Warning: Immediately after eating this dish, you might want to not make it for at least another week.
[Skip the intro, I’m rambling, as usual]
Do you realise that the most popular, classic dishes are often invented by broke-ass hippies in their kitchens with minimal ingredients, trying to make something edible? And does it occur to you that they don’t reach edible on the first attempt, or the second, or even a third? I presume it took a lot of acrid-tasting, questionable food groups and a heavy process of elimination to stumble upon a recipe that, unknowingly, could rewrite culinary history.
What I’m trying to say it that we are the lost stoners of the 21st century, stumbling around Adulthood like ugly versions of Bambi, staring blankly at our fridges for five minutes straight before heading back to our rooms for no particular reason. The older generations don’t tell us, but most of “your mom’s special curry” or “your ancestors’ secret recipe passed through generations” began with them randomly putting shit in a pot, adding salt and hoping for the best because those damned guests didn’t tell us they were coming over, were they?
See: the invention of butter chicken – an Indian classic – on wikipedia.
And the final product turned out pretty great! So much so that entire cultures are founded upon them. I learned this the relatively hard way – of course – one evening, when I had an arbitrary assortment of canned foods and the idea that I needed to follow a fixed recipe to make edible lunch. By that point I had given up on edible and almost resorted to eating a bag of crisps for dinner when my phone rang like a blessing in the disguise of my brilliant but mildly terrifying aunt.
She told me about this… thing... she made when she too, faced a predicament similar to mine. Fortunately, she’s smart and experienced and didn’t waste time sitting on the floor of her corridor trembling at her failures at being independent, and quickly found a solution to her problems.
Here is a photo of said solution:
(okay, fuck, no. I don’t have a photo. But I’ll add it later. It turns out this isn’t an original recipe, so if you wanna try someone else’s chickpea-tomato concoction that they pulled out of their asses, click here. His name is Rob and he gave up on his blog about 8 years ago. Let’s see how long I last.)
It tastes… Okay. So. When you’re absolutely famished, I can assure you it tastes fantastic, and I have my family to back me up on it. Otherwise, I would give it an above-average rating; B- if you will.
This dish doesn’t have a name, and no particular way to describe it, but I’m happy to take suggestions. Here’s the recipe, courtesy of my life-saving aunt.
Prep time: No clue.
Cooking time: It took me 20-ish minutes, it took my aunt 40. But she is patient and actually cares about how her food tastes so.
Serves: 4 humans, no seconds.
- 1 can (230 g) of chickpeas
- 1 small pack of tomato puree or 1-2 tomatoes, chopped in whatever fashion you prefer. This depends on how tomato-ey you want your dish to be.
- 3 tablespoons of yogurt. Or more. Again, depends on how sour you want it to taste. Any kind of yogurt is fine. If you don’t have yogurt, cream is also okay, but you’re closer to cardiac arrest because of it.
- A handful or more of spinach – totally optional. I like having greens because it makes me feel good about myself.
- Onions? If you want? I don’t know
- 2 cloves of garlic or the equivalent in garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Some cooking oil
- Some Turmeric powder*
- Some red-chili powder*
- 1 bay leaf*
- A few cumin seeds*
- 1 – 2 green or red chilies, cut however*
- Lil’ bit of butter*
*This shit is optional. It all depends on your tastes, and if you forego them, no one will judge you.
(Wrong. I will judge you and your weak-ass palette.)
How to do the thing:
- First, if you don’t have canned chickpeas, soak your fresh, good-for-your-health ones overnight. The whole point of this recipe was to be quick and dirty, so having non-canned stuff doesn’t really serve the purpose, but hey, you do you.
- In a large-ish pan, put some oil on medium-high heat and wait until it’s hot.
- Add your cumin seeds, chilies, bayleaf and garlic and saute until you think it’s juuuust about to burn.
- Add your onions? Do you even want onions? I don’t recall using it, but it can’t do any more damage, amiright? Onion powder is a choice too. A bad one, but whatever.
- Then, add your chickpeas. If it’s canned, keep the gross liquid stuff that come’s with it. If it’s fresh, add about half a glass of water. Mix it well with your spices, put in your turmeric powder, chili powder, salt and pepper and keep mixing for about 5 minutes.
- Do you want ginger? Grate a little and add it if you want a clean digestive system as a compensation for your tainted conscience.
- Put in the tomato puree/chopped tomatoes and spinach and mix well for another 10 minutes. Ensure your dish has enough liquid to make it look like a sauce. Add more water if there isn’t and compensate with your spices accordingly.
- Finally, add your yogurt/cream and butter, mix well and put a lid on the pan to simmer on medium for another 10-15 minutes.
- Keep taste-testing. Remember, this dish is all you. Everyone’s chickpea-that-doesn’t-taste-like-shit will be different.
- Whenever you think it’s done, switch off your stove (the chickpeas need to be chew-able. That is a fixed criteria, you heathen). Serve with rice, rotis, bread or as a soup.
The yogurt is the winner in this dish. People underestimate cold, curdled milk but it is a powerful source good bacteria that tricks you into eating “rich food”
Was this too complex? I hope not. If you don’t have all ingredients, you can simply skip half the steps. Hell, you probably don’t have to even go in that order, and steps 4 and 6 are completely unnecessary, but I’m presenting all possible options for you.
Also, I wasn’t kidding about naming it. Puns will hold first priority, of course.