Sweet & Sour Curried Chickpeas with Spinach

Sometimes just making it to Friday night seems like a Herculean feat. I came home bruised, battered, and hungry. While I had just about made my way through the Homemade Hummus from last weekend’s chickpea extravaganza, I still had a pint and a half of whole chickpeas left to consume. Today was bitterly cold and I found myself craving something warm and spicy.

Sweet & Sour Curried Chickpeas with Spinach

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander
  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tablespoon whole fenugreek
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (Ghee or some sort of vegetable oil would be fine.)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 knob (large gumball sized) ginger, minced 
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1/2 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1/2 pound dried chickpeas, cooked, with liquid (You could use a couple of cans in a pinch, but the texture will suffer.)
  • 2 tablespoons dried tamarind (If my crappy grocery store has it, yours will too.)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • salt
  • 2 bunches fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  1. Bring the oil up to medium heat in a medium-sized heavy-bottom pot. Add the onion and sauté stirring frequently. After a few minutes, add the ginger and jalapeño. 
  2. Meanwhile, toast the cumin, coriander, fenugreek and peppercorns in a dry cast iron skillet, shaking frequently, until they begin to pop and release their smell. Grind these using a mortar and pestle or an electric grinder.
  3. Add the garlic to your onion mixture. Stir constantly for about one minute. Then add your ground toasted spices plus the turmeric and garam masala and continue stirring for one minute, allowing the spices to hydrate in the oil. 
  4. Add the chickpeas with their liquid, the tamarind, the sugar and a nice pinch of salt. (There is probably some dentist-approved way to handle the tamarind, but I just tore it into small pieces with my hands and then fished out whatever seeds I could spot as the fruit disintegrated into the sauce. I recommend doing a better job than I did, though I managed to avert a trip to Dr. Czarnik.) Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer for a while, adding water as needed.
  5. This is a good time to put some rice on. (While basmati would be traditional, I used some brown Jasmine rice, because that’s what I had, and added turmeric and salt.) When your rice is just about done, taste your chickpeas and adjust the seasoning with salt and sugar as needed. Then add the spinach in batches, stirring to speed the wilting process, and cook until the leaves are just tender.

The resulting meal was a delightful mashup of my favorite Indian takeout dishes. But, with no dairy and just a tablespoon of oil for about four servings, it was much lighter–which is a good thing when you need to buckle down and write a paper at the end of a very long week.

Sweet and Sour Curried Chickpeas with Spinach

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