Now that my son Hugh is a full time cheesemonger, he doesn't get to spend much time at our cottage during the summer. He was with us this past weekend, and as always it was a pleasure. Not just because he plays scrabble, boggle and crokinole with me, mostly beating me I might add, but because he loves to cook and eat and I often learn something from him. He is vegetarian and not such a long time ago was a poverty stricken university student, so I thought he would be valuable in helping me work out a one pot meal that would be fast, easy, nutritious, delicious and cheap. And it proved to be the case.
He eats a lot of tofu and I'm always encouraging him to add more legumes to his diet, so I decided on something with chickpeas. I had in my mind a recipe from Julie Sahni's cookbook Classic Indian Cooking as a starting point and we made up our own version. I had some dried Mexican chilies that Hugh had brought from his store. I've always rehydrated chilies, but Hugh put them in the bottom of a dry pan until they were fragrant, chopped them finely added a bit of olive oil and then crushed them with a mortar and pestle until they made a paste. We had some leftover rice and carrots from the night before and tossed them in as well. You could add vegetables such as zucchini or cauliflower as well.
We ate this with pappadums, but you could serve it with any Indian flatbread, or pita bread or you could serve it over rice. It was fabulous the first night and even better the next day. You could simply reheat it and take it in a thermos for lunch, or you could add some water or vegetable stock and puree it into a soup.
I know that the initial cash outlay in setting up your kitchen can be a lot, but once you have spices and pantry items in place it really is much cheaper and healthier to cook for yourself than heading to the university cafeteria. This meal served three of us with leftovers and cost about $3.50 for the whole thing.
1 tbsp vegetable oil 1 onion, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 tsp mustard seed 1 dried chili, or 1/2 tsp chili flakes 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp turmeric 1 tsp coriander seed 1 tbsp salt, or to taste 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed 2 ripe tomatoes, diced or 1 cup canned tomatoes, roughly chopped 1 tbsp chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
1. Heat oil in a large pot and add onions and garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. If you are an exacting cook like Hugh, prepare the chili as above, adding the mustard seeds to the mortar and pestle as well. If you are a lazy cook like me add all the spices to the pot and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
3. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes. Serve with bread or rice. Add cilantro garnish if using.
Difficulty Level: Easy