Chris and I decided that we would serve an Indian dinner to our travel wary guests the night before our wedding. We chose to make Indian food because Chris’ mother and all of her brothers and sisters grew up in India. Chris has also lived in India and he and I got engaged while traveling in Rajasthan. Also, Indian food is so inexpensive compared to western food and yet it tastes special and luxurious. If you ever need to feed a large group of people on a budget Indian food is the way to go!
When I started planning the menu for the Indian meat I thought of Rima’s stew right away. A couple of years back, I was in charge of organizing two weeks of group meals for the International Toy Theater Festival. My friend and artistic collaborator, Rima Fand volunteered to cook the meal one night and she make this stew to feed forty puppeteers. It was delicious and she made enough that I was able to freeze the leftovers and serve it again the next week with baked samosas. It was actually even better the second time, because stews really like to sit around and blend. She also came in WAY under budget. So, I knew that Rima could make enough of this stew to feed at least 80 people. I knew that it would benefit from being made in advance and re-heated which would help with the kitchen logistics. It is a tasty, healthful, dairy and gluten-free dish that everyone could eat and it’s made with relatively inexpensive ingredients. Perfect!
Rima sent me the recipe in advance and I gathered all of the ingredients. I asked the earliest arriving friends, who were cooking all day Thursday, to chop and prep the ingredients for Rima’s dish, so that she wouldn’t be up all night making stew. This may have been a bit of a mistake on my part…since like most good home cooks, Rima doesn’t usually follow the recipe exactly. When the stew was finished it was delicious, but much spicier than usual. Those of us who like spicy food stood over the pot eating spoonfuls of it, smacking our lips and saying “ah that’s GOOD!”, but I was worried that some of the folks at the wedding would find it too hot. We took a portion of the stew and added onions and potatoes to it so that we had a spicy and a mild version.
I will write out the “official” recipe here. If you are concerned about the heat level, remove the seeds form the peppers (that’s the spicy part)….but use a spoon or small knife, not your fingernails! My poor cousin Carolyn had burning fingertips from helping make this dish. Rima recommends leaving out the cayenne pepper.
This is the second Indian recipe of Rima’s that I have posted on this blog and the other one was Indian too. Rima isn’t Indian but I think that she has knack for this cuisine! I highly recommend Rima’s Indian Inspired Green Beans as side dish for your Thanksgiving or Christmas meal.
RIMA’S GINGERED CHICKPEAS WITH EGGPLANT, SPINACH and TOMATO
- 8 Tablespoons ghee (we used mild oil so that it would be dairy free)
- 1 medium-sized eggplant
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 2 green chilies, seeded and minced
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon asafetida (I don’t think that Rima used this)
- 1 and 1/2 cups seeded chopped tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 Tablespoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon tumeric
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups chick peas
- 1 pound spinach (washed trimmed and chopped)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
1. Heat 6 tablespoons of the ghee or oil in a large nonstick frying pan or wok over moderate heat. When it is hot but not smoking, add the eggplant and fry, stirring frequently, until it is browned and offers no resistance to the point of a knife. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee or oil and raise the heat to moderately high. When it is hot but not smoking, add the ginger, chilies and cumin seeds and fry until the seeds turn dark brown. Drop in the asafetida and seconds later the tomatoes. Stir well, then add the ground coriander, paprika, cayenne, black pepper and turmeric. Cook until the tomatoes are reduced to a sauce that separates from the oil (up to 10 minutes depending on the intensity of your heat).
3. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the eggplant, chickpeas, fresh spinach, salt, and half of the fresh coriander. Cover and gently simmer for about 30 minutes. If you are using frozen spinach, add during the last 10 minutes of cooking. The dish is now cooked, but you could cook it for another 1½ hours if you want a thicker consistency. Before serving, stir in the remaining fresh herb and the garam masala.