Monday, November 3, 2008

Recipe: Aloo Chole

This recipe probably had more to with my wife's conversion from someone who didn't like Indian food to someone who loves Indian food than anything else. It is a milder dish, yet full of great flavor. "Approachable" is what I think an Indian food novice may think.

Aloo Chole and related chickpea dishes like chana masala are very popular street foods in India. They are inexpensive and easy to prepare and not only sustaining but really flavorful. I've had aloo chole a number of ways, from a "stew" consistency to something thicker and more in line with my recipe below. I usually prepare it as a side dish in larger Indian dinners I prepare at the house. However, aloo chole really shines as a lunch item paired with a good piece of naan or roti. Like many Indian foods it seems to get better with one or two days behind it.

I always get the impression that chickpeas can seem a little foreign to a lot of people, I find that aloo chole can really change people's opinons. So, if you're looking to introduce someone to Indian food, or you're looking to experiment yourself, you may want to give aloo chole a go.

While I have not done it, what I've learned from cooking a lot of Indian foods is that if you're looking for something a little more toward the "stew" range in a dish, the addition of oil or ghee seems to be the path you'd want to take. I've found this work well with tikka masala, I'm sure it would work here if you like.

Recipe: Aloo Chole

2 cans chickpeas (around the 14 oz. size)
I medium onion (chopped)
1 tsp onion seeds ("nigella")
1 tsp cumin
6 cloves garlic (sliced)
1 cup plain yogurt
1 medium potato (cut into 1/2" cubes)
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
3/4 tsp salt
2 TBS peanut oil
1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)

Place a large pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the peanut oil.

When the oil begins to shimmer, add the onion and saute until translucent.

Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes.

Add the onion seed and cumin seed and stir for a few minutes.

Add the cubed potatoes and stir until slightly translucent.

Add the add chickpeas, spices and yogurt and stir in well. Cover, lower heat to medium and continue cooking for approximately 20 minutes, stirring it occasionally. Add a little water if necessary.

Remove cover and use a potato masher to mash about 1/3 of the mixture. Stir to blend. Again, add a little water if necessary.

Mix in chopped cilantro and serve with naan or roti bread.

It is better the next day.

Recipe: Aloo Chole from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk

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