October 18, 2008
Reprinted with permission from Cuisines of the Axis of Evil and Other Irritating States: A Dinner Party Approach to International Relations by Chris Fair (Globe Pequot Press, 2008). Copyright 2008 by Chris Fair.
The night before the party, pick through the dried chickpeas and remove anything that should not be there, such as rocks, dirt, etc. Cover with about 6 cups of water and add 1 teaspoon sodium bicarbonate (aka baking soda). This will produce very tender chickpeas. This dish takes its unusual color from the teabag with which the chickpeas are cooked.
1. Cook the soaked chickpeas in 6 cups water with the teabag. If you are using a pressure cooker, follow the manufacturer's instructions. (In my cooker, it takes about 10-15 minutes.) If you are not using a pressure cooker, this could take 40 minutes or longer to complete. Strain the chickpeas, remove the teabag, and set aside.
2. While the chickpeas are cooking, begin making the spicy sauce. In a big pot, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil. Fry the onions, chiles, ginger, and garlic until the onions are golden brown.
3. Add the other 2 tablespoons of oil and heat. Add the chili, cumin, and coriander powders along with the bay leaves. Fry the mixture for about 2 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes and fry for another 10 minutes.
5. Add the cooked chickpeas, 1 cup warm water, pomegranate seed powder, and sea salt to taste. Let simmer on low heat until the spices are incorporated. Remove from the heat until your guests arrive.
6. Warm up the chickpeas to serve. Right before serving, add the garam masala. Garam masala can be destroyed by heat, and for this reason, I add it right before serving, in addition to more salt if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped cilantro and finely chopped yellow onions. You could remove the bay leaves if you prefer. (Most folks I know do not bother.)
Andrea Reusing is the creator of the restaurant Lantern in Chapel Hill, N.C., and author of the book Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes. In this installment of The Key 3, she shares with Lynne Rossetto Kasper the techniques behind three of her favorite recipes: Turnip Soup, Overnight Braised Short Ribs and Tomato Salad.