Saturday, July 24, 2010

Chickpea and Spinach Curry

So, I've been wondering what to do with the spinach that's been collecting metaphorical dust in my freezer for the last forever. Being kind of lazy, and pretty inexperienced at cooking, I tend to stick to easier, quicker recipes. But I couldn't find anything in my simpler cookbooks that looked appealing, or that I had ingredients for beyond the spinach. So I turned to a book that I don't often use because, while everything in it looks so good, it's also real cooking that takes effort (and we've already established that I'm lazy). Allow me to present: Vegan with a Vengeance. (Some day I'll post the lemon cupcakes from this book. OMG, divine!)

I've been told that you can make a curry out of just about anything, and I believe it now. Dried beans, a can of tomatoes, frozen spinach, and some spices, and you're ready to rock.

Chickpea and Spinach Curry
1 (12 oz.) can peeled whole tomatoes (or a can of diced tomatoes works too)
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 onion, diced (about 2 Cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced (or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger)
3 teaspoons curry powder (or more, much more!)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (also called hing powder, optional)
3 cardamom pods (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom)
1 teaspoon salt
10 cups fresh spinach, rinsed and chopped (or 2-3 packets frozen spinach, thawed and drained)
4 cups chickpeas, cooked and drained (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)

If using dried chickpeas, soak 2 dry cups overnight in enough water to cover them by several inches. The next day, rinse well, and boil in about 6 cups of water for 2 hours. Check for softness to ensure they're done.

Open the can of tomatoes, and making sure to save the juice, take each tomato and tear it into bite-size pieces. Set them aside in a bowl.

Heat a medium saucepan over moderate heat, add the vegetable oil and the mustard seeds, and let the seeds pop for about a minute, covered so they don't jump out. Add the onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes, or until the onions turn brown. Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the other spices and 1/4 cup of the tomato juice you saved. Cook for another minute, then add in the tomatoes. When the tomatoes are heated through, add the fresh spinach a handful at a time and cook until wilted (or just add your thawed, drained, frozen spinach). The mixture should be a liquidy - add more tomato juice if not. Add the chickpeas. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir every now and then, and adjust the spices as desired. Remove the cover and simmer for another 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and stewlike.

Wow, that's a horrible-looking stovetop. Color me ashamed.

I added several times the amount of curry powder called for, and frankly I could have handled hotter, so when you're making this, be certain to taste it often to adjust how you like your curry to taste. In actuality, I added extra of pretty much every spice, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I enjoyed this over warm rice, and it was extremely satisfying.


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