Sunday, March 13, 2011

chana masala and other weekend foods

Edwin was out of town this weekend, which left me on my own. A weekend spent by myself used to mean gypsy meals over the sink (you know when you eat a bowl of cereal, and a little while later have a salad, and then some fruit, and maybe a little yogurt later on? EDW calls those gypsy meals), but now these weekends mean one thing and one thing only: spicy food!

I kicked off the weekend with my spicy chipotle pumpkin soup for lunches, and Friday night I made spicy chickpeas*, or chana masala, for dinner. I'm still previewing vegetarian Indian cookbooks from the library-- if you have a recommendation, let me know! This one is from Pure and Simple Homemade Indian Vegetarian Cuisine, and while it is a beautiful book, I'm not sure it's the one for me. Many of the recipes call for lots of ingredients I don't usually have on hand and couldn't find at the international grocery store (anyone in Asheville know where I can find mango powder?).

I love chana masala, and I was excited about making the spicy chickpea dish. I started by liquidizing my tomatoes (the book also uses ridiculous cooking terms, like liquidize. Why not just say blend or puree?). I used canned again, and then I added the tomatoes to sauteed onions, garlic, ginger, and cumin. Then I stirred in chili powder and coriander, followed by cooked chickpeas, some water, chana masala, pomegranate seed powder, and green chiles. I used jalapeños, and I only slit them, per the recipe's instructions. That mixture simmered for a while and made my kitchen smell like its usual curry, and then I sat down to eat.
This was good. It had a nice flavor, and I really enjoyed it with a scoop of rice, but it just wasn't spicy. I sent EDW a text that said "Indian was good but not too spicy. I mean, you could eat it." I wished I had diced the jalapeños for more heat, and I sprinkled a ton of cayenne pepper on my plate.
I was going to eat spicy leftovers all weekend, but since this dish is pretty mild, I decided to save some for Edwin and make spicy soba noodles instead. The last time I made spicy almond soba noodles, EDW almost died and vowed never to eat them again. I didn't blog about it at the time, but spicy almond soba noodles did not sit well with poor Edwin the next day. I loved them, though, and made some last night using peanut butter instead of almond butter. My nose was running and I was a happy girl with tingling lips.
Mittal, Vidhu. Pure and Simple Homemade Indian Vegetarian Cuisine. "Spicy Chickpeas: Chana Masala." p. 112.

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