My Indian cooking skills have definitely improved since being with Ravi. The techniques aren't too far off from what I grew up learning - it was the spices and other ingredients that threw me for a loop (as well as mastering the stovetop pressure cooker my now mother-in-law gave to me only a few months into dating her son). It's been so fun experimenting with and learning to create new-to-me dishes.
For this recipe, however, I sadly cannot can't take credit. It's the one Indian dish that Ravi says I make better than his mother, and I just had to share it with all of you. It's by the amazingly talented Meera Sodha. Her cookbooks are so inspiring and an accessible gateway into the world of Indian cooking.
The cucumber salad is my take on raita, a cooling yogurt sauce. Since we don't eat a lot of dairy, this is essentially raita without the yogurt. It's very refreshing and brings a brightness to the chole that we love.
Chole (Indian Chickpea Curry)
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 fresh green or red chili, roughly chopped (I like serrano)
3 tablespoons avocado oil
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 15-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon garam masala
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
1⁄4 teaspoon ground turmeric
fine sea salt (to taste)
Pound the ginger, garlic and chili pepper together in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt until a paste forms. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, finely mince them.
Heat the oil in a dutch oven or stock pot set to medium. Once hot, add the onions and cook for 10-12 minutes, until very golden brown, stirring frequently. (This dish is all about layering flavors, so it's important to fully execute each step). Next, add the ginger, garlic, and chili paste. Stir into the onions and cook for 30-60 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste followed by the diced tomatoes. Season with a pinch of salt and let cook for another 10 minutes, until it forms a very thick sauce.
Add in the garam masala cumin, cayenne, turmeric, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes until very fragrant. Finally add drained chickpeas and 1/4 cup water, stirring well to combine with the sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes, taste, and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve warm.
thinly sliced chili peppers
sliced red onion
We serve our chole with charred almond flour tortillas, but feel free to use any type of flatbread.
Recipe adapted from Meera Sodha's "Made In India".
Note: Chole can be made up to a day ahead and reheated prior to serving. You may need to add a few splashes of water to thin out the sauce.
Mustard Seed Cucumber Salad
1 English cucumber, finely chopped or sliced
1-2 Tbs. unrefined avocado oil
2 tsp. black mustard seeds
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt (to taste)
Place cucumber in a medium bowl and sprinkle with salt.
Then, in a small sauce pan, heat the avocado oil and mustard seeds on medium. Wait for the mustard seeds to become fragrant and start to pop (60-90 seconds), then pour over the salted cucumber - being careful not to splatter yourself with the hot oil. Stir to combine and let sit 10-15 minutes for the flavors to meld. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.