Chickpea Curry

A curry is a curry is a curry, or so I thought. My arsenal of weeknight recipes contained two curries: eggplant for summer and squash for winter. I’m excited to add this recipe as my third, but certainly not final, curry.

As I was paging through a new cooking magazine (a gift subscription from Glenn’s grandma), I was drawn to a recipe for chicken vindaloo. I took a closer look to see how it differed from my other curries and saw an odd ingredient — red wine vinegar. I couldn’t imagine how that would taste in the final dish, so of course I had to try it.

I adapted the recipe so that I could make it with items I had on hand, but kept the spices more or less the same. The vinegar gives the curry a fruity, full-mouth flavor and acts as a nice complement to the heat. Instead of chicken, I used chickpeas and carrots. I think potatoes would have been great in this dish as well.

Chickpea Curry
Serves 4
½ pound dry chickpeas
1 cinnamon stick
1½ Tbs. curry powder
2 tsp. paprika
4 Tbs. red wine vinegar
olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. minced ginger
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
1 carrot, sliced thin
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
cilantro, chopped

To cook chickpeas: Put dry chickpeas and cinnamon stick in a slow cooker and cover with 2-3 inches of water. Set on high heat and cook until tender, 3-4 hours. Drain.

To prepare curry: Combine curry powder, paprika, and vinegar in a small bowl. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add ginger and garlic, saute 1 minute. Add onion and carrot, saute until tender, 3-5 minutes. Stir in spices and chickpeas. Add tomatoes with juice and simmer until mixture is heated through. Serve with rice and garnish with cilantro.

 

Saffron (Greensboro NC)

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When we moved to Greensboro, Glenn and I weren’t just on a quest for tacos. We were also looking for falafel, curry, pad kee mao, sushi, bi bim bap, and all sorts of other things to satisfy our cravings. In this case, our search for one led to another. While Taste of Thai was kind of a bust, it did lead us to its neighbor Saffron.

When Glenn and I had dinner at Saffron for the first time, we expected the same cheesy atmosphere as its strip mall neighbor. We were pleasantly surprised to find art deco style tiles, rich and vibrant orange walls, white tablecloths, and candlelight. The service and the food were as upscale as the appearance — and so was the bill.

That’s why I decided to try the lunch buffet during the work week. I invited a foodie friend who, I found out later, doesn’t actually like buffets. Lucky for her (and for all of us), the meat was as tender and the vegetables as crisp as what Glenn and I ordered from the menu for dinner. Saffron may not offer as many dishes as other buffets, but none of their dishes are scummy, wilted, or dry. The buffet usually includes pokora, naan, basmati rice, tandori chicken, about two vegetarian entrees, and about two meat entrees.

Saffron Indian Cuisine is located in Greensboro on Mill Street between Westover Terrace and Battleground Avenue. The atmosphere is casual during the day and romantic at night. They offer a full dinner menu (entrees from $13 to $17) and a lunch buffet ($9).

Indian Feast

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Our Indian Feast consisted of Southeast Asian Squash Curry, Samosas with Mint-Cilantro Dipping Sauce, and Naan. It didn’t quite stack up to Saffron, but it blew India Palace out of the water.

The curry recipe says it makes four servings, but it probably makes closer to six servings. I think it’s a great recipe to make at home because the recipe is easy to follow, but results in a dish with complex flavors. The squash stays nice and firm throughout the cooking, but can be mushy when reheated. The spinach wilts almost immediately when you stir it in — I don’t think there’s any need to continue cooking it with the pan covered as the recipe suggests. If you like your curry spicy, I suggest using 3 generous tablespoons of curry paste.

I halved the samosa recipe and still got nine large pastries. We could have made a meal out of that alone. They turn out quite spicy, but the pastry dough and dip temper the heat well. Before assembling the samosas, I mashed the filling with a potato masher and I think that made the assembly and consumption a bit easier.

The naan was, perhaps, the best part of the meal. That isn’t to say that the curry and samosas weren’t delicious, but the naan was out of this world. In a blind test, I bet you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference from this naan and a restaurant’s naan. Glenn was the mastermind behind this dish. The trick seemed to be cooking the bread on an extremely hot surface. The recipe is below.

Naan

  • 3 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 6 oz plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water, warm
  • 2 Tb oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Mix all ingredients. Knead 6-8 minutes. Let rise 1 1/2 hours. (Dough will still be very sticky.) Divide into 8 balls. Flatten.
  • Oven: Preheat oven to 500 with baking stone on bottom rack. Place flattened dough on stone and bake 4 minutes on each side.
  • Stove Top: Heat a dry cast iron skillet over high heat. When the skillet is very, very hot, place flattened dough in the center. Cook 4 minutes on each side.