We’ve just passed the one month mark in the countdown to our big cross-country move. That means that instead of picking out a few new recipes to try each week, buying new ingredients, and planning menus, we’re starting to think about clearing out the cabinets. Some things are going to pose more of a challenge than others. For instance, I’m dreading the day that Dylan decides to pull out those cans of smoked oysters that have been sitting silent in the back for years. Is there any hope that the expiration date will save us from having to eat them? And what of all of the unusual flours and powders bought to try to replicate an Irish soda bread I once tasted at Whole Foods? I don’t think that tapioca flour has made it into anything since then.
If only everything were as easy as cans of chickpeas. If only my pantry were filled with them, rather than with half-eaten bags of marshmallows and potato starch. This recipe for chana punjabi, found on the Wednesday Chef, would be my go-to dish, a low-maintenance staple to turn to at the end of the day, just as good leftover as hot off the stove. You don’t need to have a deep love of Indian food to appreciate this simple, flavorful meal. Although nearly all of the ingredients are pantry staples, it has a fresh, bright taste with complex flavors. Dee-lish. Do as the Wednesday Chef suggests and double the recipe- it’s a lot of chickpeas, but I doubt you’ll tire of it.
Chana Punjabi (serves 2-4)
1 tablespoon canola oil or other vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 small Thai bird chili, chopped or 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped or a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt, or as needed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
Cooked rice for serving (optional)
1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, heat oil and add onion. Sauté until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and chili, and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook until tomatoes are very soft, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
2. Purée mixture in blender or food processor until smooth. Return to pan and place over medium heat. Add paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, coriander, the garam masala, turmeric and lemon juice. Add chickpeas and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.
3. Cover and simmer until sauce is thick and chickpeas are soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir pan about every 10 minutes, adding water as needed (up to 1 1/2 cups) to prevent burning. When ready to serve, sauce should be thick. If necessary, uncover pan and allow sauce to reduce for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until desired consistency. Stir in cilantro, adjust salt as needed and serve with cooked rice, if desired.