In addition to serving some old favorites, like Mung Beans with Paneer Cheese, some new dishes appeared on the menu. My friend really likes beans and Indian flavours, so I turned to my new copy of 660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer for some inspiration. The biggest challenge with this book is deciding on a recipe, packed as it is with straightforward and simple ideas. I finally decided upon a chickpea Shundal. Shundals are moist curries that are usually made with whole legumes and traditionally served during India's Festival of Lights and presented as an offering to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning and knowledge. An appropriate choice, as this past week was all about sharing.
I served this dish with Lime Flavoured Rice with Split Peas, a recipe from the same cookbook.
If you like coconut, do be sure to check out Ricki's site, as she is featuring coconut in her latest Lucky Comestible series.
Chickpeas with Coconut Sauce Shundal
1 1/4 cup of dried chickpeas
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
2 tablespoons of yellow split peas or chana dal
1 1/2 tablespoons of coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon of cumin seeds
4 dried red chilies
1 inch chunk of tamarind
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon of asafetida
handful of dried curry leaves
1 cup of shredded fresh coconut or 1/2 cup dried coconut
1/4 cup of finely chopped fresh cilantro
Rinse and soak the chickpeas in enough water to cover overnight. Drain, transfer to a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, cover, reduce to simmer and cook until the chickpeas are soft - roughly 1 - 1/2 hours. Drain the beans and set aside.
If you are using dried coconut, reconstitute it by combining it with 1/2 of boiling water. Let it sit for 15 minutes, drain in a sieve, press out excess liquid and set aside.
In another bowl, combine two cups of hot water with the tamarind. Let sit for 15 minutes, strain, reserving the liquid and discard the tamarind bits.
Heat the oil in a medium-large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the split peas, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and dried chilies. Stir and fry until the split peas and seeds turn reddish brown, about 2 - 3 minutes. Remove from the heat with a slotted spoon and transfer to a spice grinder. Process until finely ground.
Return the pan to the heat. When the oil is again hot, throw in the mustard seeds. When they begin to turn grey and pop, add the cooked chickpeas to the pot, along with the salt, turmeric, asafetida and curry leaves. Stir a few times, add the tamarind water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for roughly 10 minutes.
Remove from heat, stir in the ground spice mixture, the coconut, and chopped cilantro.