Monday, November 9, 2009

Chickpeas In A (Magically) Toasty, Nutty Sauce

In this, my third guest post, I hereby declare my most characteristic trait as a cook: although highly recipe-dependent and generally fearful of experimentation, I’m also prone to inattentive reading of a given recipe, resulting in subsequent disaster or near-disaster, and - finally - a neat save (or, alternatively, hideous crap that has to be politely accommodated by family and friends, or thrown into the bin). The night this dish was born was just such an occasion, as I had a chickpea craving and got all enthusiastic about scouring our numerous Indian cookbooks for some satisfying, semi-spicy dish on a cold, late autumn evening. I consulted the index to Yamuna Devi’s biblical Lord Krishna’s Cuisine, and settled on "Chickpea, Almond, Sesame Sauce." Wow, that sounds great, doesn’t it? How could chickpeas, almonds, and sesame seeds be bad? It couldn’t! Let’s launch into it, then. Toasted sesame, cumin, and mustard seeds? Check! Toasted almonds? Check! OK, let’s….oh wait. Put it in a food processor along with the chickpeas? What? That sounds like it’s going to be a…oh. Sauce. Right.

You can see what I mean by “inattentive reading.” What to do now? To intensify the situation, the eponymous Elizavegan called in the middle of the whole crisis to say she’d be home earlier than expected for dinner. I felt like Samantha Stephens, having to whip up something spectacular when Darren calls to say that Mr. and Mrs. Brewster are coming for dinner (honey), and the big account needs saving because Larry Tate is really riding his ass...well, okay; whatever Derwood would have said when he really meant "ass." Well, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of bullshitting, and in the absence of magical powers or an intervention by Dr. Bombay, a rethink was clearly called for. In the end, I decided that everything in the “sauce” up to that point was bound to be awesome, so I just reconceived it as a glazed-tomato chickpea dish with the nutty sauce thrown in and - hey presto! - with a big pile of garlicky collard greens on the side, it all worked out fine. So: I hereby present to you this (succesfully) improvised reinvention of yet another Ayurvedic classic.

Chickpeas In A (Magically) Toasty, Nutty Sauce

~¼ cup sesame seeds
~1 teaspoon cumin seeds
~½ black mustard seeds
~¼ cup chopped almonds
~¼ cup raw cashews (optional but awesome)
~1 tablespoon olive or sesame oil
~3 medium-sized tomatoes, diced
~Juice of 3 limes
~1 tablespoon brown sugar
~½ teaspoon asafoetida
~2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
~1 teaspoon salt
~ ½-1 cup water

~Combine the sesame seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and nuts in a large, heavy-bottomed frypan over medium-low heat and toast until the sesame seeds turn golden brown and it smells really good.
~Empty into a food processor and blend for 30 seconds or until coarsely powdered.
~Heat olive or sesame oil in the same pan over medium heat, then add diced tomatoes. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and sensuous (sounding a bit more like Nigella Lawson than Elizabeth Montgomery there!)
~Add the seed/nut mixture and stir until blended.
~Add the lime juice, sugar, asafoetida, chickpeas, and salt. Continue cooking over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, adding water as needed to prevent sticking and make a rich, saucy consistency.
~Serve over basmati rice with some hot Indian pickle, and you'll have the Brewster account in the bag before Endora can show up, get everyone drunk, flirt with Mr. Brewster, and turn his wife into a teapot!

1 comment:

  1. This sounds brilliant - definitely one to save and try!