I had a hard time posting this recipe. When the smell of this curry fills the house, I forget everything else. I eventually managed to snap a picture on my phone with one hand, holding an impatient and hungry Justin back with the other hand.
The first time I had this curry dish, it was on a date with Justin. We met at twilight on the heights of Zürich, on our usual bench overlooking the lake and the valley. He had said he would take care of everything. I simply brought a book, beeswax candles and a matchbox. He came bearing a perilous stack of salad bowls and plates, and a very hot tiffin box. I lit the candles, he filled the plates with grated broccoli and cabbage salad on one side, smoky, warm chickpeas on the other. It remains to this day the best meal of my life. Simple but delicious. The next day, he dropped by my office to bring me a lunch-box with the remains of our dinner. I found that utterly romantic.
This is really Justin’s signature dish. When we have friends over for dinner, he batch-cooks a huge pot. It is always a great success. In winter, when it’s so cold outside, it’s absolutely divine. It is a spicy and warming dish, full of protein thus nourishing. We serve it with brown rice and the very symbolic grated cabbage and broccoli salad.
It is an indian chana masala or “chickpea curry”, which is traditionally made with white and black chickpeas. Here, we sub red kidney beans for the black chickpeas. I can’t seem to find organic black chickpeas anywhere! You need two different spice blends (masala): the classic garam masala and the chana masala, which is a special blend for chickpeas. I find them in an Indian grocery store, and both are absolutely necessary.
The recipe comes from this book, which adapts traditional Indian recipes to the use of a slow-cooker. We got rid of Justin’s slow cooker when he moved in with me. With a pressure cooker, it takes a fourth of the time to cook, but it is more likely to burn a little at the bottom: make sure there is enough liquid! I didn’t notice any difference in taste between the two methods, although the slow-cooker method is supposed to preserve nutrients. I actually have a hard time finding a new slow-cooker: it is not at all common in mainland Europe, it seems.
I hope you’ll want to give it a try. Finding the spice blends, especially the chana masala, can be tricky, but it is really worth the effort.
- 400 g dried chickpeas
- 400 g dried red kidney beans
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 400 ml tomato puree
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1tbsp coriander seeds, freshly ground
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp chana masala
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp unrefined sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 to 5 chilies, fresh or dried
- 1 knob fresh ginger, grated
1 day ahead, soak the legumes in a big bowl (at least 4 times as much water than legumes).
Drain and rinse. Put everything in your pressure cooker.
Add water, up to 3 to 4 cm above the level of the ingredients.
Pressure cook for 30 minutes after having reached peak pressure. Then let cook on medium heat, keeping the lid on.
Release the pressure. If need be, add more liquid and let simmer for one more hour on medium/low heat. The liquid must become really creamy and the beans cooked through.
Serve with rice.
Note: if using a slow-cooker, cook for 12 to 14 hours.