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South Indian Chickpea, Cauliflower and Potato Coconut Curry

South Indian Chickpea, Cauliflower and Potato Coconut Curry

What I thought was my introduction to Indian food and cooking years ago was actually an introduction to north Indian cooking — all of the Indian restaurants in my city and most of the Indian cookbooks available back then were north Indian. Since then, I've been introduced to some of the astonishing variety of cuisines that are found in the sub-continent. Now my Indian recipes could be roughly categorized as north Indian, south Indian, or something in-between.

This dry chickpea curry loaded with vegetables — potato, cauliflower, carrot and red bell pepper — could be called one of those in-between Indian recipes. The composition of chickpeas and vegetables and the spicing is essentially north Indian, but the flavors are enhanced beautifully with the use of grated coconut and coconut milk that is so common to south Indian cooking and imparts wonderful additions of flavor and fragrance to the food. Nourishing and filling, this curry is sure to please anyone with a preference for north or south Indian food.

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup dried chickpeas (2 cups cooked or 1 19 oz can)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water, or as needed
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
Paste:
  • 2 red chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 cup unsweetened dried grated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup water, or as needed
Instructions:
  • Rinse the chickpeas and soak in enough water to cover for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a large saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the chickpeas are tender, about 1 hour. Drain and set aside.
  • While the chickpeas are cooking, make the paste. Combine all of the ingredients in a small food processor and process until a thick fairly thick paste has formed. Add more water as necessary to get everything to grind together.
  • Heat the oil in the same saucepan used to cook the chickpeas over medium heat. When hot, toss in the mustard and cumin seeds and fry, shaking the pot often, until the seeds darken a few shades and the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to splutter and pop. Stir in the cauliflower, potato and carrot, and cook for another few minutes.
  • Add the paste and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook for another few minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the paste from sticking, until fragrant.
  • Toss in the tomato and cook for another few minutes, stirring often. Pour in the coconut milk and water, and then stir in the chickpeas. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover again, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Now add the red pepper, add a bit more water if necessary if the curry seems too dry, and cover again. Simmer for another 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the gravy has thickened.
  • Stir in the salt, taste for seasoning, and serve hot alongside fresh cooked white rice or flat breads.

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