Saturday, January 13, 2007

January 11, 2007: Spiced chickpeas with stir-fried sweetcorn

Having slacked off for the best part of a week, I made Thursday night's dinner my responsibility. Having spent a few days eating nothing but pizza, I decided to put together an Indian feast. This was particularly appropriate given Emma and Simon were among a tiny minority of our friends who hadn't sampled my favourite Indian recipe: spiced chickpeas. The recipe is from a cooking course Cindy and I did at Mondo Organics. I think I must have been respecting recipe copyright when that earlier post went up, something I will rectify later in the post. As much as I love the spiced chickpeas, it's become something of a rule in our house that dinner requires at least one vegetable (and tomato paste isn't quite good enough). Thus, we tend to dig up a fairly simple veg-heavy Indian dish to accompany the chickpeas and make us feel vaguely healthy. This time, it was stir-fried sweetcorn with peppers and spring onions from Mridula Baljekar's 'Low Fat Indian Vegetarian Cookbook'.

As well as providing us with our nightly vegies, the corn stir-fry added vibrant colour to a meal that is otherwise pretty monochrome. Even better, it tasted good. The chilli powder added a nice kick to the fresh corn and capsicum and the coriander and lemon-juice gave it a gentle tang that complemented the chickpeas perfectly. The chickpeas were, as usual, the star of the show - the $130 that Cindy spent on the Mondo cooking course for the two of us has been paid back with interest for this recipe alone. Delicious fresh from the saucepan on warm chapatti, at room-temperature the next day for lunch, or rolled up in pastry and cooked as makeshift samosas.

Spiced Chickpeas
3 tablespoons ghee
3 cups cooked chickpeas
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped coriander
1 teaspoon asafetida powder
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon garam masala
2-3 tablespoons lila masala (see below)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the ghee in a medium sized saucepan. Once it's hot, add the mustard seeds and stir them about a bit until they start popping. Sprinkle in the asafetida powder and add in the lila masala. Cook for about three minutes, stirring constantly. Add in the tomato paste and cook for another few minutes, before adding in the rest of the ingredients. If the mixture is a bit dry, stir through a half-cup of water. The chickpea mix can sit happily over low heat while you make any accompaniments.

Lila Masala
1 bulb garlic cloves (peeled)
4 green chillies
1 bunch mint
1 tsp salt
1 stem of ginger
2 bunches coriander
Juice of one lemon

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz until everything is combined. Add a little olive oil and whizz it some more.

This makes around 1 1/2 cups of the spice mix, which is more than you need for the chickpeas. We've frozen the leftovers for later use and noticed no ill effects.

Stir-fried sweetcorn with peppers and spring onions
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 bunch spring onions, chopped (I used shallots, which I don't think are the same thing. Close enough I suppose.)
1 large red capsicum, diced
1 large green capsicum, diced
2 cups corn kernels (it's a pain, but I recommend using fresh corn rather than frozen)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 tablespoon chapatti flour (atta)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1/2 cup warm water
salt to taste

Fry the cumin seeds in the oil until they start to pop. Add in the spring onions and cook for about five minutes. Add in the capsicum and stir-fry for another few minutes, before adding in the corn, chilli powder and turmeric. Add the salt and then pour in the warm water. Sprinkle the chapatti flour over the vegetables and stir through, thickening the water and spices up into a saucy consistency. Cook for another minute or two and, just before you're ready to serve it up, stir through the lemon juice and coriander.

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