Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Chickpeas Cooked in a Moghlai-Style"

I put the title in quotes because that's the name of the recipe from the cookbook World Ve$*%&(# by Madhur Jaffrey.  Okay, okay, the title is World Vegetarian, I just felt really weird admitting that I had a cookbook with the word "vegetarian" in the title. But since we have been cooking so much veggie food lately, I figured I'd treat myself to a veggie cookbook.  Because, did I tell you, that this whole thought process conveniently coincided with a little spending spree of mine? Yipee.

Jaffrey uses dried beans for all her recipes and has instructions on soaking and cooking them, but I'm lazy and wanted to cook this in one night, so soaking overnight and cooking chickpeas for an additional 2 hours was just not in my future. I know it's more expensive to buy canned beans, but I kinda don't give a shit.

Recipe adapted from Madhur Jeffrey in aforesaid and now unmentionable book 
  • four 14 oz cans of garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 5 TBS peanut, canola or safflower oil (basically something that can stand high heat)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cardamom (the recipe calls for cardamom pods, but they didn't have that in the grocery store and hell, I was happy that they even had whole cardamom--by the way if I am talking about cardamom completely incorrectly, please keep it to yourself. I have no desire to learn.)
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • one 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 TBS ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 TBS ground coriander
  • 7 to 8 oz plain yogurt (full fat)
  • 1 plum tomato, finely chopped (it will basically be a mushy mess, which is fine because the recipe called for 5 TBS tomato puree and I wasn't bringing out the food processor for 5 TBS)
  • 2 tsp tomato paste (optional--I wanted to up the color and tomato flavor)
  • plenty of salt to taste (it will probably take more salt than you think--the original recipe calls for 2.5 tsp, which is quite a lot)
  • 1 TBS garam masala
  • 1 TBS toasted cumin seeds (put them in a skillet and heat on stove over medium heat for just a minute or two--this stuff toasts really fast.  If you don't have whole cumin seeds, just up the previous ground cumin by a few tsp)
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest (original recipe calls for amchoor powder, which I don't have, and somehow I got it in my head that amchoor powder adds tang to a dish, so I substituted lemon zest.  I know, makes total sense)
  • pinch of cayenne, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
Serves 8.

Yeah, no SHIT that's a lot of ingredients.  

Heat oil in large pot over medium high heat.  Place in bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, and cardamom.

Stir for about 30 seconds and then add the onion.

Stir the onion until brown around the edges, anywhere from 8-12 minutes. Just keep an eye out.  The below isn't the best picture, but after getting impatient at the 8 minute mark that the suckers weren't browning, I turned up the heat, illogically became less watchful, and my onions were a little more than browned around the edges.

Moving on.  Add in the ginger and garlic.

Stir for about 1 minute, then add the cumin and coriander.  Stir for just a few seconds.

Then add the yogurt, 1 TBS at a time.  Add the next TBS after each TBS is well incorporated.  The original recipe called for 1/2 cup yogurt--I used almost double that amount because yogurt usually comes in 6 to 8 oz containers.  So mine may look a little more...cottage cheese-y.

I know, appetizing, eh? Well hold on, it gets better. And your kitchen will be smelling amazing by this point.

Add in tomato and tomato paste, if using (the paste is not pictured below).  Cook for about 2 minutes.

Now add the chickpeas, salt, garam masala, lemon zest, cumin seeds, and cayenne.  Add enough water (probably a bit more than 2 cups) to barely cover the chickpeas.

Bring to boil, and then lower heat and simmer.  The original recipe says to simmer for about 15 minutes, but I would simmer it for much, much more (this may be because I didn't have bean soaking liquid to thicken everything).  I probably simmered for about 1 hour, every once in a while adding in a little more water.  But you don't have to do it for that long--30 minutes should evaporate enough water and get it to a nice stew-y consistency.

Stir in cilantro, reserving some to top with at the end.  Serve chickpeas over rice.

Ta-da!  I gotta admit, though, something was missing.  It wasn't quite soupy/saucy enough, and there was something definitely missing.  A something which makes this chickpea dish at our nearby Indian restaurant sooo good and savory.  I might try this again, but after some further research into what I'm missing.  If anyone has suggestions, please let me know.


  1. I'm not a huge chickpea fan but this looks amazing. And I'm not sure I can help with your mystery ingredient. :(

  2. butter? extra starchy water? hm. at any rate, it looks delish.

  3. A couple of tablespoons of butter added to the end will make a big difference.

  4. I think the amchoor powder might be the missing ingredient. It does add tang to the dish, but it also adds sourness. Other things you could try adding for a sour effect are tamarind (it comes in paste form or you could just use tamarind chutney from a jar) or lemon juice.

  5. thanks for all the great suggestions--i'm definitely going to put some butter in it next time.

    shab--i did put some lemon zest in it, but now i'm thinking that i should go the extra mile and get the amchoor powder or tamarind paste. thanks so much!

  6. delectable! and you know that chickpeas are the new 'in' superfood. how timely!

  7. I love allspice in a lot of dishes. Sean's not a huge fan though, but I can pile that shit on. Don't know how it would blend with the others, but that always helps me.

  8. Pug, your food posts rock my socks off! They're an online cooking class - I pay for the ingredients. Way better than anything William-Sonoma offers :) Another thing I enjoy, is that you cook all sorts of food. This dish looks delightful!

    PS - I know very little so here it goes...Maybe adding a touch of heavy cream would make it more soupy/saucy?