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Christopher Burns Christopher Burns
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A taste of India

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Chana Masala Chana Masala

Asian cuisine possesses an irresistible allure, especially among college students. I often wonder why this is. Perhaps the age-old fascination with the Asian continent never left the sons and daughters of Europe. Maybe as vegetarianism becomes prevalent, the cuisine readily accommodates more so than others. Maybe the emphasis on spice attracts culinary daredevils. Or maybe it's simply that, in a globalized world, more people are open to new experiences and foods.

A personal favorite dish of mine is Chana Masala (also known as Chole Masala), a traditional vegetarian dish from India. The primary ingredient is chickpeas, which is where it derives its name. It is popular in the Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat regions of India along its border with Pakistan. In Pakistan, a variant known as Aloo Chole is popular.

This dish is easy to make and healthy, too.

Chana Masala with steamed rice

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

1 onion

5 garlic cloves

1 red bell pepper

2 serrano chili peppers

2' piece ginger

1 28 oz can peeled whole tomatoes

2 15.5 oz cans chickpeas

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp sesame seeds

black pepper

2 cups frozen peas

1/2 cup water

For the steamed rice

2 cups rice

2 1/2 cups water

First, dice the onion, mince the garlic, slice the chili peppers and peel and grate the ginger, combining into a large bowl. Drain and rinse the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes and cut the bell pepper, and combine into a second bowl.

Over medium heat, add vegetable oil to a large pan. Add the sesame seeds to the pan and let cook for 1 minute. Toss in the onion, ginger, garlic and chili peppers, cover and stir occasionally for 5 minutes or until onion softens.

Now combine the turmeric, garam masala, coriander and some black pepper to the pan. Stir and coat as evenly as possible. Cook until kitchen is thoroughly fragrant.

Add the tomatoes and red bell pepper, stir. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and add to pan with the 1/2 cup of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until thickened into a sauce.

(Note: the dish comes out a deep brown color. About halfway through the cook I add 2 cups of frozen peas to add a little pop. Also, having read up on many of the benefits of a high intake of turmeric and black pepper, I always add a little (or a lot) extra. Feel free to tweak things to better suit your taste.)

While the Chana Masala cooks, take 2 cups of rice and in a fine metal strainer, rinse thoroughly. Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil, add the rice, stir and cover on a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Once the water is absorbed, remove from heat and keep the lid on for 5 minutes. After the rice has steamed, fluff with a fork.

Check on the Chana Masala. Once it is finished, remove from heat and leave covered for 5 minutes. When it has cooled, scoop a helping of steamed rice onto a plate and cover with the Chana Masala. The result is an authentic Indian dish at home that is good fresh and as leftovers.

Bon apptit

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