Updated: Aug 11, 2022
Chickpeas are my go-to plant protein. I love them. They love me. It's a beautiful relationship I have with chickpeas.
They are versatile and their usage is endless in many recipes. In this blog, I am going to share with you a simple clean recipe, one of my all-time favourites. Really easy to make and it tastes soooo delicious! I am sure you will love it.
Before I head over to the recipe, I want to mention briefly why I call it a clean recipe.
You will find that there are no onions or garlic in this recipe. The reason why I have cut them out from my diet was that some years ago, I suffered from severe acid reflux. I was even taken to the hospital for a GERD attack. Gas, bloating and acid reflux are conditions that many suffer from but go unnoticed or untreated. I was like that too for years. I wasn't even aware of my acid reflux! I was aware of my bloating but didn't quite know what to do about it. After the hospital episode, my GP prescribed me Lazaprazole, a proton pump inhibitor to help suppress the acid. While this was helpful in the short term, I did not want to remain dependent on a drug for my entire life. Nor did I want to feed my body with synthetic chemicals which only cause damaging side effects in the long run. I believe we are natural beings and we must consume beautiful natural food and medicine. Mother nature has it all sorted for us.
After a week, I ditched those pills and started on my quest. Something interesting I found out during that time was a compound called fructans which are present in some vegetables and grains, onions and garlic being two of them. Fructans cause gas and bloating. There is plenty of literature on the worldwide web if you would like to learn more about fructans and gas, so I won't go on about it. In short, when they arrive at our intestinal factory for processing, they begin to ferment and this fermentation process creates gas as byproducts. There is a simple experiment you can do yourself to see how it happens. Peel some garlic cloves, about two pods, drop them into a bottle and pour some olive oil, enough to cover all the garlic cloves so that they are nicely immersed in the oil. With the lid sealed tightly, leave it for about two weeks. After that period, open the lid, it will pop like a champagne bottle by the gas created inside. So, you can know it for yourself, this is true.
Onions and garlic are also known as prana negative vegetables in the yogic tradition. The word negative does not mean that they are bad for us. In fact, they are far from being bad. They are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds which have been used in making medicines for centuries in various cultures. They are just very powerful stuff! Whatever is powerful, we must not be consuming it every day, they affect our nervous system. It is like consuming painkillers every day, if we don't need them, why must we? Hence, most of my recipes are without onion and garlic as I rarely consume them now.
Anyway, without further ado, let's get on with the recipe...
What goes into this curry:
1 cup dried chickpeas soaked overnight (serves 2)
1 red bell pepper
1 heaped tsp fresh root ginger, crushed
2 medium-size tomatoes
1 cup fresh spinach
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp curry powder (hot or mild according to your preference)
About 1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 Tbsp Olive oil
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing
How to make it:
Step 1: Soak dried chickpeas overnight with plenty of water as they swell up. They should be soaked for a good 8-12 hours at least. Boil them with some water, about 3 cups of water for 1 cup of chickpeas and a small amount of salt or without salt, if you prefer. Remember the water will evaporate as you boil for long.
It will take somewhere between 1 - 1.5 hours for the chickpeas to turn soft. You can do it quicker if you've got a pressure cooker, which is what I use and I do it in 10 minutes - 5 minutes on heat and another 5 minutes with the heat turned off but leaving the pressure in the cooker. After 10 minutes, they are soft and ready. If you are using this method, then the amount of water required will be less, about 2 cups of water for 1 cup of chickpeas. If you do not have a pressure cooker but you have a slow cooker, you could try it there too. Keep boiled chickpeas aside.
You can skip this step by using canned chickpeas if you so wish. Although I recommend using dried chickpeas.
Step 2: Let's get the veggies ready. You can do this while step 1 is going on.
Crush fresh root ginger using a mortar and pestle. If you do not have one, you can finely chop the ginger. Chop bell pepper into cubes. Finely chop tomatoes. If you are using young spinach leaves, there is nothing to be done. If you are using bigger spinach leaves, then, roughly chop them up. Finely chop coriander leaves for garnishing.
Step 3: Let's cook!
Pour oil into a saucepan, turn the heat on, add all the spices and ginger. Do not heat the oil too hot as we don't want to burn the spices. Just warm enough to infuse the goodness of the spices into the oil. Sauté on medium heat, add the chopped peppers and the chopped tomatoes. As the tomatoes start to get soft, add the boiled chickpeas, add salt to taste. Let it simmer for about 10 mins. Mash some of the chickpeas using a potato masher, just to help thicken the curry. Add the spinach in the last two minutes of cook time.
Your simple clean chickpea curry is ready!
All you've got to do now is garnish. Sprinkle the chopped coriander after the heat is off. You do not want to lose the medicinal value of coriander leaves by boiling them.
~ If you would like some sweetness in your curry, you can add a few cubes of sweet potatoes in Step 3. ~ You could also do a variation of this curry with some carrots and mushrooms. ~ If you fancy a creamy one, you can add some coconut cream.
There you go, we are now ready to serve! Enjoy it with some rice or a mix of quinoa rice as I have done or with some fresh bread. Bon appétit!