It’s funny how, when I look back now, it suddenly occurred to me how much Hubby Dear and I bonded over food during the start of our relationship. It took us a few weeks of regularly talking for hours on the phone before we actually had a chance to go out on our first date. There was nothing much we could do really, distance was what kept us apart. We were both studying in different cities, a couple of hours away from each other. When he did finally drive down to officially take me out for the first time, we spent the perfect day at the CNE. It was the first time either of us had been to it, and we’ve made it a ritual to visit every year since – now, with Baby Dear in tow.
That first date was a memorable one. Hubby Dear was shocked to learn that I could eat samosas anytime, anywhere and as many times as it was available to me. I too, learned a few things about him that fateful day. One of which, that I figured out the hard way of course, was that the man HATES to share his fries. Just as much as Joey honestly confessed on an episode of Friends that “Joey does NOT share food!“. Yea, fortunately for him, I decided to look past that trait and solely focus on the fact that he was ONE I could easily swindle a few designer bags from each year!
During the months we were dating long distance, Hubby Dear and I would take turns visiting each other every weekend. On the times when he would drive down to see me, we would often make sure to visit some of the countless little ethnic eateries that the GTA is so well known for. Whenever I would take the train into his quaint student town, we would make a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up a few essentials that would enable me to cook a few simple meals that he could eat for the rest of the week. This was undoubtedly after my first eventful cooking experience for him, after which he deemed me absolutely fit and capable of dishing out meals for him for the rest of his life!
To this day, almost 12 years in since we first met, the man still relishes my Chana Masala with as much gusto as he did the first time I made it for him. I however, still today, cannot stand it as much. Although I do love chickpeas in many ways and forms, Chana Masala does not quite top the list. So to keep us both happy and our tummies equally full, I often add in some variation – like the chicken I did today.
I’ve often heard that couples who’ve spent a long time together often change their tastes and habits to suit the other. For us, it was a matter of simply combining the two. It wasn’t hard to fuse my love for all things tasty with Hubby Dear’s undying addiction to all things edible. Truly, matches are made in Heaven, but I’d like to believe that ours was cooked up in a 5-star kitchen filled with everything a culinary goddess could only dream of having. For in a home where one finds it hard to understand how the other can own a few dozen handbags, and still find the need for more, the large pot of simmering curry is always something the two will always look forward to.
CHICKEN & CHICKPEA CURRY
PREP TIME: 10 MIN | COOKING TIME: 25 MIN | SERVES: 4 AS MAIN, 6 AS SIDE
2 tbsp light cooking oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole black cardamom pods
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
salt, to taste
2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large can chickpeas, rinsed well and drained
1/4 cup plain yogurt, beaten till smooth
water, as needed
1 tsp garam masala powder
a handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped for garnish
Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan and add in whole spices and cumin seeds. As soon as they begin to sizzle, add in chopped onions, and fry for 2-3 minutes on medium-high heat till onions turn pink and tender. Add in ginger and garlic pastes and sauté for another minute till fragrant.
Add in spices and tomato paste, and fry for a couple of minutes to blend well. If it starts to dry out and stick to the bottom of the pan, add in a splash of water.
Mix in chopped tomatoes and salt, and cook for a few minutes till the tomatoes pulp and starts to release oil around the sides of the pan. Add in the chicken pieces and chickpeas, mix well and cook covered on low heat for 3-4 minutes.
Once the chicken starts to give out its own moisture, slowly stir in beaten yogurt forming a smooth gravy base. Feel free to add in more water depending on the consistency you prefer. Cook covered for 10-12 minutes on medium-low heat till chicken is completely cooked through. Sprinkle garam masala on top and garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves. Serve piping hot with a side of rotis or rice, and a salad.