Tuesday, March 13, 2012

vij's chickpeas in star anise

Man... I have a backlog of recipes to post for you people! Things have been so crazy. I have two final projects due in the next couple of weeks. One of my final projects involved, well, food (what else is new - food is my obsession) so I had to cook up a bunch of things that would look pretty in photographs. In fact, I blew my weekly budget at the grocery store on all these projects. I baked a layer cake (which didn't end up making the final cut, but was delicious) and some more cupcakes (which did). I redid my kalamata hummus photo. I baked cookies that sounded more exciting than they actually were. And I made a curry.

A curry that I've been desiring ever since the delightful Foodess posted it on her blog. People, this curry is just as good as it sounds. It's sweet, spicy, protein-rich and meat-free. Honestly, I felt that cardamom was more dominant as a flavour than star anise, but the anise was there. It probably would have been different if I'd used ground star anise.

But, in all seriousness, run (don't walk) to your nearest grocery store to get the supplies you need to make this for your dinner. Vij will not disappoint you. He never, ever does.

Tips: One thing I've learned with respect to making curries is the importance of mise en place, meaning literally everything in place. Curries tend to have a lot of ingredients that need measuring out. Make your life easier by doing this ahead of time. I take note of which ingredients are to be added in the same steps  - spices in particular - and measure them into the same bowl if it's reasonable to do so.

vij's chickpeas in star anise
Adapted from Vijs At Home: Relax, Honey: The Warmth and Ease of Indian Cooking 

2 19-oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (original recipe calls for 3 15-oz cans)
2 green caradmom pods
1/3 cup cooking oil (I use Becel)
1 1/2 cups diced onion
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons minced garlic (approximately 6 cloves)
6 fresh or dried dates, pitted and chopped (I used fresh)
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt (or less if the chickpeas are salted)
cayenne pepper to taste (Vij recommends 1 teaspoon, I used a 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 teaspoon ground star anise, or two whole star anise
1/2 cup water
roughly chopped cilantro

  • Crack open the cardamom pods with a knife and scrape out the seeds. Set aside. Discard shells.
  • Heat the oil on medium-high heat and saute onions until translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute.
  • Turn the heat down to medium and throw in tomato paste, stirring to distribute evenly. Add the dates, cumin, salt, cayenne, black pepper, star anise and cardamom. Allow them to cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the chickpeas and water. Toss to coat the chickpeas in the masala. Once the chickpeas are heated through, remove whole star anise and serve immediately with cilantro for garnish, if you like. 

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