My pantry is lined wall to wall, or rather shelf to shelf, with containers of beans of every color and shape. Yellow canary beans, canellini beans, lima beans, pink beans, pinto beans, red rajma beans, navy beans, black beans, blackeyed peas, garbanzo beans, fava beans…you name it, it’s likely there.
And when I see a bean recipe that’s different from the ones I already know, I devour it with unabashed gluttony.
So what’s it about beans?
Let’s just say this: you cannot get a better bang for your buck than these protein- and fiber-packed wonders.
A bean is not just another bean is not just any other bean. Each bean has its own character and its own unique flavor and texture. When you learn to appreciate beans, you open yourself up to a healthy, flavorful and delicious world of cooking and eating.
But much as a I love all kinds of beans, I must admit, I do have a favorite.
Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas. Come to think of it, they even stand apart from other beans because of the way they look: cute and chubby, instead of spare, smooth, and shiny, the way the other denizens of the beanworld are.
For a cook, chickpeas are also great because compared to most other beans, they cook up quite easily, although it’s even easier if you take the time to soak them. They have a wonderful, hefty yet creamy texture that makes them ideal for both felafel and hummus. They taste great just boiled and tossed into a leafy salad or spiked with a few simple Indian spices and coconut to make a sundal. And they are unbelievably meaty and delicious in spicy hot curries ladled over rice.
My recipe for today is for such a curry, but with a twist. The curry, based very loosely on a recipe from World Vegetarian, uses some Caribbean spices, which give it a uniquely spicy, smoky flavor that is mindblowingly delicous.
I served it with some chapatis and rice, but just one or the other would work as a great partner for this red-hot curry.
Enjoy, everyone, and have a great weekend!
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked for 8 hours and then cooked until tender
1 onion, finely chopped
2 jalapeno chili peppers, finely minced
1 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium-sized potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup chopped coriander or cilantro leaves
For the masala or spice powder:
Roast until just a couple of shades darker and then powder in a blender or spice-grinder:
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
In a saucepan, heat the oil
Add the onion and fry until it starts to brown.
Add the jalapeno chilies, garlic, the thyme, and the powdered spices, and stir-fry for a minute.
Add the chickpeas and the potatoes along with about 2 cups of water (use up any water left over from cooking the chickpeas),
Add salt. Bring the curry to a boil, then turn the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and cook for about 15-20 minutes.
Garnish with coriander and, if desired, some freshly diced onions and tomatoes.