Monday, May 12, 2014

Saag-Chhole: Chickpea or Garbanzo Beans with Spinach

Another successful attempt at masking the leafy greens and this was a part of the all-vegetarian fare that I had cooked for our ground-floor pure vegetarian neighbors! If you like it spicy all you need to do is throw in a couple of more green chilies when you are making the spinach-cilantro paste. I knew that the neighbors love their food hot and spicy, so I made two versions of this - one with less heat (for the 4.5 year old and I) and one with more heat.
Whenever I make a paste in the mixer using onions, I prefer frying the onions first just until they turn translucent - that way there is no risk of the onions turning bitter. I have had the bitter experience of my onion paste turning bitter in the paste so I always, always first lightly fry the onions and then make a paste. If you want to skip the frying part then just grate the onions. 

  • Chickpea/Garbanzo Beans: 1 Cup
  • Spinach - 1 1/4 Cup (I used frozen)
  • Cilantro - 1/2 Cup
  • Onions - 1/2 Cup sliced + 1/2 Cup chopped
  • Garlic - 1 fat garlic clove, whole + 1 fat garlic clove, chopped
  • Tomato - 1/4 Cup + 1/4 Cup, chopped
  • Chilies - 1 (or more)
  • Whole Garam Masala - 1 inch Cinnamon Stick, 3 green cardamoms and 4 cloves
  • Cumin Powder - 1 tsp
  • Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
  • Whole Garam Masala Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Paprika - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil - 1 tsp + 1 tsp + 1 tbsp
  • Water - Enough for boiling Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans + 1 1/2 Cups

In a medium bowl soak 1 Cup of Chickpea/Garbanzo beans with 2 Cups of water overnight. Next day, get rid of the excess water and give the chickpeas a quick rinse. Pressure cook the chickpeas along with 2 Cups of water and a teaspoonful of salt till done.
Heat 1 tsp of  oil in a pan and quickly fry the sliced onions till they turn translucent. Take it off the heat and keep aside. Now bring out the mixer and throw in the thawed spinach (squeeze out as much water as possible), cilantro, one fat garlic clove, one green chili (more if you prefer more heat), 1/4 Cup chopped tomatoes, 1 tsp of oil along with the cooked onions and pulse till you get a smooth paste. Add a tablespoon of water only if absolutely necessary. 
In a wok or a kadai, heat 1 tbsp of oil and temper it with the Whole Garam Masala. Fry the chopped onions and chopped garlic. Once fragrant, add the chopped tomatoes along with the masalas (powders) and salt to taste. Cook for few minutes. Pour in the spinach-cilantro paste and cook till it changes color to a darker green. Add the cooked chickpea/garbanzo beans and stir till nicely incorporated. Add the 1 1/2 Cups of water and cook for about 8-10 minutes till some of the liquid evaporates and the chickpeas sit in a slurry of spinach gravy.
Enjoy with plain rice, paratha or roti! I had served it with Jeera Rice. 

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