Winter is the best time of the year to enjoy curry. With that being said, summer doesn’t hamper my curry cravings either. There’s something about coming home to a bowl of piping hot and spices filed meal. I have been called a “rice pot” for my profound love for rice. Curry and rice makes me really happy and comforted and it is something I can make intuitively.
We have a friend staying with us currently and he is a vegetarian. When it comes to making tasty vegetarian meals, Indian cuisines are the way to go for me. So far, I have made a vegetarian version of the briyani with potatoes and lentils and it was a success. In a predictable fashion, my next Indian dish in line was chickpea curry. It is a recipe from my beloved’s mother which I used repeatedly and was feature on my blog some time ago.
Then my friend showed me his way of making chickpea curry. Cooking requires lifetime learning. Whilst I’m contented with my current way of cooking chole (indian word for chickpea curry), there’s always room to learn another way. In fact, I was introduced to a new spice – asafoetida which brings a new flavour to my chickpea curry which makes the curry taste authentic and complex in flavour. Having said that, a teeny tiny bit of asafoetida goes a long way or else the whole dish will be ruin.
A short fact on asafoetida:-
“Asafoetida is highly reputed as a drug to expel wind from the stomach, and to counteract spasmodic disorders. It is also a digestive agent and is used, among other things, for alleviating toothache and as an antidote for opium. Due to the presence of sulphur compounds, raw asafetida has a distinctive pungent aroma. To cook with asafetida, small quantities of the powdered form are sauteed in a little slightly-hot oil or ghee, before adding to a variety of savoury dishes, adding a delicious flavour reminiscent of a mixture of shallots and garlic.” (source: www.iskcon.net.au)
Chickpea Curry (Chole)
A friend’s recipe
What you’ll need for 4 servings with paratha/rice:-
- A tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 brown onion, peeled & diced
- A sprig of curry leaves (10 -12 leaves)
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp mustard seeds *optional*
- 1 large clove of garlic, peeled & finely chopped
- An inch thick of ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala (Indian mixed spices)
- 1 very small pinch of asafoetida
- Dried chilli flakes, to taste
- 2 large flat mushrooms, sliced
- 2 small-medium sized tomatoes, diced
- 2 x 400g (14 ounces) canned chickpeas, drained 1 can but keep the water with the other can
- Salt to taste
- To garnish: fresh chopped coriander
*To make the base of the curry: Add vegetable oil in a pot. When the oil is hot, add brown onion, curry leaves, mustard and cumin seeds and saute until fragrant and the onion is translucent. Then add garlic, ginger, turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala, chilli flakes (if using) and a pinch of asafoetida into the onion mixture and saute over medium-low heat until the spices are fragrant. Stir in mushrooms and saute with the spices for a minute or so. You may need to add more oil if the mixture feels a little dry. Add tomatoes and cook over low-medium flame until the oil separates from the gravy (which mean you can see a layer of oil on the surface of the gravy).
Then add the chickpeas including the water from one of the cans. Simmer the curry over medium-low heat for 20 – 30 minutes (shorter cooking time if a pressure cooker is used) until the chickpeas are mushy when pressed with a fork. Check if more salt is required. As we are adding the water from the chickpeas which already contained some salt, you may not need to add more salt. Garnish with fresh coriander before serving. I had the curry with parathas but you can also enjoy it with rice also.
* You can use this as the base of most beans and lentil curry.