Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chick peas a la Noonie

I have always had great affection for the chick pea, since I was a little girl. We would go to the Seville diner in East Brunswick, NJ where they had installed a new salad bar, which was a big deal in the 80's.  Anyway, the salad bar was enormous, filled with every possible fresh fruit, vegetable, and homemade combination possible.  I would walk up, circle three times, and then promptly fill my entire bowl with chick peas.  And then go back for seconds.  It made my mom crazy, but I just loved them so much.  

Imagine my surprise as an adult when I learned you could BUY them in the store and have them in your own home, whenever you wanted.  They became my favorite treat, a pick me up for rougher days when I was feeling down and chocolate just wouldn't do.  They are creamy, nutty, soft, and incredibly addictive.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I developed a mild case of gestational diabetes. I had to test my blood 4 times a day, check in with the endocrinologist, eat more frequently, and make significant dietary changes.  While some were less than pleasant (Splenda) there were some nice surprises, particularly that beans apparently can act as a natural sugar regulator.  I gave it a try and would eat 1 cup of chick peas mid day (love those NYC salad bars), an hour after my morning snack and before my main lunch.  Lo and behold, steady and low sugar levels. 

Since then, chick peas are no longer a treat for me, they are a staple.  I eat them often, almost every day, and prepare them for my family at least once a week.  Below is my favorite chick pea recipe - it is a riff on the Indian dish Chana Masala.  I love double up and to serve it over chana dal, dried baby chick peas that you can find in most Indian grocery stores.  Give it a try, and enjoy. 

1 large yellow onion 
5 plum tomatoes 
2 cans  chick peas/garbanzo beans 
2 tbsp canola oil (or as you like) 
2 tsp Garam Masala 
1 tbsp + 1 tsp tsp California garlic powder or 8 cloves fresh garlic 
2 tsp dried ginger or 1 tsp fresh, grated ginger (ginger is optional) 
1 can tomato sauce (15 oz)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup water or milk 

1) Chop onion. Chop and seed tomatoes. Rinse and drain chickpeas. 
2) Heat oil on Medium in a large saute pan. Add onions and garam masala. Saute for 5 - 7 minutes, until onions are soft. Add tomatoes, garlic, ginger and saute another 3 - 5 minutes. 
3) Add chickpeas, tomato sauce, sugar, and 1/2 cup of water or milk. Simmer for 20 minutes. 

Serve hot with any of the following:
  • Baby chick peas (Chana dal)
  • Trader Joe's Harvest Grains Blend
  • Basmati rice
  • Trader Joe's brown rice medley
  • Plain whole milk yogurt
  • Freshly chopped cilantro, mint, or parsley

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