Thursday, March 12, 2009

Super Cheap and Ridiculously Tasty

I have a short story about this dish. A few years ago, the first time we went to a vegetarian, Indian restaurant, I said, "We may need to stop at McDonald's afterwards so I can get something to eat." I was skeptical! Being as picky as I am, I figured I would eat some bread and rice and call it a day. WELL...I couldn't have been more wrong. The food was amazing, we had a great time and I left thinking I wouldn't eat for days! Go Udupi!!!

This recipe is a bit of a recreation of the first thing I ate at Udupi. Channa Masala is highly seasoned chickpeas. YUM. Again, I think canned chickpeas by themselves are skeevy...gross...and they stink! But when mixed with garlic and tahini for hummus or with a variety of spices and curries...NICE!

This recipe is from Serious Eats. So let's get started!

Start with onions and butter. Cook until the onions just start to brown.

Add garlic and a variety of spices.

Stir in tomatoes.

Add some water to simmer and a further addition of spices.

Simmer for about ten minutes, until the liquid thickens and reduces.

Garnish with cilantro and serve on a fragrant rice; such as Jasmine or Basmati.

Channa Masala
serves 2

Adapted from Serious Eats

1 TB butter
1/2 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 TB ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
6 TB canned diced tomatoes and their juice (about half a 14 oz can)
1/2 cup water
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
Juice of 1/4 lemon (fresh only and necessary!)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 TB chopped cilantro

Toss butter in a skillet or pot over medium heat. When melted, add the onions and cook until soft and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne and tumeric. Stir until combined and cook for 30 seconds or so, or until it is very fragrant. NOTE: Tumeric can stain your cooking utensils. I have a spatula and wooden spoon that I use every time I make a curry based dish and they are stained flourescent yellow! So don't use anything you don't want to stain. Also, if you have pale or white colored kitchen counters, becareful, it can stain them as well. Nothing a little kitchen scrubber with bleach can't get out.

Stir in the tomatoes and cook for about two minutes.

Add the chickpeas and pour in the water. Stir until combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the paprika, garam masala, salt and lemon juice. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for another 5 minutes. NOTE: Of all the additions to the dish, I found the lemon to be the most exciting and vital. The citric acid in the juice pops in front and brightens the other flavors. Don't skip this ingredient if you can at all help it.

Stir in the ginger and half of the chopped cilantro. Cook for another 30 seconds. Season with additional salt if necessary. Serve over Basmati or Jasmine rice.

This was really satisying. The original recipe was really spicy, so I toned it down here. The recipe called for 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper and half of a jalapeno. I like heat, but this was starting to be distracting, so I removed the jalapeno and cut back on the cayenne. Adjust as you see fit.

The recipe uses butter, which is fairly commen and pretty authentic to Indian cooking; although they would probably use ghee, a clarified butter. If you don't want to use butter, or don't have any butter, I would go with a plain vegetable oil. I personally feel an olive oil would be too flavorful and could alter the final dishes flavor.

Also, I doubled the recipe. We got two large meals out of it for dinner and two smaller, lunch-sized portions. I will be having mine today, so we'll see how that goes!



Dancer in DC said...

This is so delicious and filling, I can hardly stand it!

My vegan co-worker, who to took a bite despite the butter, heartily approves.

What an easy and delicious meal for the weight-conscious, budget-conscious, and veggie-conscious folks out there! (That's basically everyone, right?)

ScottE. said...

I just had my leftovers for lunch. The spice level seemed to mellow itself out. The only downside, the chickpeas and rice absorbed all the liquid, so it was a tad dry. But still very tasty and filling.

Ed Terry said...

I hope you have a chance to visit Woodlands, which is on the otherside of New Hampshire Avenue from Udupi. I love Udupi, but somethimes the visit to the equally high-quality Udupi is a nice change. Woodlands is more northern Indian vegetarian menu. Another great stop is the India Gate restaurant in Laurel.

gaga said...

That does look ridiculously tasty, yum!