Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Rice Noodle Salad
Rose Bakery's Potatoes Gribiche

Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez's Chana Punjabi


I have been rendered mute by a chickpea. (Can you say mute when you mean your ability to type?) To be more specific, a jumbo can of chickpeas simmered for close to an hour in a thick, spicy tomato sauce spiked with jalapeño and lemon juice and finished with fresh cilantro (two nights in a row, people - can you believe it?). Mute, I tell you. All I can think to tell you is that I loved this dish, I loved it, and I will make it again and again until the end of time. Who cares that the only Indian take-out place near us stinks? I will never need them again. Who cares that times are tough and money is short? This recipe costs barely anything to make. Who cares that the world has too many people that eat too much meat? I would gladly never eat meat again.

Chana punjabi, I think I love you.

This recipe comes from Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez, who runs darling little Lassi in the West Village and has a way with Indian food that makes me weak in the knees. It is simple: you make a quick tomato sauce, with ginger and garlic and jalapeño and warm spices (garam masala, you make my heart sing), then puree it into a creamy mass. Into that go the drained, rinsed chickpeas (canned! hurrah!) which stew and stew in their sticky, gorgeous sauce while you do other things, like daydream about moving to India. In the last 20 minutes of cooking, bang a pot of rice on the stove and you're pretty much set for the best dinner you'll have all week. (Aren't I presumptuous? What do I know about what you've been eating?)

Apparently, this is meant to serve four people. I answer that by dissolving into bright peals of laughter. Four? Are you serious? Barely even two. We had to settle for a salad after we scraped the pot clean like a pair of Dickensian orphans, and let me tell you that never has a salad been so resented. Next time I'm doubling this recipe. In fact, you should go ahead right now and double the ingredients you'll need to buy to make this yourself - don't even bother making just one batch.

Chana Punjabi
Serves 2

1 tablespoon canola oil or other vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 small Thai bird chili, chopped or 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped or a 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt, or as needed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
Cooked rice for serving (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, heat oil and add onion. Sauté until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and chili, and sauté until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook until tomatoes are very soft, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

2. Purée mixture in blender or food processor until smooth. Return to pan and place over medium heat. Add paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, coriander, the garam masala, turmeric and lemon juice. Add chickpeas and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.

3. Cover and simmer until sauce is thick and chickpeas are soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir pan about every 10 minutes, adding water as needed (up to 1 1/2 cups) to prevent burning. When ready to serve, sauce should be thick. If necessary, uncover pan and allow sauce to reduce for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until desired consistency. Stir in cilantro, adjust salt as needed and serve with cooked rice, if desired.