Friday, October 8, 2010

The chickpea is neither a chick nor a pea. Discuss.

One of my favorite Mike Myers skits on SNL - Coffee Talk with Linda Richman.  Hmmm...possibly showing my age here.

Chickpeas are one of my favorite pantry staples.  I keep both canned and dried chickpeas on hand for quick go to meals.  Chickpeas are very close to a perfect food item. Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are a low fat, high fiber, high protein snack. They are also low in sodium if you make them yourself (the canned chick peas may have some added salt, but I've seen some low sodium varieties lately). They are also a good source of calcium.

Last night I was testing a dried fava bean recipe that um...turned out less than perfect.  After a few choice words and calming down by T, I moved on to making "something" else.  I highly dislike wasting food and good ingredients at that, but that's another blog.    Lately, I've been  good about using what I have in my pantry before going to the store to stock up -- I looked around knowing ingredients were scarce.  After a few glances at my pantry I found a can of organic chickpeas, diced tomatoes, and half pound of Orzo pasta.  In my veggie bin I had garlic, onions, cilantro, ginger.  I decided on making quick and easy Indian Chickpea dishes.  On second though, its not actually a recipe; its more aptly be described as a guideline, as there is a lot of room for personal experimentation. I really like to experiment with food, be my guest to do the same.

Here is an excellent traditional recipe created by my sister's favorite YouTube Channel/ Cook Manjula:

Huge Thank you to Manjula for allowing me to link to her great video.

As you can see from the video the original recipe is easy to make and follow.  There are many versions of this recipe if you search online.  Here was last night's version:

Chana Masala - Spicy Chickpea
Total Time: 15 minutes

1 can chickpeas
1 can chopped tomatoes or sauce if you prefer
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small piece of gingers (1 inch) - grated, chopped, jarred (whatever is easiest for you)
2 cloves garlic - roughly chopped
1 large onion chopped
1 tablespoon Garam Masala
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes - I used a tablespoon worth - adjust to your taste
1 teaspoon Turmeric 
1 lime cut into wedges
bunch of cilantro (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste


Heat the olive oil in a medium sized skillet - on medium high.  Add chili flakes, garlic, onions, ginger and spices.  Saute until onions are soft. Drain and rinse chickpeas.  Add chickpeas, tomatoes, and cook for 5-10 minutes.

While the Chana Masala is cooking, bring two quarts of water and 1 large pinch of salt to a boil.  Dump in 1/4 package of Orzo and cook for 6-8 minutes.  Drain and toss with lime juice and cilantro.

Serve the Chana Masala with the Cilantro lime orzo.  Traditionally, this is served with steamed white basmati rice or bread.

Please excuse the photo as it was taken with my Blackberry Camera!

 Here is a quick and easy recipe for Garam Masala:

2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander 
2 tablespoons ground cardamom
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon saffron (optional)

Transfer the mixture to an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Garam Masala keeps for 3 months.

Yield: Makes about 1/2 cup


  1. Coffee Talk with Mike Myers - sounds like a hilarious segment. This looks like an excellent chickpea dish, and I bet there are plenty of leftovers.

  2. Plenty of leftovers for sure! And just like anything made with tomatoes and garlic it taste even better the next day.