Last Saturday I was posed a little challenge; our friends were coming over for dinner and I had been asked to cook, so far so normal, however what I hadn’t realised was that they have lost their minds and decided to detox, shudder.
Turns out that unlike normal people they have decided not to eat wheat, meat, dairy, sugar or alcohol so basically I was left with twigs and leaves to play with. YAY!
Still I’m not one to concede defeat easily, more out of stubborn belligerence then anything else.So I scratched my head for a while and then realised I actually know an awful lot of Southern Indian recipes that have precisely zero in the way of any of the ingredients that our weirdos friends were avoiding.
So I started cooking, I decided upon Urad Dal, a little pickled cucumber and red onion salad, some flat breads made with gram flour and a personal favourite of mine Chana masala, or as my girlfriend politely refers to it Colon Surprise ( a reference to the stupidly high level of fibre in the dish).
To give you an overview of Chana masala it is a deliciously spicy chickpea and tomato curry that you can make as hot or as mild as you dare ( I give what I believe to be a relatively mild version here but personally think it benefits from being a lot hotter!).
A lot of people like this as a side dish but personally I like it by itself with just plain boiled rice and a little bit of raita.
2x 400g tins of chick peas
A tin of good chopped tomatoes
2 tsp Garam masala
1 1/2 tsp Tumeric
1 1/2 tspCumin seeds (powder is ok if you can’t get seeds)
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1 tsp black mustard seeds
2 large onions finely diced
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
2” piece of ginger peeled and grated
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tomato finely chopped
1 large handful of coriander leaves
2 red chilis finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Fry off the onions over a medium heat until they have softened, then add in the garlic, chilis and ginger, fry until all are lightly browned and softened.
Now add in your dried spices and mix well.
Fry off the spices until all of the onions, garlic etc are well coated. Now add in 1 ½ cans of the drained chickpeas and all of the tinned tomatoes.
Mash the remaining chick peas until you have a fairly thick paste, this can be added along with the lemon juice about 5 minutes after the whole chickpeas.
Simmer over a medium heat for approx 15 minutes, after this add in the chopped coriander leaves and the chopped tomatoes and simmer for another 7 – 10 minutes, if when you are adding the coriander and tomatoes the dish seems too thick add in sufficient water to loosen it.
Serve the chana masala with plain boiled rice and some coriander and as a garnish