a was sleeping over and i wanted to cook something. i decided it was time to make channa masala. mama's recipe is super easy and requires very little work. with it i boiled plain white rice. a and i ate it with some preserved lemons. pity i didn't have yoghurt. it would have been really nice to have raita but i wasn't inclined to walk down to the local shops thanks to the rain.
four tablespoons vegetable oil
salt to taste
two cans of chickpeas
one medium white onion finely sliced (try not to substitute red onion as that makes the masala too sweet)
three plum tomatoes
a tbsp of red lentils
two or three cloves of garlic
a bay leaf
a cinnamon stick
two or three cloves
a few pepper corns
one heaped teaspoon of corriander seeds, bruised in a pestle and mortar
one teaspoon cumin seeds
juice of half a lemon
to garnish you need roughly chopped corriander, julienned ginger and thinly sliced green chilli
fry the onion in two two tablespoons of oil until golden and almost crispy
place the tomatoes, red lentils, garlic and onions in a food processor and blitz to puree form
add the remaining two tablespoons of oil to the pan and gently fry the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, pepper corns and corriander seeds to release the flavours of the spices
then add the masala puree to the pan and fry over medium heat. since you are using tinned chickpeas you have to fry the masala for at least fifteen minutes to make sure that the red lentils are cooked through. keep adding a little bit of water to the pan incase the masala sticks. this process needs to be continued till the raw taste of the lentils goes away and the masala 'sweats out' the oil i.e. the oil must be distinctly separate from the masala.
when you reach this point add the chickpeas to the masala reserving the liquid.
fry the chickpeas with the masala and then add the cumin seed, juice of half a lemon and the reserved liquid. salt to taste.
cover and simmer until the sauce has thickened and the oil is visible on the surface. mama says you may need to add a little more oil. i was happy with how much i had put in.
garnish with corriander, julienned ginger and chilli.
serve on a bed of white rice.