When my parents came to visit us a few months ago, we went out to an Indian restaurant in Woodbridge. Kevin and I try to make a point of finding interesting, un-chain places to eat, and love taking my parents to holes in the wall.
This place beyond qualified, thanks to its storefront location in a run down strip mall, the dim lighting, the server who had a barely rudimentary grasp of the English language (complicated by a thick accent), and enough typos in the menu to make my eye twitch. But the food, oh the food. I had an absolutely divine chickpea thing, loaded with turmeric and flavor, and maybe some sort of ridiculous heavy cream. Not spicy, but rich, and a great bite to the chickpeas. I ate my weight of it, and had the rest for lunch the next day.
The dish haunted me, and I vowed I would re-create it someday in my own kitchen. That day arrived earlier this week, when I finally decided to make a recipe I’d found on the Betty Crocker website. Now, this recipe called for curry powder, but as we are moving and I seriously don’t have the money or inclination to buy one more bottle of spices that we have to move, I improvised my own “curry powder.” Anyone who is a true connoisseur of Indian food will cry with shame, but I thought the results were delicious, and even better the next day (and the day after!). Even Kevin, a devoted eater of meat, thought it was pretty good, though he’s no fan of whole chickpeas.
Please make this. It’s not exactly what I had in Woodbridge, but I like it even better without the cream. It’s just plain yummy.
*Edit: I used fire-roasted canned tomatoes, which really add some serious yum to the whole mess. I should’ve put that in. My apologies. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.*
Chickpea Curry My Way (adapted from Betty Crocker’s Chickpea and Tomato Curry)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 onion, minced
2 cans garbanzo beans
2 cans whole tomatoes
large pinch of coriander seeds
ground red pepper
cooked white rice
Put the coriander seeds in a plastic baggie and crush with a can or rolling pin. (If you are not a loser and have a fancy-pants spice grinder, feel free to toast the seeds, and toast cumin seeds, and grind them all up together. That’s not me. I use a baggie and a can.) Heat a skillet or big, shallow sauce pan over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the oil and let it heat up. Saute the onion and garlic, adding the crushed coriander, cumin, ginger, turmeric, and red pepper. Because I didn’t measure, I can’t tell you how much I used of anything. There will be a good chance to taste and adapt in a few minutes. Just make sure it’s good and yellow by adding plenty of turmeric!
While the onion and garlic are softening and cooking down, put the tomatoes in the blender with the juices and puree them. (Whole tomatoes taste better than the diced ones, and Kevin won’t eat tomato chunks. If your friends and family eat chunks of tomato, lucky you; you can skip this step if you want, and just break them up into more manageable pieces with a fork.) Drain and rinse the garbanzos. Add tomatoes and garbanzos to the onion and garlic. Stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste it about midway through; is it spicy enough? Smokey? Do you just want more turmeric (that’s me, always)? Go ahead and add it. Curry is a personal thing, so just go with how you’re feeling today!
At the end of the simmering time, put in a good pinch of salt and a squirt of lemon juice. Taste. Maybe a tiny bit more salt. Good.
Serve over rice, maybe have some falafel on the side, or pita bread. Whatever your heart desires.