Lazy But Crazy Good Chickpea Curry + Eggplant and Yogurt Salad

Let's start by introducing a spice you may not currently have in your rack - anardana, or ground, dried pomegranate seeds. A small box will set you back a dollar at most Indian markets and should stay fresh for 6 months if kept tightly sealed. Used throughout India and parts of the Middle East, anardana adds a sweet/sour note to sauces, chutneys, kabobs and curries. The refreshing flavor is an important part of this tangy chickpea curry you're gonna wanna make on hot summer nights; a speedy cooking time and almost no real prep makes this an ideal warm weather vegetarian entree. Serve with rice or bread and salad.

To make our Lazy Crazy Good Chickpea Curry (Pindi Chana/Chane) heat 2 T. vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 small red onion (finely diced) and 1 garlic clove (minced) and about 1 T. chopped ginger. Saute for 7 or 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are brown. Quickly add 1 t. coriander powder, 1 t. anardana powder, 1/2 t. garam masala, 1/2 t. cayenne pepper, salt to taste and 1 small hot green chili (minced). Stir constantly for 1 minute.

Mix into the skillet 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained. Add 1/2 cup of water and reduce heat to a low flame. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until about 50% of the water has been absorbed, leaving a thin but richly flavored sauce. For a more authentic consistency, mash 2 or 3 T. of chickpeas with a fork and stir to incorporate fully. Serve hot or warm with bread or rice.

Cafe Drake HRV loves this Eggplant and Yogurt Salad - a raita by any other name - alongside spicy bean curries or grilled sausages. Slice 1 large eggplant into halves, lengthwise, and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Make a few gashes across the eggplant halves and prick all over with a sharp knife to hasten cooking. Roast in a 400 degree F. oven, cut sides down, for about 30 minutes or until the eggplant's skin is crinkled and the flesh fully cooked. Allow to cool and then scrape flesh in to a mixing bowl. Discard the skin.

Add to the eggplant 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, 1/4 cup diced red onion, a pinch or two of ginger powder, 1 minced small green chili, at least 1/2 t. salt and a T. or two of minced cilantro. Mix very well and chill for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Just before serving sprinkle with 1/2 t. garam masala and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Also excellent as a dip with toasted pita wedges.


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