As promised, here is the recipe for my chana masala (chickpeas curry) and rajma (red kidney beans), made entirely from scratch!
As I said, I was loosely inspired by the ingredients list on the MDH chana masala box (I’ve long stopped using it though). The basis of the dish is made of browned red onions, garlic, ginger and green chili, spiced with a combination of whole and powdered spices. I’ve read somewhere that the difference between whole and powdered spices is like the difference between high and low notes: think high notes when using whole, and low when using powdered spices. Of course, quantities matter, too. The coriander stand out a little, as I’ve added 1 1/2 tsp of it. That’s how I like it. The dish is finished off with a sprinkle of garam masala to round the flavours, and some amchoor to add the sour tones that I’m so addicted to, and to heighten the other flavours.
(The photos are of rajma only, though!
Rajma – Punjabi Red Kidney Bean curry
Spice Tip – Coriander powder
Coriander powder does not burn easily. You can add it first among the powdered spices.
Techniques – Slicing onions
This is how I like slicing my onions. They look gorgeous when cooking, and cook rather evenly; another advantage is that I find it quicker than chopping onions as it takes no time to do it. Also, it does need a chopping board!
Take the sharpest small knife that you’ve got. Of course, you can use a bigger one, but it’s easier to use a small one. Also, the sharper, the better! Peel the onion, and cut it half, removing the hard end at the top where the little moustache used to be. Now, start slicing the onion thinly, creating thin semicircles of onion rings. That’s it!
Techniques – FRYING ONIONS to make Indian food
See this web page: Cooking Indian: How to fry onions.
Chana Masala Perfected
SOURCE: ingredients loosely based on MDH chana masala box
PREPARATION TIME: 5 min
COOKING TIME: 45 min
CUISINE: North Indian – Punjabi
SERVES: 2 (as a main, 3 – 4 as a part of an Indian meal)
2 medium red onions, sliced
1 1/2 tbsp ghee
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 – 4 cm ginger, peeled and chopped
3 – 4 green chilies
1 bay leaf
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
2 green cardamoms, slightly crushed
a pinch of fenugreek seeds (about 1/2 tsp)
4 – 5 cm cassia bark
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 – 3/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 can tomatoes
a pinch of sugar (optional; I use it to tame the sourness of the tomato)
1 can chickpeas, or the equivalent amount of dried, soaked and cooked chickpeas
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder)
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1. Heat the ghee to high medium heat, and add bay leat and cumin to it. Fry the onions, until they start to brown, following the instructions here. (This is important; please take some time to read the instructions.)
2. When the onions start turning dark brown/purple, add garlic, ginger and chilies. Now add cardamoms, fenugreek and cassia bark. Fry further until the onions are dark brown, taking care not to burn them.
3. Now it’s time to add the powdered spices: add the coriander first and fry for a few seconds, then add the paprika, turmeric, cumin and chili. Fry for another 10 – 15 seconds.
4. Stir in the tomatoes and a pinch of sugar (optional). Cook until the mixture is thickened, preferably until the oil starts oozing at the top, which normally takes 10 – 15 min. This will give it the best flavour.
5. Add the chickpeas, and cook for another 10 min.
6. Just before serving, stir in the garam masala, amchoor and coriander leaves. Serve with rice. Enjoy!
I think I can now throw the MDH masala away! This is so much better! Especially when made with dried and soaked chickpeas, whose flavour is absolutely superior to the canned ones!
To Make Rajma
Use the same quantity of rajma (red kidney beans) instead of the chickpeas.
Others’ chana masala recipes: Nabeela’s Chana Masala without the shop bought spice mixChana masala from Lisa’s KitchenHow to make your own chana masala powderMahanandi’s Chana MasalaMeena’s Chana Masala, and a lesson on legumesAnother Meena’s Chana Masala, garnished with a funny storyBarbara’s Chana Masala Sailu’s Chole Masala with PuriAnita’s Punjabi Chhole_____________________________________________________
Other recipes with chick peas at Maninas: My version of Catalan chick peas with tomatoes and almonds . VThis is a must-try, with its delicious flavours of saffron, garlic, tomatoes, almonds and coriander!My Moroccan-inspired chickpeas VChana Masala for RCI Punjab ______________________________________________________