Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Chana Masala

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.

Simple Masala
(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).
1/2t. turmeric
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."


Meryl said...

Hi Rebecca,
I've been reading your blog ever since Heidi mentioned it a few weeks ago. I love it! You always post from cookbooks I am unfamiliar with - of course, as soon as I read your post I have to add to my wish list :-)

Deborah Dowd said...

I am just starting to cook Indian food myself, and I am always looking for a dish that looks do-able for a novice. Thanks for this recipe!

Rebecca Federman said...

Deborah, I highly recommend Madhur Jaffrey's book if you're interested in learning more about Indian cooking. I've also heard great things about Julie Sahni.

Meryl, I just can't wait to get back to Vancouver to eat at Vij's!

Doris said...

The instructions mention coriander, but it is not listed in the ingredients list. How much should be added, and is it ground coriander?

Thanks...and great blog.

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