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Posts Tagged ‘chickpeas’

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The flavors of a good curry will always be an experience that I seek fervently. I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older that more complex flavors in my mouth are highly desirable, and even a basic curry recipe can be so loaded with ample taste that it’s like fireworks on the tongue. A really good curry, as I have gathered from reading through some of my Indian cookbooks, is a process; it takes time to develop and gets better as it sits. In fact, Julie Sahni’s ‘Classic Indian Cookbook’ is full of recipes that simmer and bubble slowly over hours, and then goes on to say something to the extent of “Cover your pot and allow to sit for two hours or more, preferably overnight to create a deeper flavor.”Whoa now.

My love for a good curry dish is too high, too frenetic and too enthusiastic to consider making something such as Julie’s amazing dishes, then forcing myself, with a household of warming spices permeating every surface, to put aside the final product and WAIT to eat it. I may have patience for many things in life, such as a good loaf of bread, Spring to follow Winter and the ending of a long and complicated novel, but curry indulgence is not something I can set in the fridge, ignore and go about my business. When that baby is done and ready, I want to dig in. I want to indulge, feel the play in my mouth and the warmth filling every corner of my stomach and soul. Maybe in another life I was born to a land of coriander and ginger, soothed with the brightness of turmeric and weaned on cumin. How else would I have such a cuisine so infused in my blood? I’m a white girl with blue eyes, but place the aromatic Indian spices in front of me and I turn golden like a cheetah, speeding to pounce in delight on my meal.

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A quick fix is always a good thing among the tried and true, slow creations hidden in the pages of any Indian cookbook. This recipe for highly pungent -and fast cooked- Curried Chickpeas has the warm spices of those stalwarts without the long waiting period. Now I could have used dried chickpeas for a slight flavor edge but in a pinch, for this eager mouth to devour, the canned are a perfect choice. It was barely 15 minutes from start to finish, and a steaming aromatic bowl of tiny, golden infused orbs sat on my counter. One bite and they ‘POW’d and ‘ZING’d their way to every one of my taste buds, delighting me and easing the need for some kind of spicy fury on my fork. Not overwhelming, and certainly not one to make my eyebrows sweat -a sure sign of potent heat- but again with the subtle means of infusing curry to the deepest layer of my skin. And fast. With a deep breath of relief, I was soothed once again.

Curried Chickpeas
From The Los Angeles Times, 10/21/09

1 medium onion, diced
1 t. turmeric
1 t. coriander seed
1 t. cumin seed
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
2 15-oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 T. chopped cilantro (more to taste)
1 T. each fresh squeezed lemon juice and zest (lime would work fine, in fact I think it might be better)

With a mortar and pestle, or a spice grinder, crush the coriander and cumin seed into coarse powder.

In a saute pan, heat oil of choice and add onions over medium-high heat. Saute onion until deep golden brown and crispy, about 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the turmeric, coriander, cumin and cayenne. Cook, stirring frequently until aromatic and toasted, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, cilantro and lemon juice. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Remove from heat and taste. Season with salt if desired. Allow to cool, transfer to a container and chill prior to serving. Adjust lemon juice and seasoning if you wish.

KATE’S NOTES:
I like the fresh flavors of using whole coriander and cumin seed in recipes. If you don’t keep a mortar and pestle, or spice grinder on hand, use pre-ground spices in the same quantity.

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August has descended to show us what it’s capable of setting out. I’ve missed the heat….. and I fully realize how strange that might sound, but here in Minnesota, this summer has been anything but hot. While there are some who may tend towards whining about weather, we often can feel cheated if a summer passes us by without whacking us a good one with it’s expected personality. July’s average temperature was 70° and that’s unheard of in this state. I wore a sweatshirt last month. And pants. Maple trees beginning to turn in July is no one’s idea of Summertime.

Did you know that the origin of the term ‘Dog Days of Summer’, those sultry and hottest days traditionally between early July and early September, were once considered an evil time when ‘the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and frenzies’ ?  Really….dramatic, huh? But I suppose in the days before air conditioning…..

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Last night there was a spectacular lightning show to our Southeast. The flashes leapt from cloud to cloud, jagged arcs across an edge of the sky that was otherwise clear and filled with stars. I watched from our second floor window to get the best look at the awesome display and on occasion, would turn my eyes away to look at the glittering points of light around me. I was amply rewarded, during this, the time of Perseid, to see one lone asteroid streaking across the sky as lightning continued to flash in the other direction. It was an incredible sight.

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I haven’t been blogging about much food, have I? My apologies. We’ve been eating, but it’s been simple fare, really the best kind. Isn’t it wonderful that often the best thing you can do to food is as little as possible? Farmers markets are stuffed to bursting with more fresh fare that imagineable; the deep purple eggplants, rich green peppers and in grand fashion, trucks that are overflowing with sweet corn.

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Like the sweet cherry season of early June where I am known to purchase a sack of ruby fruits several times a week, this time of year I will happily eat my weight in sweet corn. Or try to anyway. I’m not shy about indulging and enjoying it, my hopes pinned on being so absolutely tired of it that when it’s gone for the year I won’t miss it much. Until next summer, anyway. There such a joy to biting into that quintessential taste of summer, kernels so juicy that they spray an unsuspecting fellow diner, warm melty butter slicking my lips. I can find means to eat it every single day. Have you ever tried sweet corn, smoked salmon and goat cheese in an omelet?? I highly recommend it. With fresh basil, please.

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Our suppers have been simple these days as well, lunches light and refreshing. I’ve been a bit obsessed with these beans, loving the simplicity as well as the taste. I can make an entire meal out of a thickly sliced eggplant, brushed with oil and grilled to a nice char. We enjoyed a spicy, kicky meal of chili-garlic grilled shrimp, another round of Mike’s famous burritos. There was time at the lake, where a simple mix of grilled vegetables made for an amazing side dish. Local tomatoes are starting to arrive.  I haven’t felt like there’s been much to blog about because what’s going on in the kitchen here is what should be happening in your kitchen as well, and others too. Very little. Your meal shouldn’t be putting you out, or taxing your energy. There’s a summertime outside, quietly slipping away yet with enough remaining moments to grab in your hands, maybe with a picnic on the side.

How about a nice Tabbouleh style salad to pack up and take along?

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Chickpea Tabbouleh
By Kate (with some help from The Minimalist)

I 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2-3 c. cooked bulgur
1 c. fresh green beans, steamed with a bit of crunch and diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated on a microplane (watch the fingertips!)
1/3 c. minced fresh parsley
1/3 c. minced fresh mint
Juice and zest of half a lemon (more if you desire)
3 T. good olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Place chickpeas in a medium bowl and gently mash with a fork or other implement to break down into small pieces. Add in remaining ingredients and drizzle lemon juice and oil over all. Toss to coat and combine. Season to taste and chill for several hours. Stir before serving and adjust seasoning if necessary. Change-up veggies as you please.

SOME TIPS:
Make it less, make it more; vary the bulgur to chickpea ratio according to what you desire for your salad. Add more chickpea, less grain, or reverse it. When making a salad like this, the idea of having uniformity is pleasing to the eye and makes it easier to consume, hence the microplane for grating the carrot and the step of breaking down the chickpeas. It isn’t necessary though. As per any recipe with fresh herbs, personal taste prevails. Add more if you like, or less.

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Not long ago, I spoke about taking baby steps towards chickpea appreciation.

I’m getting there. Slowly.

And also slowly, I’m foraging into my cookbook cupboard and removing a few under-appreciated and under-utilized books; books that hold glorious recipes that make me drop my head back on the chair in a sort of agony, due to my tastebuds sorrow over never having tried it, and how delicious does this look anyway?? And why do I have this book with the almost perfect spine and unstained pages? These bitter days of January, bright with sunlight and diamond sparkling snow are perfect for experimentation, for exploring the vast untapped knowledge in these books. Now that I am getting my cross country skis out regularly, it gives me a much needed energy boost and all that drive needs to go somewhere, doesn’t it?  Best get cooking, I say.

Well, hello there beautiful…..

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Couscous is about as much fun to say as it is to work with; what other product can you dump in boiling water and forget about, coming back to tender tiny little grains of perfection with zero fuss? What else can be fixed so quickly that you barely have time to chop up a few nuts, or grate some good asiago to mix into it for a stellar side dish? Let’s say couscous….. Cous…..cous.

And this dish turned out gorgeous, if I do say so myself. Brightly colored pepper and carrot nestled up to the rich green of cilantro and with a quick toss of chili garlic sauce, it became just a tiny breath of spice in the mouth, nothing 4-alarm, not a rush of sweat breaking on the brow but just a hint of the heady flavor of chilies. It’s like when you eat something and it evokes a memory that you can’t quite place. Fleeting. Perfect.

Yes, the chickpeas. Right.

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I liked the idea of mixing the chickpeas in the all that couscous goodness, the vegetables and bite of chili sauce, but I thought ‘Hey, y’know, they aren’t the right size!’ because it’s all about symmetry in my world- the towels folded edge to edge, the sheets and comforter hanging to the same length on both sides of the bed- symmetry, similar and even. Besides, when faced with a plate of food, especially something like this, it’s all about the teeny-weeny (it is couscous, after all) and so I blended the pepper and carrot in the food processor to mince them fine, whacked the nuts to pieces and took my chef knife to the chickpeas.

I then turned my kitchen into The Flying Chickpea Circus. Did I think at all that those little guys might be quite sprightly?

Oh, and the skins. Ew. That never occurred to me as I lifted my Wustof. I don’t like those skins. But it was time for chin up, marching forward to the finish line. Think symmetry; ignore the skins.

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In real time this only took about 15 minutes to pull together, of course, minus the chickpea chasing. I had the vegetables seared and waiting, the cilantro chopped, the nuts fragrant and toasted. A few quick tosses and my fork was present and accounted for, heading to my mouth. So delightful. I think the best part of this dish came later, at dinnertime, as I sat down to a steaming bowl of soup I realized that I wasn’t even that hungry. My small bowl of grains, legumes and vegetables had given me some serious sustenance, a bonus to any recipe.

More chickpea appreciation and a great dish to boot; this works perfectly as a good main course or as a side dish. Increase the chili garlic sauce for your own heat level. Watch for the flying chickpeas.

Spicy Couscous and Chickpeas
The Food and Mood Cookbook by Elizabeth Somer and Jeanette Williams.

1/2 c. chopped pepitas
2 c. chicken broth
2 c. whole wheat couscous
2 t. olive oil
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed seeded and diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed well
1-3 T. chili garlic sauce
Fresh chopped cilantro

Toast pepitas in a hot skillet until fragrant, remove to dish. In same skillet, saute pepper and carrot in oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Bring broth to a boil, add couscous and stir, then cover and remove from heat to absorb. In large bowl, combine couscous, chickpeas, pepper, carrot, pepitas and chili garlic sauce. Salt if desired. Top with cilantro.

KATE’S NOTES:
In the original recipe, the nuts listed are slivered almonds, which would be delicious in this. Toast them as well. The original recipe did not call for carrot, but it definitely improves the overall appearance and nutrition of the dish. Whole wheat couscous was my addition and I think the heartier flavor of the grain is a real boon. Thin the chili garlic sauce with a little water to make mixing more uniform. I subbed cilantro for parsley as I like it better.

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Hummus

Combine the following in food processor: 1 14-oz can garbanzo beans (i drain and rinse, you decide about that one), 1/3 c. tahini, 1/4 c. lemon juice, 1 T. oilive oil, 2 t. minced garlic, 1 t. salt, and 1/4 c. water for smoothness (this is optional but it seems to even it out well- you will need less water if you don’t rinse the beans)

Whirl together until well blended, scraping sides and stirring from the bottom as needed. Keep in fridge, eat with pita bread, crackers or veggies. Resist standing at the counter and eating it with a spoon.

I often add about 1/2 c. chopped kalamata olives to ours because we love the flavor. I have also used roasted red peppers which makes it sweeter. Don’t skimp on tahini, it gives it the authenticity you want and if you can find organic tahini, buy it. The flavor is way better.

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