July 13, 2010

Potato Chickpea Masala

Finally, my first and only attempt at making Indian food from scratch.

I did it! And I will do it again and again because it was easy and delicious. Farewell to the days of vaccum packed baggies of Indian fare. Goodbye to the ever-bland jars of Korma sauce I would casually toss into a pot with some chickpeas... And I am sorry, Indian food, that it even took me this long to discover you in your freshest and most flavorful state. Really, I am.

Last night as the rain pelted down on our big windows and lightening flashed through the dark sky, I peeled potatoes, chopped onions, rinsed chickpeas. "Is that coconut?" M wondered out loud as the smell of toasted coconut flakes rose from the stove and filled the apartment. Pureed garlic and jalapeno peppers simmered in a thick sauce of curry powder, garam masala, cumin, turmeric...

Twenty minutes later, M and I sat down to plates heaping with Potato Chickpea Masala to be scooped up with huge, fluffy curried naan bread. The spicy, aromatic sauce had a perfectly thick consistency to coat the heaps of tender potatoes and meaty chickpeas. I was in Indian food heaven. Although it was almost embarrassing how easy the meal was to prepare, I still felt a twinge of earned pride at having crossed a personal culinary boundary.... Even if the steps are small, all about taking them in the first place. Now, if you're looking for some jars of masala sauce, I think that I have some to give away...

Potato Chickpea Masala:
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1/3 cup dried grated unsweetened coconut
2 teaspoons cumin
1 (3-inch) fresh jalapeño, coarsely chopped, including seeds
1 T. ginger
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 t. garam masala
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups water, divided
1 large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 (15-ounces) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup frozen peas (do not thaw)

Peel potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces.
Toast coconut in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and wipe out skillet.
Purée jalapeño, ginger, and garlic in a blender with curry powder, garam masala, cinnamon, turmeric, oil, 1/4 cup water, and 1 teaspoon salt until smooth. Transfer purée to skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until thickened slightly, about 1 minute. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, about 8 minutes.
Drain potatoes, then add to onion mixture with cumin seeds, chickpeas, and remaining water and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are barely tender, about 20 minutes.
Add peas and cook, covered, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in toasted coconut.
Serve with rice or naan.
recipe adapted from epicurious.com

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