Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What's Cookin': Hot or Cold Channa Masala

We had a fabulous weekend.  We enjoyed every second of being able to play outside, ate tons of summer fruits and veggies and even had a surprise overnight visit from my cousin, his wife and their two very sweet kids.  Inara and Nissa were in heaven!

The sunny skies and balmy temperatures just made me want to stay out of the house all day, so when it came time to cook dinner I found myself needing something easy and filling to throw together.  Inspired by having family come to visit, I was reminded of the garbanzo beans my mom used to make for our huge family get-togethers. My mom's version is the traditional North Indian style - heavily oiled and spiced, and served with deep-fried flatbreads.  I ended up finding a lighter version online which I thought would be perfect for the summer-like weather, and then I added vegetables to make it more of a complete meal.  The result was an easy to make and tasty new twist on an old favorite that even my discriminating niece gobbled right up (and she asked for seconds too!).  Surely that is a sign of success!

The best part about this recipe is that you can serve it immediately, so that it's nice and warm - with bread (I'm personally not into deep-fried bread, so I served it with whole wheat pitas.  Another great pairing would be Indian Naan flatbread, but it isn't usually made of whole wheat).  You could also serve this dish with rice if you're looking for a non-wheat option.  And, if you've got enough for leftovers it tastes divine served cold over a bed of spinach or other greens for an instant savory salad.  You just can't go wrong with this recipe - it's really that versatile!

So without further ado, I give you:

Hot or Cold Channa Masala

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (more if you like it spicy!)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt (I'd go light, and add more towards the end if you need it)
1/2 cup light coconut milk (I use Native Forest Organic Light Coconut Milk, which is always available in the organic section of my grocery store)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cans (15 ounces each) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoons oregano

Baby spinach, flatbread (naan or pita bread), or rice


Brown onion over medium-high heat in a non-stick skillet until almost caramelized (about 7 minutes), using a tablespoon or two of water as needed to prevent sticking.  Add garlic, red bell pepper, cumin, coriander, chili powder and garam masala.  Cook for two minutes, stirring constantly.  Add salt, coconut milk and lemon juice.  Stir until heated.  Turn heat down to medium-low and add garbanzo beans, tomatoes and oregano.  Stir to combine.  Serve immediately with rice or bread, or chilled over a bed of baby spinach leaves.


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