So, I’m at my brother and sister’s-in-law house this weekend and they proposed a challenge for my blog. They will be moving to a new state in a few weeks and are trying to get rid of as much extraneous junk as possible, including canned goods and other food stuffs. My challenge was to make dinner using as many ingredients as they already had (pretty random assortment).
The result: curried chickpeas and spinach with coconut rice
I was inspired by a spice blend I recently bought at Pensey’s Spice called “Balti” that is a warm, complicated Pakistani mix with 18 different spices and herbs including the main elements of coriander, garlic, ginger, and cumin.
1 part brown basmati rice
1 part lite coconut milk
1 part water
Splash of oil (peanut or olive) and salt
Heat the oil in a lidded pan large enough to hold all ingredients above. Add the rice and salt, and stir till the rice is coated in oil. Lightly toast the rice in the hot oil. Add the water and the coconut milk, stir. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn down the heat to low, and simmer for 45 min. Fluff the rice with a fork.
** Depending on what you are having this with, adding whole spices to adds delicious fragrance to the rice. I recommend trying cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and or cardamom pods.
Indian chickpeas and spinach
2 Tbs neutral oil
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
crushed red chili flakes (to taste)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
3 cans chickpeas, rinsed
2 lbs fresh spinach
1 15oz can chopped tomatoes
tarka (see below)
Heat the oil on med high with the cumin and chili flakes. Add the onion and a sprinkle of salt. Sauté the onion for 3-5 min until translucent, then add the garlic. Sauté for 2-3 more minutes then add ginger. When the spices are good and fragrant, add the chickpeas. Toss them in the spices to coat and cook for about 5 minutes to infuse the flavor into them. Add the spinach and mix well. Cook for an additional 5 minutes, then add tomatoes. Turn the heat down to med, cover, and simmer for 30 min, stirring regularly.
When the chickpeas are soft, and the spinach is fully mushy, salt very well. Serve over the coconut rice and top with tarka to desired spiciness.
(this is the key to a good curry!)
4 Tbs butter or ghee
1/4 Tbs red chili flakes
1/2 Tsp cumin seeds
1 Tsp Balti
1/4 Tsp curry powder
(These can be adjusted to taste, all measurements are approximate). Warm the butter in a pan and add the spices. Cook on med/med-low heat for a few minutes until fragrant. Spoon on top of dish for serving, then mix in.
Some great things about this meal include that it’s got complete protein from the legumes and brown rice, it has some super foods from the spinach, canned tomatoes, and turmeric (in the curry blends). It’s low fat, although the coconut milk does not have the best *kinds* of fat (almost 100% saturated fat), the lite milk does not have very much.
The worst thing about this meal is that it technically takes 3 pans to make. Theoretically, you could add the spices that compose the tarka straight into the chickpeas and spinach towards the end of the cooking process, but I think you would lose some of the complexity of the dish (and you wouldn’t be able to adjust for individual tastes when serving).
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Please let me know if you make any of the above, and how they worked out.