Oh My Sweet (chick)Pea! What a Masala!

Home Sweet Home! The past week I spent in California with the folks, frolicking in warm weather. In fact, I actually extended my trip by two days in order to bypass the awful possibility of taking up residence in an airport due to winter storms and the like.  It worked out quite well, as G would truly have been unable to retrieve my beleaguered self from the airport had I been able to fly in Tuesday.  That said, a few more days with the family were nice and well spent (mainly in eating exorbitant loads of cookies, watching movies, and playing games) but I was extremely happy to be back.  And quite surprisingly (or not), I missed my kitchen (though not nearly as much as the husband, I swear!).  I realized I felt a little out of sorts in my mom’s domain—my creativity was slightly stilted and I simply just didn’t move around with as much ease as I do in my tiny box over here.  Nevertheless, I did whip up some honey-wheat pancakes—with bananas and blueberries—and fajita-style chicken and peppers, but I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t at my A game.

And thus, the return home marked a revival of spirits: utter contentment on my part to be with G again, my husband’s own spirit bouncing off the walls as well, and my desire to be spontaneous! Be free! Be wild and crazy in the kitchen!!

… But I was tired as well from travelling and unpacking.  So we know how to keep it simple here in Alyaville too, and thus yesterday evening I went super basic and super tasty with a Sweet Pepper Chana Masala (Chana being garbanzo beans/chickpeas).

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, very thinly sliced
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced (I cheated and used about ½ a can of petite cut diced tomatoes as I had none fresh at home)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 HEAPING tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • Dash of turmeric
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 long sweet pepper (or bell peppers will suffice), chopped
  • 1 serrano chili, sliced in rounds (ie circles, not length-wise) and rinsed (remove seeds for less spiciness)
  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • Handful of coriander leaves, for garnish and extra munchiness

Super easy and fairly quick recipe, I might add.

In a medium sized pot or large pan, drizzle in a few tbsp of oil (canola I used this time) until the pan is nicely coated and warmed to medium heat. Add the onions, mix them a bit and let them slowly melt into the oil.  Add the crushed garlic and let it all melt more.  Keep the heat on medium-low so as not to brown the onions, you want them to be silky and translucent.

After a good 5-8 minutes, add the spices: salt, cumin, chili powder and turmeric, trying not to let the powerful aroma take hold of your senses and drown all sensibility—amazing spice blends can do that, so beware.  Mix mix mix it all up, then add the tomatoes and enough water to cover the tomatoes jut barely.  I actually put the tomatoes in a blender before hand and pureed them to make it cook together faster in the pot.  Just a tip.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to let it simmer and the tomato taste to cook out.

Once it is nearly done, add the beans and let them soften while it cooks more. You might need to add a bit more water at this point so the beans are nearly covered as well.  Always make sure to taste when you make adjustments like this, as your spices can be watered down occasionally.  As I love Cumin, I added a little more.  And chili powder. But not too much for once.

In a separate frying pan, heat 2 tbsp oil and lightly fry the red pepper and Serrano chili together.  I wanted them to have a slight crunch to them but to mainly be softened and cooked, so I actually sautéed on low for a few minutes, and then increased the heat to give them some crispness quickly.  Then I added the peppers into the pot, sprinkling rosemary on top and mixing everything into a sumptuous simple blend, simmering for a few short minutes.  Add the coriander leaves, and set aside to serve!

Sweet Pepper Chana Masala!

I actually reserved a small handful of onions slices from the beginning, and properly browned them in a frying pan mixed with cumin seeds, which I then tossed into fresh white rice for a quick seasoning.  G was over the moon with this simple and really tasty dish—he seems to favor simplicity to my otherwise creative concoctions, but no worries! That shan’t stop me from whipping up something more daring later on  (read as a warning for your tastebuds haha).

That said, be prepared for our next literature session in a post or two.

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