Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chana Masala: A Delicious Indian Chickpea Curry

A classic Indian dish of chickpeas slow-simmered with onions, tomatoes and spices, Chana Masala is a delicious spicy, fragrant and comforting dish with a delicate sour citrus note that comes from amchoor powder, a dried unripe mango powder that's readily available in Indian shops, however an extra squeeze of lemon juice can be used if you can't find amchoor. Adapted from a recipe by Madhur Jaffrey, this is delicately spiced bright orange Chana Masala  is delicious topped with cooling yogurt or Cumin Seed Crème Fraîche and a drizzle of sweet-tart pomegranate molasses. Spooned over steamed rice or scooped up with naan, Chana Masala, also known as Chole Masala or Channay is one of the most popular Punjabi dishes in Pakistani and Indian cuisine.

Chana Masala
Serves 8

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 fresh hot green chili pepper, minced
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp amchoor powder
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp cumin seeds, roasted and ground
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala
15-ounce can whole tomatoes with their juices, chopped small
2/3 cup water
4 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 lemon, juiced
6-8 kari leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, ginger and pepper and sauté over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, cumin seeds, amchoor, paprika and garam masala. Cook the onion mixture with spices for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt and lemon juice. Cover and keep on low heat until ready to serve with a garnish of fresh kari leavs.

Toasted Cumin Seed Crème Fraîche
Makes 1 cup

1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 cup Greek yogurt or crème fraîche
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the cumin in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Toast until lightly golden brown. Place in spice grinder or mortar and pestle and grind until coarse. Stir it into the yogurt and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

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