Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Yesterday as I was perusing some Trader Joe's products I had a taste of some Indian inspired chick pea concoction (chana masala) and it tasted so wonderful I quickly read the back of the ingredients and came home to cook something that would at least allude to it's memory. I generally don't (ever) like to buy frozen pre-cooked foods, but I almost came home with that stuff. However, I'm glad I didn't because I managed to conjure up a just as tasty dish sans the added preservatives and junk they put in. I've discussed beans (black beans) previously on here. I've also wanted to delve into garbanzo beans, especially after seeing them fresh in their little green leaf jackets at the Mexican grocery store I sometimes shop at. Well, now that Chicago suddenly got chilly and I needed to warm myself up with something that wasn't too stewed or meat-laden, this dish was perfect!
As an added bonus, beans in general are excellent for regulating water, sugar, and other aspects of metabolism. Garbanzo beans (aka. chick peas), are particularly beneficial to the digestion, pancreas, and the heart and are higher in iron that most other legumes. One of the wonderful things about Chinese Medicinal nutrition is that the principles are so simple and beautiful whilst also steeped in serious study and history. The easy way to remember that a garbanzo bean is good for your heart is that it looks like a heart, thus the garbanzo love title.
I had a can of these love beans at home, preserved in water and sea kelp. I also had the required tamarind pulp which I have been itching to use but the usual dishes I make with it felt too hot for the summer so I was holding off. Everything in this recipe was medicinal and I was so excited to taste it! Garlic, onion, ginger (digestive), tamarind pulp (aids digestion, fights fevers, amongst countless other uses), tomato (tomato season is wrapping up and I had a beautiful heirloom waiting at home), salt, chiles (wonderful for moving the blood and circulation in general), cumin (warming), cilantro, and that's it! The only thing I was missing was tumeric and perhaps correander seeds, which I substitued with the sprinkled cilantro (it helped). I sauteed the garlic, ginger, onion, and chiles for a while, on a low heat until it all started to meld, then I added one scoop of tamarind pulp, a dash of sugar (to mellow out the tartness), some sea salt, then tomatoes (I let them stew down), once it started to form a gorgeous base I added in the chick peas with a dash of cumin and cooked it all for a while longer until it all came together (dropped a bunch of minced cilantro on) and DONE, it was DELICIOUS. I can not emphasize enough how much I recommend you go home and make it this now. Eat it with some fish and rice, or chicken and rice, or pork and rice (like we did), or just simply eat it alone, it's beautiful. It settles nicely in the stomach (and heart).
Tamarind pulp (from a Thai store)
I plucked my tomato from this wonderful selection at the farmers market.
Here's another version I found of chana masala that I liked. This dish seems to be much like many dishes, everyone has their version.