This morning we had our first sighting of snowflakes here in the big smoke. I greeted the day with a squeal and a little dance but I know that many of my neighbours had one extra reason to stay bundled away in their cozy homes this morning. Working off a full belly of spicy Trinidadian style food and some Calypso music I was well on my way to stifling a bad case of wanderlust.
I decided that it was high time to let myself a little taste of the Caribbean and let my mind wander down memory lane. It has been more than a year since my favourite Trini has relocated across the pond. He certainly hasn’t avoided the damp and cold in England but I couldn’t help but reminisce a bit today and chuckle over the thought of his scowling face at the mere mention of s-n-o-w. My fair weathered friend is fully responsible for improving my existing channa recipe. One of his family friend’s is one of the best home cooks out there. I watched this sassy, strong-willed woman cook for hours and hours. While I can’t say this is exactly how she makes her channa, I have taken a page out of her book on how to build a solid flavour base.
Channa (chickepeas or garbanzo beans) are one of my standby protein sources and a fantastic way to get some insoluble protein down into your gut, not to mention a power house for folate. Ladies and gentlemen, folate is good for your heart not just your reproductive system. But it will help you get healthy luscious hair and nails. Hot pepper will put a little pep in your step and has now been shown to help reduce inflammation in the body.
Trini-Style Channa Aloo Masala
24 oz.of canned or fresh diced organic tomatoes – depending if you can get local tomatoes in your neck of the woods
15 oz. canned or previously soaked organic chickpeas
roughly chopped red potatoes, scrubbed with skin on
half of a large (red or yellow) onion, diced
3 tablespoons of minced fresh ginger
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno or thai bird chili sliced ; or a whole scotch bonnet or habanero.
3 heaping teaspoons of garam masala
2 heaping teaspoons of your favourite curry powder
1 teaspoon of ground tumeric
2 teaspoons of Chief Caribbean Garam Masala
3 teaspoons of ground corainder
one small handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
half of a lemon, juiced
salt to taste
Heat a deep pot to medium and add in oil until warmed.
Add in onions and caramelize for four-five minutes turning to medium low. Add in garlic, ginger, hot pepper and salt – cook down for three to four minutes.
Add in tomatoes and a bit of water if needed. Turn heat back up to medium and cover with a lid, stirring occasionally until tomatoes soften.
Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, pulse until a smooth sauce appears. Note: if you are using a regular blender be sure to open the top and place a kitchen towel over top, so that the mixture doesn’t explode from the heat and pressure.
Add sauce back into pot with chickpeas and potatoes.
Turn heat back to medium low and allow to simmer for 40minutes to an hour. Stirring occasionally making sure the bottom isn’t burning.
Taste for spice and add in extra curry, garam masala, ground coriander. Stir in roughly chopped cilantro and lemon juice for a few minutes. Taste for salt and serve.
This channa aloo masala will only get better the next day. Serve up on a bed of sautéed greens, rice or quinoa.