Tamarind Chickpea and Greens Curry
The oldest “fun fact” there is, but nevertheless true, it is amazing how closely tied our sense of smell is to our memories.
Vindaloo and masala were all my family and I ate during a week-long trip to London a few years back. It was the first time that I had been introduced to Indian Cuisine, and I badly needed to make up for lost time. Pearlie, the padres and I sat in the same booth of a basement restaurant night after night on that trip. It was our newly-found all-time favorite restaurant and we weren’t about to not wear her out.
Wear her out we did. Something happened down there in that basement. We found ourselves in fits of obstreperous, loud American laughter; the type that only a group of people who know each other wholly can share. Whether it was the blend of turmeric, ginger, and garam masala in our dishes, the heavenly smell of warmth and spice wafting from the kitchen, or the lovely demeanor of the staff who were befuddled as to why we were such devoted patrons; Â the scent of such spices always bring my family and I comfort, and transports us right back to our silly fits of ridiculous ludicrousness.
This recipe does the job perfectly. It is simple to make and even better the second day when the flavors meld together. Originally a Sunset Magazine recipe, we have been making it a bunch, tweaking it here and there and amping up the spices.
One such ingredient that is gaining more and more recognition in Western kitchens, Tamarind boasts a wealth of health benefits. With a long history of medicinal uses in Eastern Medicine, Tamarind eases intestinal discomfort and aids in digestion and inflammation. It is usually sold in the form of a paste. To ensure purity of the ingredient, read the packaging and only purchase tamarind paste sans additives.
Tamarind Chickpea Curry
Note: for any curry that includes chopped garlic and ginger, I add them to my small food processor and process together (it smells incredible after).
- 1/3 cup of grapeseed oil, or other neutral, high heat oils
- 2-3 medium onions chopped
- 4 chopped garlic cloves
- 2 tbs. chopped ginger
- 4 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 tbs. cumin
- 3 tbs. garam masala
- 1 tbs. turmeric
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 4 tbs. tamarind paste
- 3 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed or 4 1/2 cups of chickpeas
- salt and pepper
In a large pot over medium high heat, combine and cook the oil and onions, stirring only occasionally for 15-20 minutes until the onions are well browned (I nearly caramelize mine). Just when the onions are starting to brown, add the carrots, ginger and garlic and continue to cook.
Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the spices (cumin, garam masala, tumeric, cayenne, tamarind paste, salt and pepper) to coat the onion mixture and continue to stir for 2 minutes. Then add the chickpeas, reduce the heat to low and cover to let the flavors meld. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve atop the Greens Curry.
Recipes adapted from Sunset Magazine.
Serves 4 – 6
This is a simple cooked greens curry, but includes a bit of sugar to balance the tartness of the tamarind in the Tamarind Chickpea curry.
- 1/4 cup of coconut oil or grapeseed oil
- 3 lbs. of greens, rinsed and chopped (I used kale, but have used a mixture of swiss chard and collards before. Also, I didn’t bother de-stemming.)
- 2 tbs. cumin
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 tbs. of ginger, chopped (see the note in Tamarind chickpeas about processing ginger and garlic)
- 2 tbs. tumeric
- 1/4 c. of brown sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot on medium heat, melt the coconut oil, then add the cumin, garlic and ginger and fry until lightly cooked, about 30 seconds. Then add in the tumeric and brown sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add half of the greens to the pot, stirring to coat them in the spice mixture. After they have wilted a bit, add the rest of the greens and stir again. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the greens are tender, about 8 minutes. Then add the lid to the pot and cook for another 2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste and serve with the Tamarind Chickpea Curry.