Curries aren’t usually gentle are they? They’re more often associated with loud nights out, raucous young men and, for me at least, a ceaselessly runny nose and somewhat teary eyes. Curries are loud, in yer face and of course, delicious in almost all their manifestations. But this one, this is a polite curry. Softly spoken. Calm, almost soothing. It tastes initially too plain to be called a curry. Almost like a very grown-up version of baked beans. Chickpeas in tomato sauce. Er, ok I didn’t just say this dish is like baked beans. Far from it, honest! It’s much more clever than that. The spice, which you think will be really strong, creeps up on you. A gentle tap on the shoulder. A small clearing of the throat. And it’s there. A hint of cumin. A nod towards turmeric. A building warmth from hot, but minimal, chillies. And the lemon bringing it all together. This is something of a fusion dish, inspired by a creamy, butter chickpea dish from Stonesoup, but leaning more towards the chana masala of my memories of India, hot and more importantly sour. Use more lemon juice than you think you need to make it a touch sour. Then it will be perfect, I can assure you. This takes but 5 minutes, even less, to throw together, and can be ready in 10, or can sit and bubble for half an hour to let the flavours develop a little more. It all depends on how quickly your accompanying rice takes to cook. Indian food made easy. Quiet. Calm.
Quick chickpea curry
Adapted loosely from Stonesoup
The lemon really is key in this dish. I don’t hold with adding lemon juice to dishes willy nilly, just for the sake of it, so if it’s in the ingredients it’s there for a good reason. It really lifts this dish and makes a huge difference to the flavour, just as with the red lentil soup. Hmm, maybe it’s a legume thing.
1 spring onion, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 very small, very hot Thai chillies
10 small capsicums
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Pinch of salt
1 can (400g) chickpeas, drained
1 can (400g) chopped tomatoes
Large squeeze of lemon juice, say 1 tablespoon
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion, chillies and capsicums. Cook for a minute or two, until the onion is soft. Add the spices and cook for another minute or two, until really fragrant.
2. Add the drained chickpeas and the chopped tomatoes to the pan and salt to taste. Leave to simmer over a medium heat for 10 minutes, of for up to about 30 minutes. Add the lemon juice, check the seasoning again and serve over rice.