Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chickpeas and Oreos: MaryMary cannot live on cake alone

Clockwise from top left: asafoetida, turmeric and dried Korean peppers, fresh cayenne chile, ground cumin, and black mustard seeds

When I look at my blog posts, it looks like I only eat dessert, and mostly cake. That is somewhat true, but I do eat savoury food at least once a day. Sometimes twice! It's just that it's usually dark before I even start making dinner, so I have a hard time getting photos, and I don't find main courses as photogenic as dessert. At least not when I'm taking the pictures! Now that the days are getting longer, I have no excuse, and never mind for now the fact that I finish work by 3 and am often home before 4. Earlier this week, I made one of my favourite dishes: Easy Karnataka Chana, which is a chickpea dal. This is quick and easy, and means you can have homemade Oreos for dessert. It's from Mangoes and Curry Leaves by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, a couple based in Toronto who are travelers, cooks, writers and photographers. Their books are beautiful, and have won numerous awards.

Easy Karnataka Chana
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight, or for at least 4 hours in 4 cups water
4¼ cups water, plus up to 3 cups more if serving as a soup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 green cayenne chilis, minced (1 used 3 red ones)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (I am very generous here)
pinch of asafoetida powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (I had some Korean chile powder, so I used that)
about 1½ teaspoons salt
about ½ cup chopped cilantro/coriander leaves (I use closer to a cup, but don't measure)

Drain the chickpeas and place them in a food processor with ¼ cup water, the cumin and the chilis. Process for 20 seconds, scrape the sides and process for 10-20 more seconds. They should be coarse. I usually don't bother to chop the chilis, and end up with more finely chopped chickpeas by the time they are chopped. Be sure to leave some texture--you don't want a smooth paste.

In a deep heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds and cover until they stop popping. Quickly add the asafoetida, turmeric and cayenne and stir. Pour in the chickpea mixture--it will spatter a bit. Stir-fry for a minute to expose all the chickpeas to the hot oil.

Add the remaining 4 cups water and stir to blend well. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the chickpeas are cooked through, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. If serving as a soup, add the extra 3 cups water and bring to a boil.

Add the salt and bring to a simmer for a few more minutes. This may seem like a lot of salt, and I thought it was too much the first time I made it, but after a few minutes simmering it's perfect. Start with 1 teaspoon if you're unsure.

Stir in the chopped coriander and serve. I like this with basmati rice, and make a meal out of it. It keeps and reheats really well, but it will get thicker, so you can add water when reheating if you like.

And for dessert:

I've been thinking about making homemade Oreos ever since I saw the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, and then when I loved the homemade graham crackers I made in January, I knew I had to try it. But when? The perfect opportunity appeared the other night: I was having dinner at O's house, and the Ottawa Senators were up 1-0 in their playoff series with Pittsburgh. I took this as a sign that it was time to make the cookies, and it also meant that I wouldn't show up both late and empty-handed. It was also a nice excuse to get silly with cookie cutters again. 

I made this recipe, and used the lower amount of sugar. The first time I followed the recipe and made them as a drop cookie, but they were too thick for sandwich cookies, I thought. They were delicious, though, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting rid of them. I formed the leftover dough into a cylinder, chilled it, and then sliced thinly and baked as directed. The only other change I made was to replace the shortening in the filling with butter, because I didn't need to be that authentic, and I knew melting wouldn't be a problem in the chilly, wet weather we've been having. The filling was very rich, but Oreo perfect. Don't be tempted to slather it on too thick (like I did).

I must admit, I almost wanted to keep these at home instead of bringing them to O's place for dinner. Yes, they were that fantastic. I'll be making a few more tomorrow for J, and to bring the Sens luck!



Laurie {Simply Scratch} said...

So creative!!

Valérie said...

Lol, when I first read your title, I thought you had made something that included chickpeas and oreos together!

The chana looks delicious, and the oreos are adorable!

Ago said...

yeah...I think that you cannot live on cake alone...but I love cakes and your oreos....I would try them! :-D

judy said...

ooooo those are some good coookies!

misterrios said...

Oh! Oh! That O in the middle is such a wonderful idea. They look amazing!

kellypea said...

I'm with you on the whole, "it's evening and do I really want to take photos?" thing lately. Your Karnataka Chana looks fabulous (we have just enjoyed wonderful Indian spiced food for the 2nd night). I wouldn't pass up those cute cookies, either.