16 Oct Pumpkin & Chickpea Curry (Chana Masala)
It’s Autumn, which means that there is Pumpkin fever everywhere… I love, love, LOVE winter pumpkin & squashes. Butternut and Kabocha are my absolute faves… for their rich yet delicate flavour, plus I also like the smaller acorn or other mini types that are brilliant for making into individual casings for stuffing and roasting.
Also, it’s no secret that I also love chickpeas! They’re brilliant ( I use them in recipes All.The.Time…) , and I often combine them with squash in easy tray roasts to great effect. . They’re natural bedfellows, with the meatiness of the chickpeas complementing the sweetness of the pumpkin. However, although I’ve tried out versions of a chickpea & pumpkin curry a few times for some reason, I just haven’t cracked it, despite trying all kinds of spice combinations. It turned out insipid and watery (ewww), or just a bit normal and bland and bleh. Not at all what you want from a curry.
But… I think I’ve finally cracked it. The Gardener forwarded me an article in the Guardian (by Felicity Cloake) on how to make the perfect Chana Masala, which is a well loved chickpea curry all over India with all kinds of different recipes and variations… I then read something else about cooking squash by one of my fave chef/writers, Nigel Slater and I realised where I’d been going wrong.
I usually don’t know exactly where my recipes come from, most of the time I get an idea from reading various bits, from all kinds of sources & it comes to me as I make it, but as I had tried & failed on so many occasions and Felicity Cloake’s recipe references all kinds of curry experts, and she’s tested them all out (yay!) using hers as a basis for my pumpkin & chickpea made sense… And boy did she not disappoint!
I didn’t quite use hers to the letter ( Ermmm… nothing new there) , there was a lack of coriander available… and I sort of missed out adding spices at one point, plus decided that a squirt of tomato paste would be a good idea..
Also- I added pumpkin/squash, to satisfy my Autumnal craving … but the real revelation here was roasting the squash instead of adding cubes of it directly to the curry to cook. This meant that the flavours concentrated & intensified, which when added to the curry added to the flavour profile. Not watery or bland. Hurrah!
Added bonus to roasting the squash? I roasted a whole one which was double what I needed, meaning that I could rustle up a pasta or gutsy salad the next day with next to no effort! Super Organised Cooking Win!
- 1 400 g chickpeas cooked. ( This is either 1 tin, or 200g dried that has been cooked!)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 large onion , finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves
- 25 g root ginger
- 30 g fresh coriander seeds
- 2-4 green chillies , chopped roughly
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1-2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 400 g tin of plum tomatoes , sort of squashed up in the tin with a knife
- 1 Tbs tomato paste
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garam masala ( Or other masala mix- I used a really great organic madras mix)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 butternut squash- cut into pieces.
Put the cut up squash into a roasting tin, slick with olive oil & a sprinkle of salt & pop in the oven.
Meanwhile, pop the drained chickpeas in a pan (assuming you're using tinned) and add half a cup of water Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes then drain, making sure to reserve a bit of the cooking water. (thank YOU Felicity for this amazing tip- it makes a huge difference to the end texture of the dish).
In a mortar & pestle or stick blender to blend the garlic, ginger, coriander & chilli into a paste...
Then, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion & cumin seeds and cook until the onion is softened & the cumin is popping & aromatic.
Add the paste of garlic, ginger, coriander & chilli paste & add it into the pan, cooking it for few minutes. Add in the chilli powder and turmeric & stir...
Then, stir in the squished up tomatoes, chickpeas and their cooking water and a pinch of salt. Bring this all to a bit of a simmer and let it thicken. This might take 15- 20 mins...
Stir in the garam masala, and the lemon juice, plus taste for salt & add a little if needed...
We ate half of this one evening. Then the next wilted in baby spinach for a bit of freshness & difference & it was even more delicious!
Adapted from Felicity Cloake- The Guardian