Chana Masala for a Cold Old Towne Week

Happy Thursday everyone and welcome back to the blog. This week, the Southern California showers have made me oh so very happy. Whether you're enjoying this 4-day rainfall or not, it is a small price to pay for the hydration that this state desperately needs. In 2017, Southern California saw the highest rainfall in its 122 years of rain reporting data and this year is looking like 2nd in line. I know it always makes me happy to be driving through the Orange hills and see greenery growing.

With all this rain, I wanted to make something warm and cozy to eat for dinner as the rain came down outside my window. I looked through some of my crockpot cookbooks and Mexican food cookbooks until I remembered what I had been craving for weeks: chana masala. Chana masala is a hot dish from the Indian subcontinent with the main ingredients of chickpeas, tomato, garlic, and hot peppers. It's usually served with basmati, a slender-grained rice. I'll share with you what recipe I used, what tips and tricks I came across when making this recipe, and how I got my chana masala to taste perfect.

So first, I have to plug the BEST farmers market in Orange County, Orange Home Grown Farmers and Artisans Market. I stopped by Orange Home Grown this past Saturday to pick up some garlic, lemon, and onion to make this flavorful dish. The rest of the ingredients I just ran by the grocery store to snag. I love supporting local farmers in my home cooking and Orange Home Grown makes it easy.

The recipe I used was from Minimalist Baker and you can find the recipe HERE. It looks like a lot of ingredients - but don't worry many of them are just spices!

To prep, I used my food processor to process the garlic, peppers, ginger, and cilantro. This becomes a paste that will look like this:

This paste is then added to your translucent onions which creates the flavor base of the chana masala.

This is where all the flavor is coming from in the chana masala, so make sure to cook all of these ingredients well (and not to burn them either!).

After this, you add your chickpeas (which I mostly drained, but did not rinse) and your tomato sauce! I made a mini mistake and forgot to purchase a can of pureed tomatoes at the store. Because of this, I was scrambling in my kitchen to see what I could substitute. Luckily, I had an unopened can of simple marinara sauce in my pantry. This wasn't initially ideal but ended up totally working and not altering the flavor at all. But be sure to remember to grab pureed (or diced) tomatoes on your grocery store trip. You could also food process tomatoes that you buy from Orange Home Grown - you just might need to add some more salt this way.

Another tip: The recipe called for 2-3 hot peppers. I used 2 serrano peppers for this recipe (they were food processed back up in step 1). The recipe called for these to not be seeded. Because of this, I ended up making a very spicy chana masala. Luckily, I had guests over for dinner that love spicy food (and the rice helped balance out the spice as well). However, if you are sensitive to spice, I would suggest seeding the peppers, or just using one pepper.

I made the rice in my rice cooker by following the rice cooker instructions for basmati rice and adding butter, salt, and a little bit of cilantro for flavor.

I served up the dish family-style with individual bowls of rice and the big pot of reduced chickpea curry in the center. My guests brought nan bread and we all enjoyed sitting around my table with a big portion of food in between us. Let me tell you all: this dish and recipe was incredible. It was so flavorful and spicy - I loved it. Just check it out for yourself:

I absolutely loved making this dish - especially while the rain poured down outside. An added bonus: this recipe's yield was very large making it perfect for a large group (or just for leftovers). It feels great to feed friends and have fun in the kitchen, all while supporting Orange Home Grown.

Thank you, everyone, for reading and thank you to Minimalist Baker for the recipe. Try chana masala this week!

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