If you're the kind of person who makes Chana Masala then you probably have a favorite recipe already. I understand. I've had a lot of favorite recipes, from Madhur Jaffrey to Lord Krishna to Orangette. Recently, however, I've discovered what may now be my favorite recipe of the them all. It's from Vij's Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine which comes from Vij's Restaurant in Vancouver, Canada. It's wonderfully rich, extremely easy, and very flexible. I've made it as is, and I've also added fried eggplant which was amazing.* Other worthwhile dishes in this book include the Lamb in Buttermilk Curry and the Seared Striped Bass in Sour Cream Curry, but I plan to try them all. Unfortunately the Library does not own this cookbook...yet. Rest assured, the order has been placed.
(adapted from Vij's Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine) Serves 2-3.
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions (about 2 medium)
2T. chopped garlic
1 1/2c. chopped tomatoes (I've used canned and fresh. Both work well, but my preference is the fresh).
2t. ground cumin
1 1/2t. salt
1/2t. cayenne pepper
1 can chickpeas or kidney beans, rinsed and drained.
1 to 2 cups water
Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot on medium high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until browned, about 3 more minutes. Stir in tomatoes, then add turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt and cayenne. Turn down the heat to medium and sauté, stirring regularly, until the oil separates from this Masala mixture. This means the spices are cooked through and the "stock" for your curry is made.
So that you don't waste this Masala, add the chickpeas (or kidney beans) and enough water to make a curry with a consistency you prefer. (Adding all the water will make a soupy curry.) Stir well, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes. Your basic curry is ready to eat.
*The authors also note that you can add any vegetable to this Masala, except for broccoli. "Broccoli is the one non-Indian vegetable whose flavours, in our view, don't match Indian spices. Not all Indians share this view."