Wednesday, February 6, 2008

show don't tell

Last week I made chickpea and potato curry, in an effort to use up a rainy afternoon and a bag of potatoes moldering in the crisper drawer of the fridge.  

First I spread a blanket on the floor in a corner of the kitchen (away from the knives and stove), and set Monkey down with a few toys to explore.  I chopped onions and melted butter, while she gummed and babbled to her current #1 toy, which we've dubbed the Butterbee.  After reacquainting myself with the spice cabinet, I looked up to find that she had rolled onto her belly and was kicking her feet and grabbing at the blanket, deeply entranced by its texture.  

By the time the onions and spices had melted into ochre silkiness, Monkey was getting a little fussy, so I picked her up and showed her what was happening on the stove.  I told her the names of all the spices--ginger, coriander, turmeric, cumin, allspice, cayenne--and carefully, carefully raised the lid on the saucepan to reveal the clutch of round potatoes boiling away.

I set her down again and added some diced canned tomatoes to the onions; drained the potatoes, peeled them, and set them in the pan; and rinsed off a can of chickpeas in the colander.  By this time Monkey needed another little cuddle (it had taken me a long time to peel the potatoes), so I picked her up and showed her how the potatoes that we'd seen before in the saucepan were now nestled amongst the onions in the skillet, dyed yellow by the spices like Easter eggs.  

I pointed out the chickpeas in the colander, and thought to myself, "Ummmmmm, legumes are okay at this age, right?  I think so.  I think."  I mashed up a chickpea between my thumb and forefinger, worked the skin of the bean away from the flesh, and held the makeshift puree up to Monkey's lips.  I'm not sure how much she actually swallowed, but she got a taste, so I've optimistically decided that we're on our way to curry and hummus and all sorts of delights.

Chickpea and Potato Curry

3 Tbs. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground cumin
dash allspice
1/4 tsp. cayenne (or to taste--if you're a new parent, you know how many stars you like)
Salt to taste
1 C. diced canned tomatoes (with juice)
1 C. plain yogurt (full-fat would be best)
The moldering potatoes, boiled and peeled (The original recipe calls for "12 very small new potatoes," which seems a bit precious even for a blog about baby food, don't you think?  I used about 9 average-sized ones--that's what I had on hand, but it came out about right.)
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Heat the butter in a large skillet and saute the onions and garlic over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until they are very soft.  Add the spices and stir to combine.  Add the tomatoes and heat through.  Then, turn the heat very low and stir in the yogurt.  Simmer, uncovered, over very low heat for 5 minutes.  Add the cooked potatoes and gently coat them with the yogurt and spice mixture.  Finally, gently stir in the chickpeas and continue to simmer, covered, over very low heat for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve over basmati rice right away or, better yet, tomorrow night.

(Adapted from The Versatile Grain and the Elegant Bean.  The original recipe is for Mung Bean and Potato Curry--but chickpeas come in a can.)

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