Thursday, March 31, 2011

Brandon's Chana Masala

Just picked up a copy of Molly Wizenberg's book, A Homemade Life. She's one of my favorite food bloggers who, along with her husband Brandon (a vegetarian she met through her blog, Orangette), are living proof that omnivores and herbivores can live happily ever after in the same kitchen. Way to go guys!

So this is actually Brandon's recipe that Molly put in her book and it consistently gets rave reviews. Don't be intimidated by the ingredient list - this seriously simple and fabulously filling one-pot wonder is beyond bursting with flavor. It's even better the next day after the flavors have marinated.

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground corriander
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon garam masala (optional if you can't find it but sooo good if you can!)
3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 cup water
One 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes (crushed or diced work as well)
1 tablesppon coarsely chopped cilatnro
Pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes, or to taste
Two 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3-1/2 cup plain (soy) yogurt
Lemon wedges for serving (optional)

Pour the olive oil into a Dutch oven and carmelize the onion over medium heat. Stir occassionally but let it stew. Even a little charring is ok - the more color, the more flavorful the final result.

Reduce heat to low and add the garlic, cumin seeds, corriander, ginger, garam masala, cardamom pods and salt. Stir constantly until fragrant and toasty, about 30 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of water and stir. Scrape up the yummy brown bits from the bottom and cook until the water has evaporated completely.

Your kitchen should be smelling heavenly right about now.

Now pour in the tomatoes - if you're using the whole tomatoes, either break them apart with your hands as you add them or crush them in the pot with a masher. Raise the heat to medium and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to simmer, add cilantro and cayenne and continue to cook, stirring occassionally, until the mixture reduces a bit and begins to thicken. Add the chickpeas, stir well, and cook over low heat for another 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cook a few minutes more until it is absorbed. According to the recipe, the process of adding and cooking off water helps to concentrate the sauce's flavor and makes the chickpeas more tender. Kind of the same concept as the secret to a great risotto. Taste, and adjust the seasonings as needed.

Stir in the yogurt if you like (I used a dollop as garnish instead) or you can leave that out and serve with the lemon wedges instead. Either way, sprinkle with a pinch of garam masala and some chopped cilantro.

I found some delicious artisanal olive bread to serve it with, but any nicely toasted or crusty bread will do.

 Buon appetito!


  1. That looks so yummy! I have been craving chickpeas and this recipe sounds perfect and so simple!

  2. It is super simple! If you tried it, let me know how it went =) And next time you're craving chickpeas, try the Spicy Winter Vegetable Curry - that's also really yummy. Thanks for reading!


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