Thursday, July 1, 2010

Channa Masala recipe

This Indian dish is very popular in restaurants- it is also a part of a lot of street foods in Indian. A lot of my friends ask me how to make it -and usually my response is that it is quite labor intensive and they definitely need either a pressure cooker or a slow cooker. Reluctantly, I decided to test a recipe with canned chickpeas, especially since I have always made the dish with dry ones.... the reactions were less than enthusiastic. The problem with using canned chickpeas and cooking the dish without a pressure cooker is that the onion mixture leaves an unpleasant raw flavor that lingers on your palate. Besides cooking the chickpeas through, the pressure cooker softens the onion, ginger and garlic really well and the rawness of the vegetables is changed to a very mild creamy flavor. I was not sure how to achieve that without cooking the heck out of the dish! Recently a friend brought to my attention a recipe for Chana Punjabi in the New York Times.

I decided to use shallots (they have a milder flavor – and so the unpleasant raw flavor of the onions was removed) instead of onions and added roasted onions in addition. Roasted onions are onions cooked or roasted down with some flavorings and flour- I found them in Ikea of all places. They are great to use in gravies and curries- essentially where ever you want to give a slow and long cooked flavor. They really did the trick! The dry spices give the dish the depth of flavor I was looking for. I used canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh since they tend have the tangy flavor which is quite prevalent in the dish. Also, when served in restaurants or on Delhi streets, the chickpeas have almost a dark coffee color. Someone told me to add a bag of black tea to the dish while cooking- the tea leaves give it the dark color. The consistency can be adjusted by adding a lot of liquid or very little. I usually keep the consistency somewhere in the middle- especially since my husband likes to eat it with rice and I prefer naan.

* 2 can chickpeas
* 3 tablespoons extra light olive oil
* 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
* 1 half inch cinnamon stick
* 4 cloves
* 1 bay leaf
* 3 medium shallots
* 3 cloves garlic
* 2 inches ginger
* 1/3 cup roasted onions (sold in Whole Foods as well as Ikea)
* ½ cup canned chopped tomatoes
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 1 teaspoon coriander powder
* ½ teaspoon turmeric
* ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1 teaspoon garam masala
* 3 cups veggie broth
* 1 tea bag (black tea)
* ½ cup cilantro, chopped

Process shallots, garlic and ginger into a fine mixture. In a medium pan, heat the olive oil. Add the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves and bay leaf. Saute till the spices begin to sizzle. Add the shallot mixture and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the baked onions. Saute for another 3-4 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring constantly. Add the chicken broth, bring to boil and add the chickpeas. Add the salt, coriander powder, turmeric, cayenne pepper and garam masala. Add the tea bag, bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat to medium low, making sure the liquid is simmering. Cook for 20 minutes. Bring the liquid to a boil and evaporate till the dish reaches wanted consistency- mash some chickpeas and mix into the rest- this makes the dish creamier. Check for seasoning. Garnish with cilantro.


Dan Heilbrun said...

You should put some Japanese recipes up for me!

Mama Pearl said...

hmm.. I think I DO have a couple.. I really like Thai recipes.. I will look for some Japanese ones :)