Chickpea, Spinach and Beets in a Coconut-Tomato Curry

Chickpea, Spinach and Beets in a Coconut-Tomato Curry

Combining plump buttery chickpeas with spinach and beets in a creamy coconut milk and tomato gravy with aromatic spices not only puts plenty of flavor on the plate, but also provides for a complete, filling and wonderfully nourishing meal served with fresh cooked white or brown rice or a flat bread. And with curry powder and panch phoran spice blends made up ahead of time, it comes together in no time at all.

Panch phoran, also known as Bengali five-spice, is a deliciously fragrant spice blend consisting of equal parts fenugreek, nigella, black mustard, cumin and fennel seeds. Panch phoran is easy to find at Indian or Asian grocers, but it's ridiculously easy to make your own and keep on hand in a sealed jar for a good many months on hand for quick additions to all kinds of vegetable dishes — simply combine equal parts of each seed. Panch phoran is especially wonderful with potatoes.

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas (3 cups cooked or 2 14 oz cans)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon panch phoran (Bengali five-spice)
  • 1-inch piece ginger, grated or minced
  • pinch of asafetida
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 bunch of fresh spinach or beet green tops, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 medium cooked beets, diced (2 cups)
  • Rinse the chickpeas and soak for 8 hours or overnight in several inches of water. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a medium saucepan and cover with several inches of fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the panch phoran and stir for a few minutes until the seeds darken a few shades. Toss in the asafetida, let sizzle for a moment, and then add the tomato and curry powder. Cook for 5 minutes until the tomato thickens.
  • Stir in the coconut milk and chickpeas and simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the spinach or beet tops a few handfuls at a time, until wilted. Stir in the salt and remove from heat.
  • Serve hot with the diced beets stirred in or scatter on top.

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