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After our trip to the Indian Market last week and trying all of those wonderful dishes at Flavor of India in Plainsboro, I wanted to see what this ol’ Jersey girl could whip up with her new found Indian education. Channa (chick peas) Masala seemed like a surmountable task. And hey, it’s filling and pretty darn economical, right up my alley. Funny thing though, try looking up recipes for Channa Masala on Google. I swear no two are alike. I recalled the version we had at the restaurant was on the thick side, so when I stumbled on a recipe that called for potatoes, I thought this might be closer to what we had. Unfortunately, that recipe had no true measurements (which drives me crazy) and also called for some spices I didn’t have. So, the end result is a combination of two different recipes with a dash of my own discretion. It turned out to be very tasty and more colorful than many of the other varieties thanks to the addition of some frozen chopped spinach. A perfect vegetarian main dish.

Since I am no vegetarian, I served the Channa Masala as a side to some Tandoori Shrimp with Cucumber and Shallot Raita. You can find those recipes on My Feasts. Note on the Shrimp recipe: it is very mild. You may want to add some heat to the marinade if you like things spicy. The Raita really makes the dish special and elegant and is a yummy dip with some Naan. (A Note for those of you who share my lack of culinary shopping options. I found whole wheat Naan at Shoprite and it is very good. Fresh Baked Bread section.) For those of you in Northern New Jersey nestled smugly among oodles of ethnic groceries and fabulous bakeries, I’m sending out a big fat raspberry in your direction. And yes, I used the word “oodles.”

INGREDIENTS

2 (15 oz.) cans of chickpeas – rinsed in a colander

1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes
1 large onion chopped into long thin strips
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized chunks
3 Whole Garlic cloves, peeled
3 Chunks of fresh ginger, peeled
3 Cups Water
1 tsp. Hot Curry Paste or more to taste
2 tsp. Turmeric
2 tsp. Cumin
2 tsp. Hot Madras Curry Powder
1 tsp. Sea Salt
2 or 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups frozen spinach

Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and saute until they start to brown, approximately 7 minutes. Then add the garlic cloves, ginger and tomatoes and simmer for approximately 5 minutes. Add all your spices to the tomato mixture and sautee for another few minutes.

Before adding your potatoes, remove Ginger chunks. Trust me, you won’t be able to tell what is the Ginger and what is the Potato at the end of the cooking. Then, add your potato chunks and just 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Add the strained and drained chick peas and the last cup of water and cook for another 15 minutes. You can add your 1 1/2 cups frozen chopped spinach at the end or anytime during this 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. If you want more spice, add more chili paste or another heat source like red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper. I used a potato masher to mash some of the potato chunks for a thicker sauce.