Sri Lankan-style chickpeas for Lisa

I’ve created this dish especially for a blogging event run by a one of my favourite bloggers, Lisa from Lisa’s Kitchen. The event is No Croutons Required, and the this month’s topic is chickpeas. I really wanted to take part, partly because I haven’t in ages, and partly because I really love chickpeas myself. After a bit of thought, I decided to adapt one of my favourite veggie Sri Lankan recipe, varar, adding caramelised shallots, coriander and lemon juice. The result is a gorgeous warm salad of chickpeas flavoured with caramelised shallots, curry leaves, coconut and lemon juice that goes great with many Indian and Sri Lankan dishes, and it’s also delicious on its own as a snack. I love it. I hope Lisa will like it, too.

A note on chickpeas. I really notice a difference in flavour between tinned and dried chickpeas, and for me, this is one instance when it’s worth taking the time to soak and cook the chickpeas. They’re so much nicer like that! I can even eat them as popcorns after they’ve just been cooked – they really are delicious. But if you really really can’t be bothered, then next time you’re in your favourite Asian supermarket, pick up a tin of East End brand of chickpeas. They’re the tastiest ones I’ve found. Still, for hummus and falafel, I’d soak and cook my own chickpeas.

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Sri-Lankan-style chickpeas

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Sri-Lankan-style chickpeas salad

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SOURCE:  Inspired by Jasmine’s varar

PREPARATION TIME: 2 min, if the chickpeas are ready

COOKING TIME: 5 – 10 min, again, if you’re not soaking your own chickpeas

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 1 as a salad, 2 as a small side dish

 

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INGREDIENTS:

a little vegetable oil

2 medium shallots, halved and then sliced thinly

1 green finger chilli 

a small handful of (preferably fresh) curry leaves

a little salt

1 tsp tempering spices (a mixture of brown/black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds – see Sri Lankan spices for recipe)

a pinch of turmeric

1 cup of chickpeas (cooked, or tinned)

a handful of desiccated  coconut

fresh lime juice to taste

1 heaped tsp chopped coriander leaves

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METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a wok (or frying pan) and add the shallots and the chili. When the shallots start going brown, throw in the curry leaves and a little salt. Stir and cook until the shallots are completely caramelised. Then, remove half of the mixture and set aside. (This will be sprinkled on top when the dish is done).
  • Return the pan to the heat, and add the tempering spices and turmeric. Stir.
  • Add the chickpeas to the pan, and a couple of tbs of water (or chickpeas soaking water), and warm the chickpeas through. Then in goes the coconut and a pinch of salt. Stir it and cook for 30 s, again until it’s warmed through.
  • Just before serving, add lemon or lime juice, chopped coriander and some more salt if needed. Sprinkle with the remaining shallots and serve. Enjoy!

 

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More Sri Lankan food at Maninas:

 

The aroma of curry leaves: Sri Lankan cooking (Introduction)

Sri Lankan spices (including recipes for Sri Lankan garam masala, curry powder and more!)

Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and leek with coconut (V)

Sri Lankan coconut dhal (V)

Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry (V)

Sri Lankan Fish Curry (Meen Kulambu)

Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets

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And more chickpeas recipes:

My version of Catalan chick peas with tomatoes and almonds (V) – This is a must-try, with its delicious flavours of saffron, garlic, tomatoes, almonds and coriander!

My Moroccan-inspired chickpeas  (V)

Chana Masala (V) for RCI Punjab

Chana masala from scratch (V) – No shop bought spice mixes!

 

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I’m also submitting this post to to MLLA-21 hosted by Mirch Masala, and started by Susan, The Well Seasoned Cook.

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Coconut Lamb Curry

Here is a really special Indian dish that I wanted to share with you in a long time. I’m sharing it now, to celebrate my return! It’s like a kind of Indian-style rendang: moist morsels of lamb coated in thick meaty sauce and coconut. It is deeeelicious! So flavoursome, and such fun to eat. I love the lamb pieces wrapped in roti, or with some other nice bread. In any case, you’ve got to eat this with your hands!

This curry is based on a recipe by Anjum Anand from her Indian Food Made Easy BBC series. I changed (upped) the spicing to suit my tastes, and added a South-Indian touch with curry leaves, dried red chillies and mustard seeds. Basically, the lamb is cooked with spices until the meat is tender, and the sauce is well reduced. Then, you sprinkle toasted grated coconut in (fresh or desiccated), and coat the lamb. Yes, it takes time to cook it, but it requires little attention, and it’s really worth it. The first time I made it, I totally forgot about it and spent 2 hours on the phone to a friend, but miraculously, it didn’t burn, and it didn’t harm it all. Next time I was more careful, but it was equally good.

Our camera issues haven’t been resolved yet, so no pics this time, sorry. We’re in a long and slow process of choosing a new camera. Possibly, hopefully, a DSLR!

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Coconut Lamb Curry

 

SOURCE:  Based on a recipe from Anjum Anad’s Indian Food Made Easy

PREPARATION TIME: about 5 min

COOKING TIME: about 2 h 40 min

CUISINE: Indian

SERVES: 4 as a side dish, or 2 – 3 as a main

 

INGREDIENTS:

50 g desiccated coconut

2 tbsp ghee

3 dried red chillies

2 – 3 sprigs of fresh curry leaves

a pinch of black mustard seeds

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cm ginger, grated

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/3 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes

salt to taste

500 g boneless lamb, diced

200 g water

1/2 tsp garam masala

 

METHOD:

I. Toast the desiccated coconut in a non-stick pan until a little past golden, and set a side. This will take a minute or two, so watch it!

II. 1. Heat the oil in a wide pan (I love to use my wide and shallow Le Creuset pan, but any thick-bottomed pan will do, with good non-stick properties if possible.). You’ll know it’s hot enough when you put a spoon in it and it starts sizzling. Then add the dried chilies, mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, put the lid on. When they stop, add the onions and cook them until they start going golden. Next, add the ginger and garlic, and then cook the mixture until onions are well browned.

2. Now add the chilli powder and turmeric. Stir, and add the tomatoes and salt. Cook this until the oil starts oozing out, separating from the tomato and onion mixture, glossy and beautiful.

3. Now you’re ready to add the meat. Brown the meat in the pan with the onion mixture for a few minutes, add water, and bring to boil. Then cover and simmer on a low heat for about 50 min, or until the lamb is tender. I love to cook it even longer, until it’s melt-in-the-mouth soft. Check the lamb occasionally and add more water if it starts sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the lamb is done, uncover and continue cooking, stirring often, until any excess water has evaporated.

4. When there is only a bit of liquid left coating the lamb, sprinkle in the garam masala, check the seasoning, and then stir in the coconut. Serve with roti or some other nice bread, with a few veg side dishes if you want. Enjoy every morsel! And let me know how you got on.

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For the winter blues: Sri Lankan coconut dhal

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Hello! How are you, how’s the world at your end? Here in the UK, we’re cocooned in layers of snow of varying thickness, depending on where you are. When I was coming home tonight, around 6.30 pm, I felt this thick layer of snow under my feet is starting to freeze. I wonder what we’ll wake up to tomorrow. As idyllic as it all looks, us Mediterranean types are not faring to well in these conditions. All I want to do is hibernate until the sun shines back on us again. But though I refuse to believe it, the life goes on. There are jobs to do, people to see, dinners to cook… Yes… Dinners… Here’s what kept me awake and re-energised me this evening. Remember that delicious Sri Lankan dhal I was telling you about earlier? Here’s the recipe. Without the photos for now, until my camera awakes from its winter sleep. (I meant to take photos this evening, but my camera failed me.)

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This dhal is a serious contender for the title of my favourite dhal, so far held by the seductive Bengali Red Dal. It has a rich gutsy flavour of red lentils cooked with onion, garlic, chillies, and cumin and black pepper, imbued with the heady aroma of curry leaves, and with a squeeze of lime to heighten your senses. I normally prefer to eat my dhal on the same day I make it, but this one I find improves with time. That is if you can stay away from it and leave some for tomorrow. I’m proud to day that this time I managed to do just that. Not even I can eat this much dhal at one sitting!

Let not the long list of ingredients intimidate you. This dhal is really very easy to make, and you can leave it to look after itself while you’re doing something else. Like making Sri Lankan coconut rotis, for example. Yes, that’s a good thing to do. (Recipe coming soon.) 

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Sri Lankan coconut dhal

 

SOURCEJasmine’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: under 5 min

COOKING TIME: about 45 min

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 3 – 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of red lentils

1/4 red (medium to large) onions, or 2 shallots

2 large cloves of garlic, sliced

3 green chillies, roughly chopped

a handful of fresh curry leaves, shredded

1/3 tsp turmeric

2/3 tsp roughly ground cumin and black pepper mixture

1 scant tsp of fenugreek seeds

1/5 – 1/4 can of coconut milk

Juice of 1/2 lime, or more to taste

3 – 4 dried red chillies

salt to taste

a handful of (preferably fresh) curry leaves

1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee

1 tbsp tempering spices (mixture of brown/black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds – see Sri Lankan spices for recipe)

1 1/2 tbsp fried onions (or 3 – 4 shallots, shredded and then fried as below)

 

METHOD:

Place the lentils in about 2 – 3 cups of water. Then chop the chillies, onions, garlic, shred the curry leaves and add them to the lentils, together with turmeric, fenugreek and the cumin and black pepper mixture. Boil together until the lentils turn soft.

When the lentils are soft, add the coconut milk and stir through.

Before you’re ready to eat, prepare the tadka or tempering for the dhal. I usually don’t have fried onions at hand, so this is what I do. I heat the oil and then add the chillies and the curry leaves to it. when the curry leaves are starting to turn crisp, I pop in the onions/shallots, and cook them until they’re almost copper brown. Then add a few more curry leaves (if you want, which I invariably do), and the tempering spices. Stir for 10 s or until they release their fragrance. Now pop the contents of the pan into the lentil mixture, reserving perhaps some for the garnish. Stir, put the lid back on, and leave it for a minute or two for the flavours to mingle and make friends.

Don’t forget the lime. I sometimes add it before adding the tadka to the lentils, and sometimes after the tadka. Either way, don’t leave it out. It really does make all the difference.

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More dhals from this blog:

Bengali Red Dhal

Minty dhal (2 versions of  recipe)

 

Also:

More recipes with beans and lentils

More Sri Lankan recipes

 

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We’re at the 8th helping of My Legume Love Affair hosted and organised by the talented Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. This is my entry for the event.  

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