Way back in mid-December, before all the holiday craziness, we had a big party “celebrating” Max’s impending medical student loan bill.  We served inexpensive eats and asked everyone to bring their favorite cheap beer.  We still haven’t finished the Old German, Schlitz, and Knights Head.  Luckily we also went to a fabulous beer exchange in December and stocked up on two mixed cases of craft beer.  Maggie kindly guarded the beer exchange booty and left the Schlitz and Old German for someone else.

Beer exchange

Despite the perhaps lackluster beverages, people seemed to have a good time at our officially christened Repayment Party, and one key element was a chickpea curry that I created for our vegetarian friends.  Many non-veggies enjoyed it, and four or five people asked me for the recipe.

This is heavily adapted from a chicken shahi korma recipe in Curries for a Cause, a small benefit recipe collection my cousin gave me for Christmas a few years back.  All of the recipes are by Indian women and girls, and this particular recipe is by a 15 year old named Jyoti Nehria.  I never could have produced something so sohisticated when I was 15, let alone get it published!

Also, please don’t be scared of all the spices.  Take the advice of Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen on her recent chana masala recipe.  If you buy all the spices you need to make Indian dishes you’ll save tons of money in the long run.

Chickpea Shahi Korma adapted from Curries for a Cause

1 cup yogurt (I use 2% Greek, very affordable at Trader Joe’s)
2 15.5 ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I have also substituted 1 and 1/2 cups of frozen spinach for one of the cans of chickpeas.)
2 tsp turmeric powder
10 almonds
20 cashew nuts
2 tsp powdered ginger or more to taste
8 garlic cloves
4 tbsp oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
3 onions, diced
1 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp salt or more to taste
1 tsp garam masala (I got mine at Penzeys)
2 cups tomato puree, fresh or canned
2-4 tbsp butter

Mix yogurt and 1 tsp of the turmeric with the chickpeas and set aside.

Grind almonds and cashews into a thick paste in your food processor and set aside.  Next grind garlic and ginger into a paste and also set aside.

Heat oil in a dutch oven.  Fry coriander and cumin for a few second and then add the garlic/ginger paste.  Cook until golden brown.  Next add onions and cook until golden brown, stirring frequently.  Add remaining turmeric, chili powder, salt, and garam masala and cook for about a minute.  Add tomato puree and cook for three minutes.  Finally incorporate the nut paste and cook five minutes longer, stirring occasionally.

Add yogurt/chickpea mixture and then the butter, stirring to melt.  Stir in frozen spinach if using.  Simmer for ten minutes or longer until curry noticeably thickens. 

Serve with basmati rice and naan.