Chickpeas cooked with sweet flavours of onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes
Making chickpea curry for an Indian family meal is like making a Sunday roast for a British family meal. The chickpea curry can be served with roti, chapatti, paratha or rice but is best liked with Poori or Bhatura (deep fried Indian flat bread). If you are introducing your child to an Indian meal, it is worth starting with chickpea curry and poori. I have not known any child or an adult who does not relish the combination of chickpea curry and poori. Often at dinners, when I have lots of children, I encourage them to roll or press their own poori while I fry them. A great way to get them involved in the kitchen! You will find that they even eat better when they are involved in cooking.
- Boiled Chickpeas – 500 gm
- Onion – 1 medium
- Tinned Tomatoes – 200 gm
- Ginger – ½ an inch piece
- Garlic – 2 cloves
- Whole Green chili – 1 (optional)
- Whole red chili – 1 (Optional)
- Oil – 2 tbsp
- Salt – 2 tsp or to taste
- Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
- Red chili powder – 1tsp or to taste (optional)
- Turmeric – 1tsp
- Garam Masala – ½ tsp
- Fresh Coriander Leaves – one handful
- Canned chickpeas are ideal when there is last minute planning.
- If using dry chickpeas, wash them under running water and soak in 5 cups of water overnight.
- Bring to boil with same water and either cook under pressure for 45-60 minutes or in a slow cooker/ Aga heating oven for 2-3 hours until the core of chickpea is soft.
- If using pressure-cooking, let it cook on high heat until the first whistle and then reduce the heat to minimum.
- Add more water in between if required. The amount of water needed varies depending on the level of rehydration of chickpeas.
- Peel onion, ginger and garlic.
- I do not necessarily peel ginger. If you scrub wash ginger root under running water and dry it well before storing in refrigerator, it will last for couple of weeks.
- Using ginger skin gives us a slightly more earthy flavour that I personally seem to prefer.
- Chop onions, ginger and garlic in small pieces for the ease of crushing in a food processer.
- You can also use the fresh tomatoes instead of tinned tomatoes but I find the flavour and the appearance of curry is more appealing with tinned tomatoes.
- Using a food processor, mill or grinder, puree onion, ginger, garlic and tomatoes to a fine paste.
- Using tomatoes while making onion, ginger, garlic puree avoids the need of addition of water to aid the puree process.
- Make a slit in green and red whole chili and keep aside.
- Chop the fresh coriander leaves.
- Add the onion, ginger, garlic and tomato puree to a cooking pan.
- Let it simmer on low heat until the water dries from the puree.
- You will find that in most of the Indian recipes the advice is to heat oil and then add the puree. I find that adding the puree to oil makes unpleasant splatters around the hob that I hate to clean. It also leaves your kitchen with pungent aroma of cooking onions in oil. Letting the water dry before you add oil will not only avoid these unwanted splatters and smell but also gives curry a sweeter flavour.
- Remember that in a way we are boiling the onion puree. Boiled onion has sweeter flavour compared to fried onion in the oil.
- When the puree is fairly dry, add oil and let it cook for another 5 minutes.
- Continue to stir at short interval for uniform cooking avoiding the mix to burn.
- Add all dry spices and a big sip of water.
- Stir-fry for another minutes.
- Add chickpeas and stir-fry for another minutes.
- Add half a cup of water or more depending on the desired consistency of the curry.
- Add green and or red whole chili at this point to the curry (optional).
- Cover the pan and cook on the hob under low heat for 15 minutes, in a slow cooker and an Aga heating oven for half an hour, or cook under pressure (one whistle) in a pressure cooker.
- Switch of the heat. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with any Indian flat bread of your choice.