I have met many people here in the States who have told me that they love Indian food but are intimidated to try their hand at cooking it. Just because of a usual long list of ingredients and the prep work involved. And I agree. However, I feel that just having 2-3 basic Indian spices in your pantry is a game changer if you want to try your hand at Indian cooking for the first time. And as you start liking what you are cooking, you can keep adding to your masala dabba..:). As I have mentioned in my Indian Spices post, try to buy spices from the bulk section of your store, if it offers one. That saves you from storing the spices for too long and eventually loose most of the flavor. At bulk section, you can buy as little or as much as you would like and not end up buying 100 gm or 4 oz packs. If you do end up buying bigger packs of some spices, you can store them in the freezer to prolong freshness.
This recipe is very versatile and forgiving. There are three major components – 1. A can of Chole/Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans; 2. Paneer or Tofu; 3. Greens – Bok choy, kale or spinach – whatever makes your skirt fly up..:P. Then there are the usual culprits – garlic, onions and tomatoes. Plus the spices – turmeric, cumin powder and garam masala. Oh and salt. There you have it.
Nutritional value of this recipe is hard to beat – protein from beans, greens and dairy (or tofu); medicinal value that turmeric, cumin and garam masala add; veggies; and healthy fats (olive oil). So its a package deal!!
Adapted from a recipe by BevCooks
Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans – 1 can or 1 ¼ cup cooked
Olive oil – 3 tablespoons (divided)
Paneer or Tofu – 1 batch paneer recipe/ 400gm paneer/ 1 block of extra-firm tofu
Greens – 1 lb baby bok choy or 1 bunch of kale or spinach
White onion – 1 small
Tomatoes – 2 big
Green chili – 1 (optional)
Garlic – 3 cloves or 1 ½ teaspoon
Cilantro – 5 sprigs (optional)
Turmeric – ½ teaspoon
Cumin seeds – 1 tablespoon
Garam masala – ½ tablespoon
Salt and pepper – to taste
In a small pan set over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds until fragrant, cool and then grind them up in a mortar and pestle or simply by wrapping in a paper towel and beating the life out of them with a rolling pin..lol. Finely dice the onion and tomatoes and mince garlic. Chop the green chili and cilantro (if using). Chop the greens into small chunks. If you are using baby bok choy, take the leaves apart, wash and then cut because sometimes there is a lot of dirt trapped in the base of those leaves. You may or may not want to keep the stem part of bok choy. Entirely up to your liking. My favorite green to use in this recipe is baby bok choy – which is technically a cabbage. Followed by kale and then spinach.
Cut the paneer or tofu into cubes. If you are using extra-firm tofu, PLAN AHEAD. Drain it from the package, wrap the block in few layers of paper towels and put something heavy on it to drain it out further. Keep for at least 30 minutes.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
Set a medium skillet on medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and once it is nice and shiny, add the chopped greens. Add some salt, mix and cook until wilted – about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet. Add the remaining oil into the skillet and lower the heat to medium. Add minced garlic, chopped onion and green chili. Cook for about 2 minutes and then add turmeric and toasted cumin powder. And get ready to die from the beautiful aroma that will fill your kitchen. Sauté for a minute and then add chopped tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then add about a ¼-cup water along with chickpeas. Cover and let cook for 5 minutes.
Add the greens along with paneer/tofu cubes. Sprinkle salt, pepper and garam masala. Give everything a big mix, cover and cook another 5-7 minutes for the flavors to mingle. Check seasonings, sprinkle chopped cilantro and serve hot with rice or roti. Enjoy!
Love – Vaishali.
Knife and chopping board
Measuring cups and spoons
Mortar and pestle