Cooking Indian food doesn't have to be a big complicated affair. Like every cuisine, there are dishes that can take hours and there are dishes that can satisfy a busy weeknight. My journey into Indian cooking started only after Darius was born. I have a couple of cookbooks, but most of what I have learned about Indian cooking comes from watching and learning from my Indian family.
One of the tricks I've learned for fast Indian cooking is to buy the ready-made spice packets. Traditional Indian foods calls for each spice to be roasted and then ground by hand. Who has time for that?!? I learned from my Indian mommas that very few folks actually do this any more - at least not here in the US. So go buy yourself a few packets. It's not cheating. My only advice is to play around with the measurements to find the flavor and level of heat you desire. If you haven't been to an Indian or Middle Eastern market, work up the courage to go. Believe me, they'll know once they look at you that you're gonna need help navigating the store. I promise that they will help. Seriously.
The ingredients in this curry are simple. The whole thing is done in about the same time it makes to cook the rice. Plus the meal is vegetarian, making it a healthy alternative to some rich (and fattening) meat curries.
Simple Chana Curry
- 2 cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 can of tomato sauce
- 1/2 can of coconut milk
- 3 tbsp of Chana Masala spice packet (I bought mine at our local East West Indian Market but I've seen these in the ethnic foods aisle of the grocery store)
- 2 tsp grated/minced garlic (I used granulated since I was out of the fresh)
- 2 tsp grated/minced ginger
- This curry has mild to medium heat. If you want to spice things up, add one minced serrano pepper to your list of ingredients.
In a medium size pot, add a couple teaspoons of oil to the chopped onion. Cook over medium heat until lightly browned. Add the garlic, ginger, masala, and chili pepper, if using. Continue cooking for another minute. Add the tomato sauce and garbanzo beans. Bring to a soft boil then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the garbanzo beans are soft. Stir in coconut milk and serve over hot steamed rice (we use Basmati in our house for all Indian meals). Enjoy!