Chana Masala

Life’s been hectic! I constantly feel as if there are not enough hours in the day, even on weekends. Especially on weekends. I’m busy at work and in my personal life. Work intruded upon personal life this evening when I got home late. Waiting for me was an unhungry Smark, who confessed he’d filled up on tomato sandwiches all day. (We love tomato season in this household!) When Mark is not hungry or eating elsewhere, that ordinarily means Indian food, yay! But I was hungry and it was late, so I didn’t want to spend a long time making some authentic, perfectly spiced, slow cooked meal just for myself. What I did want to do, however, was use up the cooked chickpeas I had in the refrigerator, so I decided to make an easy, low-stress chana masala, which is Fortinbras’ favorite Indian meal. The “easy” part is that I didn’t measure any of the spices, although I’ve tried to estimate the amounts. Interestingly, midway through my meal, Mark showed up exclaiming, “that smells good; can I have some?” He then proceeded to have two servings, which he does every time I make Indian food. So how he can go around saying he doesn’t like Indian food is beyond me. Anyway, here’s what I did:

Chana Masala

3/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp asafoetida (this doesn’t usually go in channa masala, but I love the taste and even the smell of it; you can omit it)
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp (or to taste) cayenne pepper
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp amchoor (dried mango powder; can substitute lemon juice, which you would add at the end of the cooking time)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground ginger (I was too lazy to use fresh, which I would ordinarily do)
1 tsp (or to taste) salt
4 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup frozen peas, optional (I like to have at least a bit of green in everything I make)

Heat some oil in a pot, like a Dutch oven, over medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they begin to pop, then turn the heat down and add the fenugreek and cook for a few seconds or so. Then add the cumin seeds, garlic, and asafoetida (if using) and cook about a minute. Next, turn the heat back up a bit and add the onions, turmeric, and cayenne and cook for about 7 or 8 minutes, or until the onions are well-cooked. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, amchoor, garam masala, paprika, ginger, and salt, and about half a (tomato) can of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are starting to break down. Add the chickpeas and cook for about 30 minutes, adding a half-cup or so of water if it gets too dry. Adjust the seasonings. If using, add the peas and cook until they are heated through. If you don’t have amchoor, add some lemon juice for tang.

I served it with roti.

Wow, I feel I’ve posted so infrequently this busy summer that we need to catch up! I made my first batch of beer and it was really good! So good I wish I’d made a lot more than a gallon. I’ve also been baking bread from the spent grains, which I’ve been dying to do ever since Peter Reinhart raved about it in Whole Grain Breads. I tried nagging the few people I know who have made beer before to make some more so I could have the grains, but finally I decided to just make my own damn beer! I can’t wait to make more. Any fellow brewers out there?

I got my copy of Papa Tofu Loves Ethiopian Food and I can’t wait to make everything in it! If I use it half as frequently as I use the original Papa Tofu, it’ll be worth far more than I spent on it. If you love Ethiopian food, you will love this zine. If you’ve never had Ethiopian food, now’s the time to find out what you’ve been missing!.

Mark has taken an interest in cooking and been making our Sunday meals for a couple of weeks now, which is nice because I’ve been so busy, especially on Sundays. He kept declining my requests to do a post until he surprised himself with his awesome summer roll-making skills yesterday and announced he may do a post after all. He submitted what he described as “the first chapter” of his upcoming post to me today and all I can say is, um, prepare yourselves. I’m not sure what you should do to prepare yourselves, but you may want to brew your own batch of beer and drink a few before attempting to read Mark’s manifesto theory of the universe science fiction novel recipe for summer rolls. In the meantime, here is his first Sunday meal: nutloaf.

Torticia is fat! She doesn’t overeat, so I’ve been trying to make her exercise more, with varying degrees of success. One thing I do is play “the food game” with them. The rules of this game are I throw pieces of dry food across the floor and they have to run after it and eat it. Their little chomping of each tiny bit of kibble reminds me of Pac-Man. They love this game and demand to play it several times a day. I try to get Tortilla Chip to run up and down the stairs as much as I can.

Gomez waits patiently.

She’s fat, but she can run.

And now, for your enjoyment, here are some pictures of raccoons, who are responsible for taking up a lot of my precious time, not that I’m complaining:


  1. Josiane Said,

    August 2, 2011 @ 11:53 am

    Your quick and easy channa masala sounds delicious!
    Baking your bread using the grains that were used to make your beer? I love the idea! I suspect that my beer- and bread-loving of a gentleman friend would like it too…
    I’m looking forward to Mark’s post! It sounds like it will be worth the wait. 🙂

  2. Jes Said,

    August 2, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

    I seriously can’t handle looking at the raccoon pictures at work–they make me squee way way way too much 🙂 And cute little fat Tortica! I’ve been working on making Dorian exercise too, now that she can finally eat out of a timed feeder without M around.

    As for the Chana Masala, it looks amazing! I’m always hunting around for quick and easy Indian recipes, so I’m definitely bookmarking this one. Mmm Indian food!

  3. FoodFeud Said,

    August 2, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

    More baby raccoons! I love it!
    It’s been far too long since I’ve had Indian food; your take on it sounds great. Also – I LOVE your James Joyce pint glass! I’m a big Joyce nerd. Where did you find that??

  4. renae Said,

    August 2, 2011 @ 10:08 pm

    FoodFeud, I know, it’s an awesome glass, isn’t it?! It’s from a Bloomsday celebration hosted by the Peabody Library at Johns Hopkins University, maybe 12 or 13 years ago.

  5. kittee Said,

    August 2, 2011 @ 10:31 pm

    send a picture of you and papa tofu! so glad you received it, i hope you love it. those are some damn adorable raccoons and your quick n easy chana made me laugh, because it involved more than three spices–which is how i do mine.


  6. Suburban Snow White Said,

    August 7, 2011 @ 10:52 am

    So maybe I missed an earlier post, but what is the deal with the cute raccoons? How did this come about?

    Ethiopian? GREAT reminder. I’ve been meaning to make some of that cuisine.

  7. renae Said,

    August 9, 2011 @ 9:03 pm

    Suburban Snow White – I’ve been volunteering at a raccoon sanctuary. If you click on the raccoons tag there are a few other posts about it.

  8. Jenny Said,

    August 11, 2011 @ 3:29 pm


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