The word ‘chickpea’ comes from the Latin Cicer, which in turn was named for the Roman politician Cicero. The chickpea is also known as ‘garbanzo’ – the word possibly stemming from the Basque, one of the oldest languages of Europe. First domesticated in Turkey approximately 7,500 years ago, the chickpea has made its way into cuisines all over the world.
Here, they feature prominently in a dish from the Punjab region of northern India. Richly spiced, healthy and accessible, this dish is one of my favorites and I always keep the ingredients on hand.
1 Tbsp amchoor*
1 Tbsp coriander
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp cumin, toasted whole seeds
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp oil
2 onions, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 fresh green chili pepper, seeded and minced
2 c canned tomatoes, chopped*
2/3 c water
4 c chickpeas
1/2-1 tsp salt
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
First prepare the spice mixture. To toast the cumin seeds, heat gently in a small pan on the stovetop, stirring constantly until the aroma is released. Do not use oil. Combine the amchoor, coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala, turmeric, and cayenne in a small bowl.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, and chili pepper and sauté over medium heat until browned. Turn heat down to medium-low and add the spice mixture. Cook for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes. Stir well, scraping the pan as necessary. Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in the salt. Partially cover the pan, turn the heat down to very low, and simmer for up to an hour. Scrape the pan periodically and add more water 1/4 c at a time as necessary.
Sprinkle with the cilantro, and serve over brown basmati rice or with Indian flatbread. Yogurt makes a good condiment.
*A few notes on the ingredients…
Amchoor is made from dried, unripe mango ground to a powder. The flavor is totally unique and in my opinion, cannot be replicated. It can be hard to find. This is the brand I use.
As for the tomatoes, I always use Pomì. Because of their packaging, they taste fresh – without a hint of that nasty metallic flavor found in canned tomatoes. It’s worth it to keep a bunch always in stock.