Check this out: I’m posting a recipe.
I just made, if I may say, a freaking awesome Channa Masala. I call it unholy because if the devil came up and said, “hey: eternity in hell, but you get a whole bowl of this,” and then offered you a taste, you’d be tempted.
Here’s the stuff you need:
- 1 medium-large onion
- 1-3″ chunk of fresh ginger, to taste
- 2-5 cloves of garlic, to taste
- 400-or-so mL can of diced tomatoes
- 1-3 large, green bird peppers
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1.5-2 large cans of chick peas (I used a big Unico one and a smaller organic one)
- 1/2-1 cup plain, full-fat goat yogurt
- 3 Tbsp cumin
- 1.5 tsp garam masala
- 3 chunky bay leaves
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- your favourite cooking oil
This makes enough to feed 3-5 people, assuming you have one other vegetable dish and that your guests have eaten other meals within the last 18 hours.
Before we start, I want to clarify the ingredients a bit. I say 2-5 cloves of garlic because garlic is always subjective, and the local Ontario-grown cloves are titanic. I used 4; 3 were tiny, but one (the local one) was the size of a small plum. Ginger is also subjective, and I like it. With a 2″ chunk, it doesn’t stand out much, but like an Icelandic passport, it’s nice to know it’s there. Now the peppers… proper green bird peppers—the 3″ long, skinny, lumpy, curved ones—are violently hot. Since there’s yogurt in this recipe, the fat disarms most of the capsaicin and the heat is extremely muted; but the heat isn’t the point. These peppers also have a very distinct taste, like sweet green peppers but more, maybe more astringent than sweet. You might not have noticed this before, because you were trying to get to your mango lassi before your mouth ignited, but this flavour is essential to the recipe. Combined with the yogurt, it’s like meeting a ninja who has killed a thousand people, but then he only compliments you on your glasses and shakes your hand a bit too hard. I used 3, because I can take a hefty handshake (this came out as a comfortable burn level for me). 2 would be reasonable for people who enjoy some rooster sauce now and then, 1 would be pretty mild. If you can’t find the green bird peppers, get the Thai ones and use colour you like best. If you decide to chicken out on the peppers, use Serrano peppers, which are apparently similar in flavour, but much weaker. If you do this, I’d suggest using 3 (which is still weaker than one bird pepper) and then using less yogurt. Also, I really mean goat yogurt. It’s more… yogurty than cow yogurt. If you use cow yogurt, add another tablespoon of lemon juice, maybe.
Anyway, on to the actual cooking part…
Take one Tbsp of the cumin, and roast it dry in a small skillet until the colour changes, or even until it starts to burn a little. Cumin is emotionally resilient, so it will survive both the separation from the other cumin and the heat. In fact, the hardship will add enormously to the flavour of the dish.
Simultaneously, in a much larger skillet, start heating your favourite cooking oil.
Now, grind the rest of the cumin and put it in a blender with the ginger, the garlic, the onion, the bird peppers, and the tomatoes. Don’t seed the peppers; just chop off the stems. Press buttons as required to reduce all of these things to mush. Smell the result: between the onion and the peppers, you should be able to smell it with your eyes. I strongly advise against tasting it, because it will be absolutely nuclear (the yogurt will save you. Don’t panic). Once the oil is hot, pour in the paste and add the bay leaves.
At this point, the cumin on the smaller skillet is probably about done. Check on that. It should be more of a light brown than a pale green. The difference between roasted cumin and raw cumin can be subtle under some lights, so compare it against the raw stuff. If it’s starting to go black, it’s definitely done, but you’re still ok. If it’s done , grind it together with the garam masala and chili powder. Don’t add it yet. This is the Potion of Awesome +5. Let it sit, for dramatic tension.
This is also a great time to rinse those chick peas. Notice when you start rinsing them that a soapy froth comes up: those are all of the farts that you won’t have, because you’re rinsing your beans properly.
Once the paste has boiled for 5-10 minutes, add the chick peas, the Potion of Awesome, and the yogurt. Mix all of this together and reduce the heat to a high simmer. Once it starts boiling again, add the lemon juice, stir it in, and salt to taste.
The internet suggests cilantro and thinly sliced tomatoes for garnish. I usually cook for myself and for my lunch, so on the occasion that someone sees it, the presentation is destroyed by the fact that it’s in a tupperware container. But style points are like MSG, in the sense that it just makes everything better until it makes you sick, unless you’re allergic.
I’m also developing an Aloo Gobi recipe, but it still needs a few tweaks. Until then, I hope you enjoy this as much as I did and will for the next two days.