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From the SCCC Kitchen: Chick peas are centerpiece of spicy Indian dish

Wednesday, October 24, 2012
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Chana Masala is chick peas with “a lovely blend of spices — ginger, garlic, cumin and coriander,” says SCCC’s Lakshmi Seetharaman.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber
Chana Masala is chick peas with “a lovely blend of spices — ginger, garlic, cumin and coriander,” says SCCC’s Lakshmi Seetharaman.

“From the SCCC Kitchen” offers tastes from Schenectady County Community College’s culinary arts program. Today, educational aide Lakshmi Seetharaman offers a spicy Indian dish, Chana Masala.

Lakshmi Seetharaman starts her recipe discussion with words about the Hindi language.

“ ‘Chana’ means chick peas and ‘masala’ is a mixture of different kinds of spices,” she said. “It’s a very classic, traditional North Indian dish.”

Chana Masala mixes onions and tomatoes. “And a lovely blend of spices — ginger, garlic, cumin and coriander,” Seetharaman said. “It has a kick to it.”

She likes to serve the spicy, tangy chick pea dish with naan, a leavened, oven-baked flatbread that is also an Indian tradition. “You can also eat it with rice,” she said.

Chana Masala

(chick pea curry in tangy tomato-onion sauce)

1 can of chick peas

3 beefsteak tomatoes

1 red onion

2 to 3 cloves garlic

1⁄8 inch ginger

2 to 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1⁄2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1⁄2 teaspoon cumin powder

1⁄2 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon of garam masala powder (available in Indian grocery store)

1⁄2 cup water

4 ounces milk

5 to 6 whole cashews

Salt, to taste

Cilantro, for garnish

Purée the tomatoes, onion, ginger and garlic in a food processor or a blender. Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large nonstick frying pan. After the oil heats up, add 1⁄2 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds and the blended purée to the frying pan. Sauté till the purée turns brown and no longer sticks to the pan. This could take approximately 20-30 minutes.

Following this, add cumin, coriander and garam masala powders and cook for 5 more minutes. Rinse the chick peas from the can and add it to the frying pan. Mix 1⁄2 cup of water with the sautéed tomato-onion spice mixture and heat until the chick peas blend well with the tomato purée mixture.

In the meantime, make a paste out of the whole cashews and milk by soaking the cashews in the milk for 10 minutes and then crushing them with a vegetable masher or wooden spoon. The cashew paste is added to the chick peas to give a creamy consistency to the curry. Cook for 5 more minutes and garnish the dish with freshly chopped cilantro. Season with salt.

This dish is best served with fresh naan or rice.

 
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