The first time I had Hubby Dear over at my place for dinner, I hate to admit it, but he was one of those, “I’m in the neighbourhood and I think it’ll be awesome if I drop by for some dinner cooked by you!“. We had just started seeing each other a few months ago. He was in town on some work and thought that instead of meeting up somewhere, it would be great if I could cook him up a meal. Now, mind you, this was a time when I didn’t feel much at home in the kitchen. I was used to cooking, yes, but had never cooked for anyone as yet – and this Chana Aloo recipe was going to be a first! Other than my Dad and best friends, and truth be told, I didn’t really care what they thought of my newly acquired talent. But Hubby Dear, now this was BIG! This guy actually wanted me to cook for him, and that meant he had no idea what he was getting into.
Due to the last minute notice that fell on me, I had no choice but to say yes, and curse myself later. There was no time to shop; whatever I was going to make had to come from what I already had in my kitchen. Being a student, with almost empty pockets at the time, didn’t allow me to have an overstocked pantry. All I found, that I actually thought I could use, was a can of chickpeas. Perfect! Chickpeas is one of the simplest and quickest things to cook. And seasoned with the perfect spice blend, they are undoubtedly delicious as well. With limited time left before he rang the doorbell, I started to get to work. As I quickly chopped and stirred, much calm and collected than I was a few minutes ago, I went into my spice rack to pick out my most trusted ally – the Chana Masala powder. And lo and behold, like all tests of fate that take place around the same time, I was out of it! Today, that would not be any cause for panic, but a few years ago when I had not yet experienced much of my culinary capabilities, I was in for a disaster. But he was on his way, and I no choice but to improvise.
Sixteen years later, we’ve just celebrated our fourteenth wedding anniversary. So you could say the dinner didn’t turn out too bad. And wonder of wonders, he still loves my Chana Aloo!
CHANA ALU (CHICKPEAS & POTATO CURRY)
- 2 tbsp light cooking oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp amchur powder
- 1 tsp garam masala powder
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 medium tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 large can chickpeas drained and rinsed thoroughly
- 2 medium potatoes peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
- water as needed
- salt to taste
- a handful of chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
- Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and saute cumin seeds and cinnamon stick till they start to sizzle. Add onions and fry till tender.
- Stir in ginger-garlic paste, spices and tomato paste, and cook for a few seconds. Now mix in chopped tomatoes and salt, and cook till the tomatoes pulp and start to give out oil from the sides.
- Add in chickpeas, potatoes and about 2 cups of water, allow it to come to a boil, then lower the heat and pop on the lid. Let it simmer covered for 10-12 minutes till the potatoes are soft and tender to the touch. Add in more water if you’d like a thinner curry consistency. Check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve warm.
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