My kitchen is meatless seven days a week but today many households will observe meatless Monday to focus on healthier eating habits. Vegetarians such as myself always find this pleasing as our carnivorous friends and family might just learn some new recipes they can share when we get together. Just what do vegetarians eat? Well, mostly everything, so long as it didn’t have a face and in my case, very little processed foods and no excessive sugar. Going meatless is not about sitting down to a bland meal or leaving the table with an empty tummy. It’s about opening up a whole new culinary experience.
My earliest introduction to a healthy and balanced vegetarian diet was through the Indian cooking tradition. That was over 20 years ago and I haven’t eaten meat, fish nor fowl since. I’m not popping in to preach, but just offering up ideas that will please your palate and nourish.
This brings me to my Monday selection. Beans are an important mainstay of a vegetarian diet and I think plump and tender chickpeas are the one legume that even diners who maintain they don’t like beans enjoy. Give this easy curry a try and see if you forget what you thought would be missing from your evening meal.
Chickpeas Smothered in a Tangy Tomato Gravy
- 1 1/4 cups chickpeas, soaked overnight in enough water to cover
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons ghee or oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 black cardamon pods, crushed
- 2 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon amchoor powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon [highlight]garam masala[/highlight]
- 1 teaspoon [highlight]chat masala[/highlight]
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- dash or two asafetida
- few handfuls of dried curry leaves, crushed
- 3 large tomatoes, partially seeded and finely chopped
- handful of fresh parsley, chopped
- juice from one fresh lime
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Transfer to a large pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover and cook until the chickpeas are tender – about 1 hour. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid and set aside.
Heat the ghee or oil over medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds and stir and fry until the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to splutter and pop.
Add the ginger, cardamon and chilies to the pan and stir and fry for another few minutes.
Toss in the curry leaves and ground spices, stir and add the tomatoes to the pot. Simmer for 5 – 10 minutes, until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally.
Add the chickpeas and reserved cooking liquid, reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the lime juice, some more ghee or oil, most of the parsley and season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Garnish each portion with parsley.
Serve hot with basmati rice, a vegetable dish and some [highlight]homemade chapatis[/highlight].
Yields 6 servings.