Thursday, December 29, 2011

Curried Chickpeas with Roasted Cauliflower

One of the things I love about Indian food is that its recipes are especially adept at packing a lot of harmonious flavors into a single, stunning dish. It's a akin to a song, with all its notes and harmonies; better yet a Jazz quartet--without the distinctly sour taste of ground cardamom seeds to play off the spicy sweetness of the cloves and cinnamon, the fabulously subtle nuttiness of creamy chickpeas would be woefully underrepresented. After all, when was the last time you went to see a Jazz quartet whose fourth couldn't make it?

The sweet cabbage-y flavor of roasted cauliflower is not to be overlooked either, and it pairs well with the spices, garbanzos and clarified butter (which, I promise, is way easier to make than it sounds and is actually a great way to get that butter flavor without having to worry about burning it). I love this dish because it is easy to make with ingredients from your pantry plus a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up the fresh ingredients. If you want curried chickpeas in a pinch, all you have to do is sub out the cauliflower for an extra can of chickpeas. This dish tastes best with long grain white rice, such as Jasmine. I make 2 cups for this amount of food, cooked according to package directions.

Initially, any home made curry can seem like an expensive dish to make, but once you have amassed a store of each spice you will find that they last for long periods of time and are a great way to quickly jazz up anything from meat, fish and poultry to veggies--even coffee. I once had an incredibly knowledgeable chef/foodie roommate who liked to put ground Cardamom in her turkish coffee pot when brewing her coffee; even though its main taste is a refreshing sourness, it served to mellow out the acidity in the coffee itself and was quite delicious. The dried spices you will need to assemble a garam masala are ground cumin, chili powder, coriander, cardamom, whole cloves, black peppercorns and cinnamon sticks. You will need to have fresh ginger root and garlic on hand, as well. It is well worth it to get to know the ways in which these spices work in your curries, so that you can create different proportions to compliment the different main ingredients of your dishes.

Curried Chickpeas with Roasted Cauliflower
Serves 2 - 4

For the curry:
1/2 cinnamon stick
8 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 - 2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated (roughly a thumb sized piece)
2 1/2 Tablespoons ground cumin
1 Teaspoons of chili powder (or more, if you like it beyond medium spicy)
2 garlic cloves, put through a press or minced
1/2 Teaspoon Cardamom
6 black peppercorns
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) clarified butter (melt and pour through a fine mesh sieve)
1/2 c. + 1 Tablespoon water (9 Tbl. in all)

For the roasted cauliflower:
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (enough to brush the florets all over, about 3 Teaspoons)
1 Teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
salt, to taste

Other ingredients:
1 can of tomatoes, diced (I got mine fire roasted with chilies from Trader Joe's, but anything without basil or other Italian spices is fine)
1 can of Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas), rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, julienned
3/4 c. water
1/4 c. minced coriander leaves (about 1/4 - 1/3 of a bunch)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss cauliflower in olive oil and rub with spices. Sprinkle with salt and lay out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake cauliflower for 25 minutes.
2. Melt butter and pour through sieve to clarify and remove whey. Add butter and onions to pan and cook on medium-low until translucent (about 5 or so minutes).
3. Add all curry spices and, if the onions have soaked up all the clarified butter and left you with a spice paste at the bottom of the pan, simmer in water, 3 tablespoons at a time, adding more water when it has cooked into the spices somewhat and made a gravy. Cook on medium high heat for about ten minutes.
4. Mix in chickpeas and another 3 Tablespoons of water and cook on high for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add another 2 Tablespoons of water and cook for another 4 minutes.
5. Add tomatoes, 1/4 c. water and the roast cauliflower. Cook on medium-high another 5 or so minutes to marry the flavors.
6. Toss in all but a pinch of the chopped coriander leaves, mix together and take off the heat.
7. Garnish with remaining chopped coriander leaves and serve over or with rice.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and I welcome your feedback!

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