I just recently read a great book of essays about eating locally (and it has some excellent recipes interspersed) by Michigan native Robin Mather called The Feast Nearby. I have always loved Robin's food writing - she was an early inspiration to me long before I started this blog, when she wrote for the Detroit News. She was a casualty of the Detroit Newspaper Strike of 1995 and then she went on to do other things. But she recently came out with this book and I loved that she took on writing about eating local food on a budget. My whole gripe with the Slow Food movement, until very recently, didn't give a rip about affordability. Because in this economy, anything talked about these days must include the bottom line. So yes, I eat local whenever I can, but that doesn't mean I need to subsidize every local farmer, no matter how far fetched their business plan is or how inefficient they are at what they do. The Slow Food movement was right when they changed their approach - local food shouldn't be a privilege of the rich. It should be for everyone.
I found the idea of this recipe on Robin's blog, but I made some significant changes. First, I much prefer using dried chickpeas instead of canned. They have better flavor and a better texture and no sodium. Canned chickpeas contain HUGE amounts of sodium - one cup accounts for 30% of an adults recommended daily value. Making dried chickpeas is easy - just put them unsoaked in a crockpot with plenty of water on low for 8 hours. I make them this way and freeze them for later use. I added some kosher salt to add flavor, as well as more cayenne pepper and the juice of 1 lemon to brighten the flavors. I also simplified some of her techniques and used a more traditional method of Indian cooking which is heating all the spices first.
Punjabi Chickpea Stew
6 servings as a main dish
2 hot peppers, split and deseeded (I used jalepenos)
2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
10 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use safflower oil)
3 large onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 cups cooked chickpeas
1 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups water
2 t. kosher salt, or to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
Combine the peppers, ginger and garlic in the blender and puree. Set aside.
In a large Dutch oven heat the oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the onions and cook, stirring, until the onions’ juices have cooked away and the onions begin to sizzle in the oil, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the chile-ginger-garlic paste and cook, stirring, until the mixture is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander and cayenne and heat for another 2 minutes or so. Add chickpeas and tomatoes,stir to mix and then add the water. Give it one more generous stir, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 15 to 30 minutes.
Add salt to taste and lemon juice Serve in bowls with a dollop of thick yogurt and a scattering of chopped cilantro.
Robin's note: If you have leftovers, the chickpeas will drink up the broth. Add a little water to reheat them to regain the stew-y consistency.
I plan on eating the leftovers Friday for lunch, when I have another day of fasting from meat. For Lent 2012 I am hoping to walk for an hour per day and to blog about as many Lent friendly recipes as I can. Happy Lent!