With stints at Café Spice in New York, the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles, and the Park Royal Hotel’s Indian restaurant in New Delhi (and six best-selling books), chef and author Anjum Anand is on a mission to make Indian food accessible to everyone. She was one of the first chefs to create Indian recipes for the health conscious and her popular BBC television series was watched by over three million viewers. “[Indian food] is my real comfort food; it’s the food I grew up with,” she says.
And while one of her favourite recipes is chicken curry, now she is married to a vegetarian, her go-to dishes at home are a paneer with spinach recipe and a bowl of chickpea curry, “eaten with a flaky flat-bread”.
She shares her recipe for this chickpea curry with T Australia, which she says is often misunderstood in the western world. “Whenever I translate the Indian name of this dish literally into English it comes out as ‘bean curry’, which is misleadingly and depressingly reminiscent of the sandal-wearing hippies of the 1960s and 1970s, detracting from its Indian roots and utter deliciousness,” she explains. “In reality it’s a lovely, flavourful dish, that’s it’s great with Bhatura (fluffy deep-fried leavened sourdough bread) for a fabulous weekend lunch. But I often eat it with buttered wholemeal bread for a divine, simple meal.”
Tangy Chickpea Curry (Serves 4-5)
12g fresh root ginger, peeled weight
4 fat garlic cloves
2 largish tomatoes, quartered
5-6 tbsp vegetable oil
4 green cardamom pods
1 black cardamom pod
2 large shards cinnamon
2 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 green chillies, whole but pierced
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/4-1/2 tsp chilli powder
salt, to taste
2 x 400g cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2-2/3 tsp tamarind paste, or dried pomegranate powder, or to taste
handful finely chopped fresh coriander
- Blend together the ginger, garlic and tomatoes with a little water until smooth (try a stick blender). Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon and half the cumin seeds and cook until they release their aroma and start to crackle. Add the green chillies and onion and cook until the onion is well browned. Add the tomato paste with the turmeric, ground coriander, chilli powder and salt and cook over a moderate to high heat until the oil comes out at the sides (around 15 minutes), stirring often.
- Meanwhile, use the remaining cumin seeds to make roasted cumin powder. Add it to the pot.
- Add the chickpeas and 500ml water. Bring to a boil then simmer over a medium heat for seven or eight minutes. Stir in the garam masala and tamarind paste. Mash a few of the chickpeas on the side of the pan to thicken the sauce a little. Taste for seasoning and tartness, adjusting if necessary, then sprinkle with the chopped coriander and serve.