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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lemongrass Coconut Chickpea Curry

Something draws me in when I see a Burmese recipe.  It's probably that I have most of the items on hand and I can realistically imagine the outcome before even getting started.  While flipping through my favorite Burma book, I found chickpeas.. and anything involving beans usually ends up showing up at my table.
Another thing I like about Burmese cooking is that it's not just one recipe that you have at a meal, much like Indian cooking.  There are several small dishes filled with various things, some actual dishes, some condiments that can be counted as side dishes, some sauces, some garnishes.  You can always have a little bit of everything in one single meal.  Chinese cooking is similar as well.
Toppings are also extremely important.  Herbal toppings such as mint or cilantro give a refreshing addition to a cooked meal, and others such as fried shallots or crushed peanuts provide a wonderful contrast in texture.  All these little things are what make me tick.
I especially like that I get to make several dishes and intelligently use up the space in my kitchen.
My recipe is very loosely inspired by Naomi Duguid's "Burma: Rivers of Flavor" Chickpea Soup p.97.
Her's was a soup, mine is more like a creamy curry laced with leeks.
Serves 4-6
slow cooker:
1/2 cup dried white chickpeas, soaked overnight
1/2 cup dried black chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 leek, sliced
1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
1 inch piece ginger, grated
2 bay leaves
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 slice galangal (mine was dried)
2 thai chiles
1 tsp coarse sea salt (mine was from Camargue)
3-4 cups water
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
6-7 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 can coconut milk
1 Tbsp tamarind paste
juice from 1/2 lime
crushed peanuts
fried shallots
sesame seeds
chopped cilantro (which I didn't have but I should have had)
1.  Place all the "slow cooker" ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for 7-9 hours.  The chickpeas should be tender.
2.  Heat the oil on high in a wok and fizz the turmeric.  Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring for about 3-5 minute or until shallots are colored.
3.  Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
4.  Stir in the tamarind and lime.  Simmer for about 5 minutes, then pour the sauce into the chickpeas.  5.  Stir to even out the sauce throughout the chickpeas.  Remove the bay leaves and galangal piece before serving.

Serve garnished with any or all of the listed toppings.
I served mine alongside some Stir-Fried Cabbage and a mix of brown basmati and red rice.

Mixing chickpeas with coconut milk is probably one of the most genius ideas our Earth has produced..

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