Thursday, 28 April 2016

Chick peas in Spinach sauce

Legumes have always been very important part of my diet. I have adored everything in the legume family including chick peas or garbanzo beans. I eat them however possible – boiled, curried, sautéed, and even just soaked overnight. It tastes absolutely gorgeous with a little bit of lime, salt, pepper and cilantro (fresh coriander) sprinkled over the soaked peas. Same for the boiled, you can make it into a simple salad, add it to your sautéed vegetables, include it in your pilaf, make hummus with it etc. The list is endless thereby making it a very versatile food.

However, at home, I was always given a single version of chick peas which was made with onions and spices; the only variation came from whether tomato was to be added to the curry or not. With my food experimenting nature, I decided to sway off the regular traditional food and include chick peas here and there. After a lot of mix and match, I found that chick peas go along with almost everything and I was particularly fond of this recipe because of the nutritional value as well as the enticing taste of spinach that is being used as a base for this curry.

There are two things that can be substituted in place of chick peas – sweet American corn kernels and paneer (cottage cheese). Both have their unique taste and both go amazingly well with spinach. As always, I do want to mention that the level of heat can be altered according to the taste. You can always cut out the clarified butter from the recipe. However, I do insist on using it as it endows a creamy sophistication to the end product.  

For the Recipe:

1 cup chick peas (boiled)
2 cups fresh spinach
2 medium tomatoes (diced)
2-3 cloves of garlic
½ inch ginger
10-12 raw cashews
2-3 green chilies
1 medium onion (diced)
½ tsp whole cumin
1 dry red chili
3-4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
Salt and sugar to taste
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin powder
11/2 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp garam masala

Toast the cashews in a little bit of oil until they are light golden. Put the ginger, garlic and chilies with the cashews and make a paste. Set aside.

Heat some oil. Pop the whole cumin and the dry red chili (cut it into small pieces to release more flavor) until fragrant. Toss in the onion and fry until it is translucent. Add in the tomatoes and let it roast in the heat until its pulpy; add in the spinach and let it wilt. Once wilted, make a paste out of it and set aside.

Heat some more oil and add the cashew and ginger garlic paste. Cook the paste until oil is separated. Sprinkle in all the spices (except garam masala) and season well. Add the spinach paste and give it a good mixing. Toss in the chick peas and add water. I would generally leave it on a low heat and keep simmering it until oil separation but you can always opt to let it simmer for about 15minutes. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Add the garam masala and ghee at this time. Give it a stir and serve hot with chapattis, rotis, steamed rice, etc.