Not much about a cloudless, 75 degree evening screams Chana Masala, so I'm not sure why I passed up the grill, winking at me from its new patio spot, to spend an hour over a hot stove top. But I did. I blame it on my inability to repurpose the chickpeas I bought a few weeks ago, while it was still chilly, with the intention of making Indian food. Sometimes I get a one-track mind, and I just can't let go. At least momentarily turning my kitchen into a sauna was worth it.
This recipe is an adaptation of Molly Wizenberg's, over at Orangette. I've been following her blog for about a year and half, have read and proselytized her book, and even had the pleasure of meeting her a few months ago...(and looking all silly when I waited for an hour after her reading to thank her and tell her what an inspiration she is. I might have even gotten teary. I can't be sure. Let's move on.)
1/4 cup good-quality olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp fresh, minced ginger
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 pint diced grape tomatoes
1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
1 Tbs cilantro leaves, roughly torn, plus more for garnish
1 28-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
* 6-8 Tbs plain whole-milk yogurt, optional
A few lemon wedges, optional
Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until deeply carmelized, and even charred in spots. Be patient. The more color, the more full-flavored the final dish will be.
Reduce the heat to low. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, garam masala, and cardamom, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ¼ cup water, and stir to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the water has evaporated away completely. Pour in tomatoes with their juices and the salt.
Raise the heat to medium, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce gently, stirring occasionally, until it reduces a bit and begins to thicken. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Add the chickpeas, stirring well, and cook over low heat for about five minutes. Add 2 Tbs water, and cook for another five minutes. Add another 2 Tbs water, and cook until the water is absorbed, a few minutes more. This process of adding and cooking off water helps to concentrate the sauce’s flavor and makes the chickpeas more tender and toothsome. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
Stir in the yogurt, if you like, or garnish with lemon wedges and cilantro. Serve.
*I chose to leave out the yogurt of mine.