This post is about two staples in my pantry, chickpeas and cilantro. For various reasons, some of us are staying off meat this time of the year and while fish certainly is a viable option just legumes work too. Chickpeas paired with simple button mushrooms in this exceedingly simple and hearty preparation will satisfy the palate and the appetite. While we are at it, this dish will appeal to people eating vegan and gluten-free as well.
While I tend to be partial to chickpeas in the world of legumes, I am not the only one chickpeas were one of the oldest cultivated crops as were legumes in general. Not surprising – easy to grow, tastes good and of course as we now know very nutritious.
Coriander leaves or cilantro is a very versatile herb that is versatile in both its uses and names. It is know as Chinese parsley, also. Used extensively in Mexican and other Mediterranean cuisines and is actually a native to the Turkey regions, to the point, we have actually adapted the Spanish word cilantro for its most popular name. It is the most popular herb of choice in the Indian kitchen, second to mint.
The cilantro is a perennial plant that grows for 1 to 2 feet and features dark green, hairless soft leaves that are variable in shape. The leaves and steam have a light citrus flavor. However, there are a whole host of people to whom the cilantro tastes like soap. So, what do they do in my kitchen, very simple just tell me and I will leave the offending garnish out.
My joke is that we use cilantro as a green vegetable in our house. For this post, I was persuaded to actually look up the nutrition for this herb. It turns out the herb is rich in anti-oxidants which help reduce “bad cholesterol” levels. The leaves and seeds contain many essential
volatile oils. Anti-oxidants and is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese. It is also rich in many vital vitamins including folicacid, riboflavin and niacin and vitamin K. All of this bonus nutrition in a herb that I enjoy anyway, made me happy.
So, now down to the chickpea recipe, one of the things that I do feel makes a difference in taste with beans and lentils is really cooking your own and believe me if you are willing to give the pressure cooker a try you can do these from the scratch without soaking in about 25 minutes and then this recipe takes about 15 to 20 minutes. It is entirely up to you.
The key difference in taste in canned beans is attributed to the fact that soaking the beans in salted preservative solutions tends to errode some of the natural flavors. This being said, canned beans work fine in this recipe and are a viable substitute.
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (such as grapeseed or canola)
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
- 11/2 cups cooked chickpeas (I cook mine in the pressure cooker with 1 teaspoon of salt for about 25 minutes)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce or 2 tomatoes, diced
- 4 to 6 ounces (about 2 cups) mushrooms, quartered
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1/2 large lemon, seeded
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- Heat the two tablespoons of oil on medium heat and add in the onions and saute for about 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are wilted and turn soft and pale golden.
- Add in the ginger garlic paste and cook for about one or two minutes until the mixture is fragrant.
- Add in the chickpeas and stir well mixing in the turmeric.
- After about a minute add in the tomato sauce or tomatoes, mushrooms, salt and the red cayenne pepper and mix well.
- Cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture is mixed through and the mushrooms have wilted.
- Stir in the cilantro.
- Turn off the heat and squeeze in the lemon juice.
- In a separate pan heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and add in the cumin seeds and wait until they sizzle and pour over the seasoned oil and seeds over the chickpeas and stir well. Serve immediately.
Rinku Bhattacharya is a daytime financial professional, who spends the rest of her time immersed in food. Rinku is the author of the blog, Cooking in Westchester, where she shares her life experiences and original recipes that combine Indian spices with produce from her backyard and local farmers markets. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing. Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past six years, and her cookbook the Bengali Five Spice Chronicles, highlights and offers many simple recipes from Eastern India. Rinku can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest