Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chana Masala

When we lived in DC, Chad and I would love to go to our favorite Indian restaurant for their buffet brunch on Sundays. Inevitably, we’d always eat too much and complain that we couldn’t control ourselves. But, needless to say, we kept going back. It was so good; and easy for a vegetarian (me) and carnivore (him) to get our fill of a variety of dishes.

Indian food seems so complex and mysterious, but once I had a handful of spices in our cupboard to make this myself, I was content with trying my hand at Chana Masala. I finally got it right last night after many different recipes and tests. And it was delicious; especially when you plopped a heaping spoon of Raita on top. The only spice that was difficult to find for me was amchoor, which is made from unripe green mangoes that are dehydrated ground to a powder. It gives the dish a sour flavor that is usually accomplished with lemon juice. You can always use extra lemon juice if you don’t envision yourself making this, or other Indian dishes, often. But I must say that the amchoor is fabulous. I ordered mine online from Spice World.

Chana Masala

1 tablespoon coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
2 medium onions, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of ginger, grated
1 chili pepper, minced (I included the pith and seeds, because I like heat. If you are sensitive to heat, remove the pith and seeds)
1 15 oz. can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)
2 15 oz. cans of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup room temperature water
½ lemon
Spice mix (see below)

Spice mix:
1 tablespoon ground coriander
4 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 heaping tablespoon amchoor powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 heaping teaspoon garam masala

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Once you can feel heat coming up if you put your hand over the skillet, put in onions, chili pepper, ginger and garlic. Sauté until soft, but don’t brown anything; about 5 minutes. Add the spice mix and thoroughly incorporate. Saute for about 2 more minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and water. Simmer for a few minutes. Add garbanzo beans and simmer for 15 minutes. Add salt to taste and squeeze half of a lemon into skillet. Serve over basmati rice.