Hing is the Indian name for asofetida, which together with a big, fat, grated root of fresh turmeric is the spice that gives the most to the flavour of this chick pea curry. Many recipes have asofetida thrown in to the hot oil at the beginning of cooking, together with the other dried spices and chillies. However The VegHead finds that its flavour is overcome and lost if this is done, and prefers instead to sprinkle a little in once most of the cooking has been done.
Friday’s are the principal shopping day for the VegHead larder, and so Thursday nights tend to be “whatever is left” night. A shiny black-skinned aubergine begged to be eaten, and a pile of orange sweet potatoes just cried out to be culled somewhat. These, together with the big jar of chick peas in the fridge formed the basis for dinner.
The Thursday night larder:
- 1 medium aubergine – cubed
- 1 medium sweet potato – cubed
- 1 cup of cooked chick peas
- 1 small onion – diced
- 2 cloves of garlic – chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes – chopped
- 1 chilli – chopped
- 1 thumb sized turmeric root (substitute 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder if unavailable)
- 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon of coriander seeds
- small pinch of fenugreek seeds
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1 clove
- 1/2 teaspoon of asofetida powder
- 1 tablespoon of miso (or substitute vegetable stock)
- sunflower oil
- corn flour (or other thickening agent)
- dry roast the spice seeds for 10 minutes or so, then grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle
- roughly mash the chick peas with a “potato masher”
- fry the dried spices, chilli, onion and garlic over a low heat for a few minutes (if using powdered turmeric add at this stage too)
- add the chick peas, sweet potato, and aubergine. Mix thoroughly and cook covered over a low heat for several minutes
- add the tomato and miso, and enough water to cover. Bring to a steady, low simmer and maintain until the sweet potato and aubergine are tender but not mushy
- if using fresh turmeric root, grate and add now (best to only grate fresh turmeric root just before using or it browns quickly through oxidisation). Also add the asofetida powder. Simmer for another few minutes.
- thicken the sauce. The easiest way to do this is to scoop out the vegetables into a bowl using a slotted spoon, leaving just the sauce in the pan (off the heat). Then spoon out a little of the sauce into a small bowl, add a little corn flour, and mix all the lumps out with a fork. Then add the corn flour mix back into the rest of the sauce in the pan, and mix through thoroughly over a low heat. Then add the vegetables back in. This might sound fussy but it ensures a lump-free thickening experience at the expense of two extra bowls and a slotted spoon in the washing up.
- bring the saucepan back to a low simmer
- serve with rice or idli