisine on the planet. Perhaps it is time for me to try….Thank you!
I totally understand but this one is pretty simple! I hope you enjoy it, Lin.