Chickpea Curry

You need:

  • A smallish chopped up tomato, a handful of sliced-in-half cherry tomatoes, or an equivalent amount of canned tomatoes (easiest if diced). Tomato paste works, too, but I'd really rather not go there.
  • A diced jalapeno (optional)
  • a clove or two of chopped up garlic
  • diced onion, maybe a tablespoon or two, but I don't like onion that much so you might want more
  • can of chickpeas
  • curry powder
  • some kind of oil, I think I use canola.
  • baby spinach (also optional, but so worth it)
  • yogurt (I've also used buttermilk)
  • a deepish frying pan with a lid that fits decently
  • oh, right, salt

Put your frying pan on the burner and heat it up. Once it's pretty hot (but not scorchy--you should know over how much heat you can happily cook garlic and onions without instantly burning them), put some oil in it. I use somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon's worth of oil. Swirl it around in the pan. Add the garlic, onion, and jalapeno.

Fry the garlic, onion, and jalapeno until you can smell it (the onion will be getting a little translucent, but nothing'll be brown). Add the tomato. Cook all that together a little, 'til the tomato looks wilty.

Add some curry powder. No, more than that, especially if you've had it for a long time (it loses flavor over time) or it was cheap. I usually start with a couple of tablespoons, then add a little bit later on when I taste it and decide it's too bland.

Stir the whole mess together. It'll look like a gloppy, dark orange paste, and that's kind of what you want. Keep stirring until it's mixed well and smells curry-like. This doesn't take very long at all, by which I mean about a minute of stirring, fussing with the amount of spice, and wondering if it's about to burn.

At this point, you want to start making something that looks like gravy. I usually dump half cup to a cup of the chickpea juice in the pan to start, and then add a bunch of yogurt (a cup or two).

(Let me mention here that you really should have everything prepared before you even start cooking, if you aren't aware of that sort of thing. Cut everything up, open cans that will need opening, get your utensils together. Stopping to open the can of chickpeas when you've got barely wet spices cooking can cause disaster. I speak from experience.)

Okay, so you've got a gravy-looking substance bubbling away in your pan, which means it's time to add the chickpeas. Drain the rest of the chickpea juice from the can before you dump it in the pan.

Stir 'til the chickpeas are coated and look comfortable in the gravy, which is still boiling (and if it's not, get it that way before moving on). Turn the heat down to the point where it will continue to simmer, cover, and let it cook for around 30 minutes. Stir it now and then while it's cooking.

Near the end of that 30 minutes (the timing is really flexible and I have been known to let it cook for only 10 minutes. It gets better the longer it cooks, though), add a handful or three of baby spinach. It looks like a lot of spinach, but stir a while and it will wilt and you will want to add more.

After you've put as much spinach as you want in the mix and wilted it down, cover it again and let it cook until you feel like eating it, at least another five to ten minutes.

Taste it, and say to yourself, "Oh, right, salt." Add salt. That is how it always happens when I make it, so that is how it is.

Serve it over rice. Or not. This will serve two, three if you stretch it with a lot of rice.