25 February 2009

Back at it

Today was sunny! It's seemed like so long since New York has seen any sun... not like I can be the best of judges, as of late. And so far I've also managed not to take a nap, which is certainly a step up from the other days this week. Also, I managed to get back to the stove, and I'm making our latest favorite chickpea dish. (We seem to rotate which ones we like the best, and make it for months, and then switch the next season that it gets cold. More on that later.)

I know that chickpeas are not a sexy legume. They are lumpy. And wan. But they are kind of adorable, don't you think? They are pleasantly dimply. And so sweet! I usually pop more than a few in my mouth when they're sitting in the strainer over the sink. And when they're surrounded by a warm bath of tomatoes, onions, chile, and a touch of cream, they are absolutely irresistible. Add some warm pita or naan, and you have a match made in heaven. This may be the perfect way to welcome some sunny weather, even if it's still a little chilly.

Spicy Chickpeas with Paneer, adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

Spicy Indian Tomato Sauce

3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, minced (or 1 teaspoon powdered)
1 tablespoon fresh minced chile, to taste
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
large pinch sugar
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2 cup cream or coconut milk
3/4 cup chopped cilantro, optional

2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 block paneer cheese

1. Place butter in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the onion, garlic, ginger (if fresh), and fresh chile. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, chili powder (and ginger, if powdered), sugar, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook and stir until the spices become fragrant, a minute or two more.
2. Add the tomato and cook, stirring frequently, until they start to release some liquid, about 3 minutes. Add the cream and cilantro and keep cooking and stirring until the mixture comes to a boil.
3. Turn the heat down so that the sauce bubbles gently and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (It should be well seasoned, and pretty spicy, since when you add the chickpeas and cheese the spices dissipate quite a bit.)
4. Rinse the chickpeas in cold water, and add to the sauce.
5. Cube the paneer into smallish cubes; they should be bite-sized. Add to the chickpea and tomato sauce mixture. Mix all together, cover, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve with fresh pita or naan.

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