Portable food: Chickpea, Spinach and Tomato Curry
Last week we were going to one of the semi-regular dinner parties hosted by our friend the Tax Advisor. The Tax Advisor loves to host – but he doesn’t cook. For years now he has been hosting these dinner parties in his city centre apartment while the other guests come bearing food and dishes and, on several occasions, spare chairs!
For the first dinner in his new flat, there were eight guests. This time there was no point in bringing spare chairs as the Tax Advisor doesn’t have a table. Or many plates. Or any serving spoons. Or a sharp knife. So, faced with such a lack of utensils, I decided to cook the dish that I was going to bring for dinner at home the night before. As a couple of the guests are vegetarian, it gave me an opportunity to work on one of my favourite meatless recipes from last year – Chickpea and Tomato Curry.
A trawl through the Asian Market on Dublin’s Drury Lane furnished me with a large bunch of spinach – I had decided to turn the curry into a Chickpea, Spinach and Tomato Curry – and I got a similarly generous bunch of fresh coriander at Middle Eastern shop Spiceland, along with the tinned tomatoes. My spice cupboard was well supplied with all the ingredients for an Indian curry (mainly from the Boyfriend’s previous trip to Spiceland) and, as usual, I had soaked too many chickpeas (from more local Middle Eastern shop Al Khyrat in Rathmines) the previous night.
I cooked the curry, from start to finish, in my large cast-iron casserole dish, which also had the advantage of being transportable, adding the garam masala, spinach and coriander at the Tax Advisor’s flat when it was reheating (I forgot the lemon!). I also forgot the natural yoghurt that I normally serve with this although I did remember to bring a large pot of cooked basmati rice which turned out perfectly fluffy despite me:
1) not putting enough water in at first
2) adding more then having to take the pot off the heat to take it across town
3) forgetting about it when we got there, and then
4) landing the whole pot in the oven to warm up.
About the only thing that I did right was in following my rule to not stir the rice AT ALL. Basmati rice seems to be very good natured as long as you don’t mess with it.
We got round the lack of a table by spreading a picnic rug on the floor and laying the feast on top. There was rather a lot of food with my curry only one of (approximately) eight courses – an assortment of Indian starters, bruschetta, asparagus wrapped in Parma ham, vegetarian fajitas, sherry trifle, French pastries with coffee and delicious sangria to finish. Richly replete, we all rolled home – until the next time the Tax Advisor decides to summon us to a co-operative dinner party…
Chickpea, Spinach and Tomato Curry
Onions – 3, finely chopped
Fresh ginger – 4cm, peeled and grated
Garlic – 4 cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Red chillies – 3, seeded and finely chopped
Turmeric – 1 teaspoon
Vegetable oil – 3 tablespoons
Chickpeas – 3 x 400g cans, drained
Tinned tomatoes – 3 x 400g cans
Ground coriander – 2 tablespoon
Chilli powder – 1 teaspoon
Ground cumin – 4 teaspoons
Garam masala – 4 teaspoons
Lemon – 1
Spinach – 750g, washed and chopped
Fresh coriander – small bunch, washed and chopped
Sea salt to taste
Cook the onions, ginger, garlic, chillies and turmeric in the oil until softened and golden. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, ground coriander, chilli powder and ground cumin. Cook over a low heat for 20 minutes.
[At this stage I left it cool overnight, heating it the following evening]
Sprinkle over garam masala and lemon juice and let simmer for five minutes, before adding the spinach and simmering for another five minutes. Season with salt to taste and strew with fresh coriander before serving.
Serves 6-8, with plenty of rice, large dollops of natural yoghurt and warmed naan bread.