I don’t know where you are in the world today as you read this, but I am here in Seattle. I’d really like to say it doesn’t rain much here, but when I woke up this morning, the sky was a steel grey and the wind had a chill in it and smelled of decomposing leaves. Right now, there is a steady shower pitter-pattering over rooftops and trickling through open crevasses and smoothing the sky into an infinite fog. When I was working my tiring and thankless 9 to 5 job a few years ago, I remember waking on mornings such as this and wishing I could just stay home and write. There was something comforting about being forced to slow down and stay inside and just reflect. Like when it snows, a steady rain blankets the city and brings the daily sounds to a barely audible hush. People flock to their favorite, cozy corner coffee shops that reek of over-roasted coffee beans, damp backpacks and wet dog. The rain here cocoons us until we no longer need the safety of its protective skin and we leap forth, somewhat ambivalent but convincing ourselves to make another go of it. There’s always a siren to break through the silence or a crass crow cawing, and like that, the world wakes up again.
On days like today, I also dream of warm, steamy and complexly rich foods. I’ve not yet had the fortune of traveling to places like India, but I have always admired the cuisine and its way of toasting spices and bringing ripe flavors together in many colorful and delicious ways. Regretfully, I can’t say I’ve had a lot of curry in my life. Probably the way people say they’ve eaten Mexican or Chinese food, I’ve surely only scratched the surface by dining on American influenced curries. Despite that, I continue to enjoy them and came across a terrific recipe by British cookbook author, Meera Sodha that combines the wonderful aromatics and flavors of things like cumin seeds, ginger and cinnamon stick into a delightful chicken curry that I’ve now even tried with success using various seafood. This next recipe is inspired by the flavors and technique of Meera’s, but a combination I happened upon when I was trying to save myself a trip to the grocery store. Sometimes when all we crave is comfort, we just need to listen and follow the path where our taste buds want to take us.
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced small
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- 1 Tablespoon Madras curry powder
- 1-15.5 oz can chickpeas, rinsed
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup piquillo or roasted red pepper, small dice
- 1/2 cup cilantro, rough chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 4 cups spinach, rough chopped
- kosher salt to taste
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and all of the butter. Gently saute onions until soft, about 2 minutes, then add in ginger and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 more minute. Turn heat down to medium and add in the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick and curry powder. Lightly toast the spices about 1 minute.
- Pour in drained chickpeas, coconut milk and vegetable stock. Stir in red peppers. Let simmer for about 3-4 minutes.
- In another skillet over medium heat, lightly saute spinach with remaining oil and season with salt. (If you prefer, you can also just add the spinach to the chickpea mixture as it's simmering).
- Remove cinnamon stick and serve curried chickpeas over your favorite grains.