The Taste of India: Very Spicy, Delicious Chickpeas

Vegetarian recipes to warm your palate.

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This dish, a staple street food of the bazaars of Old Delhi, is wonderfully tart and hot. It requires two similar spice blends, one added to the browned onions and garlic, the other toward the end of the cooking time. Amchoor (powdered green mango) lends a haunting sourness. If you can’t find this ingredient, substitute the juice and pulp of a small lime (the dish is also delicious without either). You may use sweet Hungarian paprika as a substitute for Kashmiri red pepper; ­either will give color but no heat. For the garam masala, try one of the recipes on page 32.

These spicy chickpeas can be made up to two days ahead of time. In fact, their flavor improves if they are left, refrigerated, for at least 24 hours.

• 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 medium-sized onions, peeled and minced
• 8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
• 1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
• 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
• 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
• 6 tablespoons finely chopped, skinned, fresh or canned red-ripe tomatoes
• 2 20-ounce cans chickpeas, drained, or 41/4 cups home-cooked chickpeas
• 2 teaspoons ground roasted cumin seeds
• 1 tablespoon ground amchoor, or the juice and pulp of a small lime (optional)
• 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red pepper
• 1 teaspoon garam masala
• 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
• 1 tablespoon or more lemon juice
• 1 fresh hot green chili, minced (use more or less as desired)
• 2 teaspoons very finely grated fresh ginger

Heat the oil in a wide pot over a medium flame. When hot, put in the minced onions and garlic. Stir and fry until the mixture is a rich medium brown shade. Turn heat to medium low and add the coriander, cumin (not the roasted cumin), cayenne, and turmeric. Stir for a few seconds. Now put in the finely chopped tomatoes. Stir and fry until the tomatoes are well amalgamated with the spice mixture and brown lightly. Add the drained chickpeas and 1 cup water. Stir. Add the ground roasted cumin, amchoor, red pepper, garam masala, salt, and lemon juice. Stir again. Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove cover and add the minced green chili and grated ginger. Stir and cook, uncovered, for another 30 seconds.

— Madhur Jaffrey, originator of these recipes, was born in Delhi, India. At age 20, after graduating from Delhi University, she went to England to study drama. There, homesick for India and disappointed in the school’s bleak fare, she finally began learning Indian cooking from recipes that her mother sent from India. Since she arrived in New York in the early 1960s, she has been enlightening Americans on Indian cooking and culture through lectures, a television series, and several books.

Recipes copyright 1981 by Madhur Jaffrey. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

For more recipes from The Taste of Indiaclick here.