Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bean Jazz #4, Chana Masala

When I moved to Chicago in 1986 my roommate Steve had a buddy from Mumbai named Sandip who was a student at Loyola University. I never met anyone like Sandip, before or since. In the hallway of our apartment, he could put one hand on each wall and climb up to the ceiling, putting his back against the ceiling and he would look down at us and laugh. For fun, early one Sunday morning, Sandip found a vertical nook in a 20-story building and shimmied up the side of the building with one hand on each side of nook, right to the top. He shimmied down without incident but I hear he startled some poor soul on the 16th floor. Sandip had a fabulous handlebar mustache and once won the “Best Mustache” contest at Pump Boys and Dinettes, a long-running musical in Chicago. On top of all that, Sandip was a great cook. This dish was inspired by my friend Sandip. I lost touch with Sandip but I think of him every time I eat chana masala.

This recipe makes a heapin helpin but it freezes very well it’s easy to cut in half. If you don't have a Trader Joe's near you, I'm sorry for you. But you can find lots of masala information here.

Chana Masala a la Bean Jazz
2 cups (dry) regular brown rice
5 medium onions
1/2 cup canola oil
8 cups cooked garbanzo beans (1 #10 can)
2 jars Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 heaping teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pound frozen peas, warmed

1. Start cooking the brown rice your usual way. (Generally 3.5-4 cups water, add the rice, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cook 40-45 minutes).
2. Coarsely chop 5 medium onions.
3. Cook half the onions on high heat 7-8 minutes in 1/2 cup canola oil, set aside the other half of the onions.
4. Add the garbanzo beans, masala sauce, tomatoes, curry powder and suger to the pot and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, reduce to a healthy simmer.
5. Go enjoy a beverage for 15-20 minutes.
6. Saute the other half of the onions in a bit of oil until they are just soft but still have some firmness or pop to them.
7. Warm up the frozen peas but don’t really cook them.
8. When the rice is ready, add the peas and onions to the pot, stir it up.
9. Add rice until the rice/bean ratio is how you like it. I usually add a bit less than the whole two cups of rice.
10. Scoop it out and enjoy.

And a word about the "Jazz" in Bean Jazz. Each movie has as a soundtrack a song that moves me. What you'll hear in #4 is by Stanton Moore, a New Orleans drummer known for his work in the funk band Galactic. The CD "All Kooked Out!" by Stanton Moore is right up my alley, funky, soulful jazz. Great for cooking or eating beans.

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