Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Last week's chickpeas

We've been eating salads every night, with gorgeous lettuce and spinach, as well as radishes and, this week, scallions, all from Drumlin, dressed with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Bliss in a bowl.

One of my perennial difficulties with the greens is how dirty they are: it's a lot of work to wash them, but also a lot of water! I hit upon a solution: I've been saving the water (or "harvesting" it) to water my plants with! I'm very happy about this, because I really felt guilty washing all that water down the drain.

Last Friday night I reprised a dinner I'd made last year, from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors book. It's sauteed bok choy wrapped inside crepes made with scallions sprinkled on them. Best of all, my kids ate them (sans the bok choy, sadly) because we said they were similar to scallion pancakes that we sometimes get at Chinese restaurants.

But I had also soaked some chickpeas, so I cooked those. I was thinking of making more hummus using the recent Cook's Illustrated method, which I did tonight, finally -- it was fantastic, though a little on the runny side. That's what I get for not measuring the lemon juice or the cooking water I added in. But it makes great salad dressing -- a nice change from the vinaigrette we've been having.

But I also cooked an Indian chickpea dish from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. I'll look up the name of it in a minute. (Moghlai Chanay.) I have to say, I make decent dal and seasoned basmati rice; a few little vegetable curries (one with brown lentils and cauliflower comes to mind); a yummy Indian potato dish, adapted from one in Laurel's Kitchen . . . but I tend to be disappointed when I attempt anything more elaborate. Somehow the things I've tried lack the depth I'm after. But this one was a winner! Adding lots of seasonings over time and letting them all saute to bring out their flavor helped, I'm sure, as did that incredibly cool technique of stirring the yogurt, tablespoon by tablespoon, into the seasoned onions. It was almost like making a roux. It disappeared into the sauce, but added this rich, velvety dimension to the dish beyond the complexity of flavors. Really amazing. AND, I left a few things out of the recipe that I didn't have -- fresh cilantro, for example, and amchoor powder. But I'll certainly be getting the latter next time I go down to Patel Brothers! (Plus, I used very old garam masala -- yes, I toasted and ground the spices myself, but like three years ago. Shh. )

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