Black Chickpea Curry

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from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080507.wlchefvij07/BNStory/lifeFoodWine/home

WHAT YOU NEED

1 cup dried black chickpeas

3 cups water for soaking

1/2 teaspoon salt

9 cups water for boiling*

1/2 cup ghee

11/2 tablespoons cumin seeds

1 pound onions, chopped (two medium)

2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic

1 large juicy tomato, finely chopped

1 large jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

1 tablespoon garam masala

1/2 tablespoon mango powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground fenugreek seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

2 cups water

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

WHAT YOU DO

Wash and drain black chickpeas. Place chickpeas and the three cups of water in a bowl and soak overnight or for at least six hours.

Drain chickpeas and place in a large pot with salt and the nine cups of water. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for one hour or until chickpeas are cooked through. The outer skin of black chickpeas is thicker than the skin of regular yellow chickpeas, so taste one or mash one between your fingers to be sure they are fully cooked. Do not drain.

In a separate large pot, heat ghee on medium-high for one minute. Add cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for about 30 seconds. Add onions and sauté for eight minutes, stirring regularly, until golden brown. Add garlic and sauté for two to three minutes.

Stir in tomatoes, then add jalapeno pepper, garam masala, mango powder, turmeric, fenugreek, salt and cayenne. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the masala for five to eight minutes, until ghee glistens on top. Stir in the two cups of water.

Add boiled chickpeas and their water to the masala. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, then cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. (This ensures that the spicing has gone into the chickpeas.) Stir in cilantro.

Note: This curry is also an ingredient in Eggplant and Papaya Curry. If preparing it for that, boil the chickpeas in only 61/2 cups – not nine cups – water.

Beppi's wine matches

My preferred wine choice would be a slightly sweet riesling, such as Joie Riesling from British Columbia ($20.40) or Henry of Pelham Off-Dry Reserve Riesling from Ontario ($15.95) or an aromatic gewurztraminer-based wine such as the excellent bargain Strewn Two Vines Riesling-Gewurztraminer from Ontario ($11.95).

But if you like red wine and are feeling adventurous, try pairing this offbeat curry with a zinfandel (note: not pink-coloured "white" zinfandel). Red wines usually clash with generously spiced Indian dishes, but three of the ingredients - jalapeno, cumin and cilantro - tend to dance well with the jammy, sometimes raisin-like fruit of big-bodied zinfandel. Consider Ravenswood Vintners Blend (about $20). Hint: Chill it for 15 minutes in the fridge or drop an ice cube into your glass.

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