I have been on a chickpea recipe craze lately. I love them pureed in hummus, dropped in soups, stews, toasted, roasted and simmered. They are fantastic cold in salads. They just fill a need and are nutritionally very good for you.
For this Chicken Chickpea Masala I simmer the chickpeas and red beans in onions, chopped tomatoes, garlic, chilies, my chana masala spice blend and garam masala. In another pan I do a quick sauté of the chopped chicken tenders with oil, crushed garlic, diced Serrano chilies, ginger, cumin and turmeric.
I wanted to do my take on a traditional Chana Masala as the base, which has chickpeas and tomatoes simmered with a mixture of garlic, ginger, onions, and Serrano chiles plus traditional Indian spices. A sour component like a sweet-tart pomegranate molasses is usually added as well, or amchur (powdered under-ripe green mangos). I didn’t have any pomegranate molasses on hand, but I did have some amchur powder and sprinkled that in the mix. I made the addition of chicken to make this a one dish meal. A quick rough chop of cilantro on top to garnish with lemon wedges to squeeze all over and we were good to go.
The trick in making this authentic in flavor is taking the time to hunt down and find the correct spices. I go to a local Indian spice market here in San Diego, but I am sure you could order any online, too. I’m also a big fan of toasting the spices prior to grinding, it brings out the natural essential oils and adds another dimension in flavor. In a lot of Indian cooking the spices are also toasted in hot oil. I usually purchase the spices in small quantities and store them in airtight containers. Doing these little things will definitely take your basic cooking skills to the next level and you will see and taste the difference, trust me.
Two markets I go to for international spices and such are the Balboa International Market and the Indian spice stop is at Ker Fresh – 5440 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92117.
I have included my fine-tuned Chana Masala Spice Blend recipe below, but you can also buy it online. This one suits my taste needs and is a little spicier!
The exotic smells wafting through the house as this simmers is so comforting. I love Indian cuisine and hope to travel there one day soon.
A previous co-worker friend of mine named Gouthami is from there and has invited me to a family wedding! She is so kind and I’ve only known her for a few months, it was very heartwarming and generous.
She said, as I have heard, that the Indian wedding is a very big affair which lasts 7-10 days, sometimes longer. When I asked how long she would be going for she replied, ” a full month.” WOW! That’s a lot of preparation and fun. I asked her if she had been married there as well, and she said her family put together quite the large celebration. It consisted of many days of preparation, the different ceremonies and feasting for about 5,000 people. Yes, you read that right, five-thousand-people attended. I was amazed and asked to see pictures, which she brought in the next day. Huge town halls are used to accommodate such parties. Now that’s a party!
What glorious colors and clothes from the wedding party to the food hall and everything in between. The traditional ceremonies as well as the family feasting were all caught on digital and I was transported to an amazing event.
She is going back home in November and said I could easily be a family guest to observe and she would later show me or have an elder in her family show me her country. The generosity and desire to share her country with me warmed up my soul as does this amazing dinner. I just wish we had vacation time to go with her and her husband! Another time…
By the way Gouthami said she would like to cook with me one day and share her family recipes, which I gladly will enjoy and will report back here our creations.
I really do prefer to start and plan ahead with using dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and red beans. If you forget here is a little trick I use to quickly soak them if I didn’t overnight. Feel free to use canned, but the texture is different.
- 1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and picked over (or 15 oz canned)
- 1 cup red beans, rinsed and picked over (or 15 oz canned)
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 8 fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped, skins removed
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp ground chana masala spice blend (see below)
- 1 tbsp ground garam masala
- 1 tsp amchur (dried mango) powder
- 1 lb chicken tenders, diced
- 3 tbsp oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
- 2 small fresh Serrano chili, seeded and diced
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger paste
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
- 1 lemon
- Rinse and clean the beans. Cover with cool water and soak overnight (or used canned if preferred). Drain and set aside.
- Rinse beans and place in a large stock pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chickpeas are tender, about 90 minutes. OR you could just used canned.
- In a large stock pot add the oil and sauté the onions until golden.
- To remove the tomato skins cut a small X on the opposite end of the stem side and drop in boiling water for 3 minutes, remove and cool in cold water. Using a paring knife peel back the skin from the X cut, discard the skins and dice the tomatoes. Feel free to use skinless, canned if you like. Add diced tomatoes to the onions.
- Next, add the crushed and chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, chana masala spice blend (see below instructions) and garam masala. Slowly simmer for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime sauté the chopped chicken tenders with oil, crushed garlic, diced Serrano chilies, ginger, cumin and turmeric on medium heat for 5 minutes until golden in color. Add to the onion tomato mixture.
- Add the drained cooked chickpeas and red beans to the pot, cover and cook for 5 more minutes, reserving 1 cup of chickpea liquid. Add the mango powder and stir to incorporate completely. If the mixture is too thick feel free to dilute with chickpea liquid.
- Serve with garnish of chopped cilantro and lemon wedges.
- 2 dried red chilis
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick (dal chini) or ½ tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tbsp coriander (dhania seeds)
- 3 tsp cumin (jeera seeds)
- 2 tsp dry Fenugreek leaves (Kasturi methi) or 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seed (saunf)
- 1 tsp black peppercorns (kali mirch dane)
- ½ tsp 3-4 cloves (laung)
- ¼ tsp asofoetida
- ¼ tsp nutmeg powder
- ½ tsp ginger powder
- ½ tsp green cardamom (elaichi powder)
- ½ tsp dry mango powder (amchur)
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- In a sauté pan dry toast the first 9 ingredients on low heat until you can smell their aroma and the seeds start to pop. Shake the pan constantly so as not to burn for 3 minutes.
- Allow spice mixture to cool and then grind with the other ingredients.
- Store spice mixture in an airtight container for a few months.