I don’t know a thing about Indian cooking, other than the fact that I enjoy eating it on occasion, and that I’d never made it myself.  Until today.  Still, I cheated a little because Bronwen supplied with me with all the spices – make it super simple, but also meaning that I don’t have more sitting around, waiting to be used up.  Probably for the best.

Last week’s recipe from Bronwen was for chana masala (recipe courtesty of smitten kitchen).  Now, since I’ve never had this dish before, I didn’t have anything to compare it to, or any standard of greatness.  I also had no idea what to expect in terms of how hot the dish would be or what the flavor combinations would do.

Thusly, many tears were shed over the onions.  The recipe called for two, which seemed like an awful lot, but they cooked down a lot.  I don’t think I’ve ever cooked with a hot pepper before, but I chose what the nice guy at New Seasons said was the mildest of the lot, and survived with my tongue intact.  I thought I had some fresh ginger, but it turned out to be inedible, so I tossed it and added some powdered with the spice mix.  I wasn’t sure exactly how much to brown the onions, since they weren’t brown at all after ten minutes, so I went a little longer before adding the spices.

I was lazy and used canned everything, although I’d like to get into the habit of using dried beans.  The tomato chunks were larger than I would’ve liked, so I sort of broke them up with the spoon as they simmered.  I like tomato flavor without too many actual tomato pieces, unless we’re talking awesome late summer fresh tomatoes, preferably served with mozzerella or on a sandwich.  But I digress.  As the recipe mentions to do, I used the juice of a whole lemon instead of amchoor powder, which in my inexpert opinion worked very nicely with the spices.

As Bronwen mentioned, most of the effort is prep, with a little bit of stirring.  Super easy, and apparently it’s the kind of thing that reheats well.  I’m also going to experiment with freezing some, because boy howdy, I’ve got more recipes waiting and not enough people to force feed my leftovers.

Not very photogenic, but filling and satisfying.  The spice level came out just right for my taste – enough to make my stuffed up nose run, with a small burn on the tongue, but not that level of heat where you’re desperate for something to cut it.  If you like that kind of heat, a hotter pepper or more cayenne would probably do the trick.  But when you’re not allowed any delicious dairy-based sides to cut the heat, not-too-spicy is perfect.  As you can see, I ate mine with basmati (and some Trader Joe’s naan to snack on since I was cooking hungry).

Next up: Annie’s Cannellini and Pearl Barley Soup, which I have to make Saturday if I’m going to stay on track!