Chana Masala

Like I've been saying, it's cold here. Really cold. Like, ridiculously cold. I've decided I'm allowed to complain about it until true winter arrives, because technically it's not winter until December 21st. So these temperatures are entirely unacceptable until then.

So, as I was saying, in order to survive these ridiculous temperatures I need to cook very hot, very spicy things. Things that make me feel like I'm in some faraway part of the world where temperatures are more civilized and hotter. Like India, for example.

 A couple days ago, I ventured across the street from my office building to the natural food store that has a delicious hot buffet to check out what lunch options could hopefully heat me up. They had a couple soups (most containing wheat, which thankfully they write down) that I unceremoniously dismissed, and then I saw it.

Right there, in the middle of all the choices, was a fresh pot of Chana Masala. The chickpeas looked so hot and inviting in their obviously spicy and still-simmering dark sauce that I immediately filled up a big cup of it and brought it back to my desk.

Once back in the relative warmth of my office, I shrugged off my coat, sat down, and wrapped my hands around the cup, letting the heat seep through to my frigid palms. Then I dug in. WOWZER. Talk about SPICY. Within a couple bites, I was peeling off layers of clothes and blowing my nose. I had to take breaks in order to make it through the whole cup. And by the end, every inch of my body was warm.

It was everything I had hoped for.

So, of course, I decided I needed to replicate it when I got home. Which I did. The result was a comforting bowl of kick-in-the-pants spiciness. I hope it warms your entire being up as much as it did me!

Chana Masala, adapted from The Food of India

WARNING: This recipe is spicy. Josh literally had sweat rolling down his face as he ate it. We love spicy, so it was a big hit here, but if you would like to tone it down a bit, just omit the green chili and cut down on the chili powder. Although, I recommend it as is. Chana Masala, after all, is supposed to make you sweat a bit.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 inch piece of ginger, grated or finely chopped
1 green chili, finely diced (I only had jalapeno, so I used that instead)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons garam masala
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
4 cups water
4 cups cooked chickpeas, or two 15oz cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 lime
2 teaspoons salt
cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, and chili in the oil until transparent and well-cooked (about 5-8 minutes). Add the spices and cook another two minutes. Add the yogurt and stir another minute. Add the tomatoes and cook another minute or two. Add the water, chickpeas, juice of 1/2 lime, plus the lime, and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, add salt and mix in well. Partially cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove lime and simmer for another 30 minutes, until liquid has reduced some and the sauce is thicker.

Serve piping hot over basmati rice and garnish with cilantro. Eat and be warmed!

Serves four.

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