Monday, April 6, 2009

I Channa You Masala

A few weeks ago after a rather long meeting at work, I took a break on the sunny spring day to go to the Bookworm. I found Wallace's Infinite Jest but just wasn't satisfied until I made the entire bookstore staff turn the culinary department upside down looking for Orangette Molly's A Homemade Life. Once we had scoured the entire store to find the book, I couldn't very well not get it, could I? I was initially unsure about the book. There was a ridiculous amount of hype about it in the foodie blogosphere. But the cover was just so pretty. I've fully dug in and completely abandoned reading The Satanic Verses and ever picking up any sort of post-modern writing again, I swear. (Unless it's by Jonathon Safran Foer.) I love the book. Love it. I was reading it at lunch one day and actually started crying. Tears running down my cheeks. I had to go over and get a paper towel to dry my eyes. But funny thing, I hadn't run into anything I needed to make rightthissecond. I had been folding over the ears of the pages at the end of every single chapter, but I always do that and I never follow through. Until I came across the channa masala recipe. What I need from recipes these days is one that won't take long and one that doesn't require a separate trip to the grocer. What sealed the deal were these ingredients: fresh cilantro and garam masala. I had cilantro just sitting around the fridge after the salsa, waiting to be used on something besides a salad. And I had a bag of garam masala collecting dust in the back of my spice cabinet. Who has garam masala just lying around? I mean, I don't even know what that is. And just like Molly, this meal comes with it's own story. Unfortunately for me, mine is not accompanied with a cute boy sauteeing onions in my kitchen. My story is a touch more tragic. I had just been talking to someone, nary 24 hours prior to making the channa masala, about my partiality for chopping saying something like "the repetitive motion is therapeutic, and if you have a bad day, you can take it out on a bunch of vegetables, but I'm such a clutz it's a miracle I haven't severly injured myself." You can see where this is going. Instead of finely chopping the cilantro, I finely chopped my left index finger. I wanted to cry, but instead I just cursed all the way to the bathroom, ripping through the cupboard looking for some freaking bandaids and going through tissue upon tissue of blood-soaked toilet paper. Of course I was home alone, and of course my nurse mother was unable to answer her phone. I finally found an old T-shirt and paced around the living room until I was convinced I didn't need to go to the hospital to get stitches. (Have I mentioned I'm dramatic?) I finished off the rest of the meal with the T-shirt wrapped tightly around my finger. And no, blood didn't get into the cilantro. Molly's Channa Masala:
1/4 cup olive oil 1/2 large onion, chopped 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon coriander 1/2 teaspoon ginger 1 teaspoon garam masala 1/2 teaspoon cardamom 2 garlic cloves, minced salt 2 14-ounce can diced tomatoes 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro finger (just kidding) dash cayenne pepper 2 14-ounce can chickpeas On medium heat, saute onion until soft-ish, about 5 minutes. Toss on the spices then add the garlic and saute for another minute. Add 1/4 cup water, bring to boil and simmer until its just about evaporated. Add the tomato juice from the cans of diced tomatoes. Simmer for a couple minutes then add the tomatoes and cilantro. Boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the drained and rinsed chickpeas along with 1/4 cup of water. Boil and reduce to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until chickpeas are tender but firm to the bite. Halfway through add another couple tablespoons of water. Serve garnished with cilantro. Molly recommends serving with plain yogurt or lime.


Shannalee said...

Oh, gosh! So your finger is OK? Thank goodness! Scary!

(PS - Glad you love the book. It's a favorite!)

Lainey Seyler said...

the finger has just about healed. just about. and i finished the book about three minutes ago, which is unfortunate because i didn't want it to end. (people don't say that about proust.)