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100g of Pure Indian Joy

May 22, 2009

Honestly.  Now that I have kids, I cannot cook elaborate meals anymore.  It is near impossible.  So I take shortcuts.  Regardless of these shortcuts, my home cooking still uses classic techniques to build up the flavor of my dishes.

It’s hard to call this a recipe.  But I promised Albany Jane to share how I make chana masala.  Here is the dirty little secret.  And it’s sad that Mrs. Fussy likes this the best out of everything I cook.

1) Buy a box of MDH chana masala spice blend.
2) Follow directions on the box.

Ok.  Maybe that’s a bit of an oversimplification.  A little more work is needed given that the directions list all ingredients in grams.  And also the directions might be a tad confusing.

When I make this, I make a ton and freeze it.  Not only is it great to have a quick, tasty, cheap, healthful meal on hand, but by making it in quantity I use up an entire box of the spice blend, so I’m not left with random little packets of leftover spices that will never get used.

You will need two pretty big stockpots.

1)    Take 2 lbs of dried chickpeas, pick them over, rinse them, cover with three inches of water, and soak overnight.
2)    Drain and re-cover with water.  Bring water to a boil then reduce to a simmer for about an hour until beans are al dente.
3)    While beans are cooking, sauté in the second pot two large diced onions in plenty of canola oil and 1.5T of salt.  Mrs. Fussy hates onions, so I turn down the heat and sweat them for as long as possible.
4)    Drain the beans, and have them ready.
5)    Strain a 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes and have them ready.
6)    Dump the spice mix into the onions and stir over medium-high heat for a minute.
7)    Dump the diced tomatoes into the spice mix and stir for another minute.
8)    Dump in the beans, and stir to distribute the spice-onion mixture throughout.
9)    Cover with cold water by about an inch, add 2 rounded teaspoons of baking soda (oddly), bring to boil and reduce to simmer.
10)     Simmer uncovered for about 40 minutes until water is reduced to a thick gravy and the beans are tender (adding more water if needed).

The super friendly shopkeeper at Kashmir Bazaar recommended the MDH spice blend.  There were a couple of different brands to choose from.  I told him I was cooking for a young child and asked if he could direct me the less hot of the two.  He did, although it is still a bit too hot for Young Master Fussy.

It’s spicy, but not overpoweringly so.  This should be good news for Albany Jane, because this dish should go well with some of the sweeter wines she enjoys.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 22, 2009 1:53 pm

    Thank you my dear! I am a total glutton for anything with the divine chickpea in it! And yay – when it’s not too spicy, I can eat tons! Although for Indian food I’ve found it’s really easy to slap in some yogurt if it’s a bit too hot for me.

  2. June 30, 2009 7:11 pm

    what? awesome! i was gearing up for a super difficult recipe to follow. mdh spice blend, eh? i plan to look into this. thanks for sharing your secret!

  3. July 15, 2009 4:22 pm

    Just read this article. Then saw my comment and spent several minutes wondering how I could have read this and responded to it but not remember when it dawned on me that you might actually have another reader named Renee.

    I’m not sure I approve, but I think I can live with that.

  4. Bob W. permalink
    October 25, 2010 10:56 am

    Success! Two of my three boys ate it without complaint (the two-year-old loved it) and even the missus — a bit fussy herself — gave it a try and went back for seconds. In these parts, that is a solid mark in the win column.

    Many thanks, good sir.

  5. May 19, 2011 11:56 am

    Thanks for the link to this!

    Ooh, I’ll take an easier recipe anytime! I haven’t used the MDH spice blend, but I have zero problem with cooking a different chana masala recipe every week until I find the perfect one. Along the same lines, I think someone should organize a Cap Region cook-off. Could be chili, chana masala, bbq… whatever. Right?

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