One of the reasons I have a lot more recipes to share these days is that Rob eats more than me. Boys need their food. That means that when we cook for each other, I need to make enough that will last us both in the leftover department.
Rob cooks for me as well, and sometimes I not-so-casually suggest recipes that we might both enjoy. A few key ingredients make Rob’s belly rumble…. tamarind, coconut, broccoli (not raw), tempeh, mango and pineapple, to name a few… If it is anything Indian or Thai, Rob will also most likely enjoy it.
I had initially bookmarked this minty-tamarind chickpea dal when I spotted it on Joanne’s blog because I was looking for Indian food for those who don’t like curries. It is originally from World Vegetarian, with the original recipe posted here. With our bountiful herbs, including a few gigantic mint plants, I figured this would a great recipe to try, especially since I had chana dal. However, split yellow peas could also be used.
But instead of making it myself, I suggested Rob give it a go since he felt out of the kitchen loop this week. It had been on my menu for a few weeks, but it had gotten the shaft to non-Indian meals instead. I knew Rob wouldn’t shun it that long.
The delightful part, though, is that Rob made this for himself. He doesn’t like mint in savoury dishes, so he only used half a cup of fresh mint. I would have used the whole cup. He also used 3 (deseeded) volcanic peppers from our garden. I would have substituted Aleppo chili flakes. Rob halved the oil, which I would have done, too (youpee!).
I came home after a long car ride from Ottawa, famished, and this was cooling on the stove. I dug in before Rob had even tasted it. I was warned about the chili peppers, but I plunged in anyhow. It was love at first bite.
This was a creamy, sweet/tart, slightly zippy chickpea dish. You could barely taste the mint but it was lovely with the tanginess from the tamarind.
And those chilis? Without the seeds, there was a zip but it wasn’t overtly spicy. It was a cleaner spice, more penetrant. Aleppo is usually more smoky and sultry. I could handle it. Now I know I can am not such a chili wimp after all.
Chickpeas and Chana dal Cooked Together in a Tamarind-Mint Sauce
1.5 cups dried chickpeas, picked over, washed, and drained
3/4 cups chana dal or yellow split peas, picked over, washed, and drained
1 tbs peeled and finely chopped garlic
1 tbs finely chopped ginger
3 fresh hot green chiles (seeds removed), finely chopped [we used 3 deseeded red volcanic peppers]
1/2-1 cup mint leaves, packed, washed, and coarsely chopped (we used 1/2 cup and this wasn’t minty, so you could use more)
2 tbsp canola oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1/2 lb very ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2.5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp ground coriander
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala
3 tbs thick tamarind paste (or fresh lemon juice), to taste
1. Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water to cover by about 5 inches. Drain, discarding the soaking liquid.
2. In a large pot, bring the chickpeas and 7 cups of water to a boil. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 1 hour. Skim off any chickpea skins that may be floating on the top. Add the chana dal or split peas to the pot, cover, and continue simmering for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the chickpeas and chana dal are tender. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, combine the garlic, ginger, green chiles, and mint leaves in the container of a blender. Add 6 to 8 tablespoons of water as needed and blend, pushing down the mixture with a rubber spatula several times, until pureed. Set the minty mixture aside.
4. Heat the oil in a wide, medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and stir and fry until they are a rich, reddish brown. Add the tomatoes. Stir and cook until the tomatoes reduce and darken and the oil begins to show at the sides of the pan. Add the green spice paste and stir over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas and their cooking liquid, then stir in the salt, coriander, cumin, garam masala, and tamarind paste, mixing thoroughly. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
5. Serve warm with a side of rice or naan.