Monday, November 8, 2010

Think Pink: Indian Chickpeas & Greens

Sometimes life throws you a curve ball.  And sometimes that curve ball smacks you right upside the head and gives you one doozer of a bruise.

It's painful. And ugly. And even though you know that the bruise will heal, it can be pretty rough to walk around with a big purple goose egg on the side of your head for weeks on end.  But, you do. Maybe you try to cover it up with make-up. Or a hat. Maybe you decide to make the most of things, and you wear that nasty old bruise like a badge of honor.  It's true, after all, that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Eventually, the bruise heals and your life goes back to normal. But, when you're in the moment... it's pretty difficult not to be at least a little bit angry with the cards you've been dealt.

My point is, sometimes life doesn't go quite as you expect. And often cooking is an adventure that brings unpredictable results. Take for instance, the chickpeas & greens I made a few weeks back.

It started innocently enough.  I spied a gorgeous bunch of Asian Red Spinach at the market. And I decided I needed to take it home. After all, greens are GOOD. They're healthy. And they're versatile. Before whisking the beautiful purple-and-green-tinted leaves into my market bag, I did manage to ask a few basic questions.  Was it bitter? (no)  Stronger flavored than regular spinach? (slightly)  Did it cook down similarly? (yes)  Would it be recommended to eat the stems? (no)

What I failed to ask was -- is it going to turn my dinner pink?

Honestly, I should have suspected it.  But, I didn't.  In fact, I didn't realize the dish was going the way of Candy Land until I started to stir the kefir into the greens... and slowly, fantastically, that gorgeously fuschia color started to seep out of the spinach leaves and into the yogurt.  The chickpeas started to glow like some sort of iridescent pink light bulbs. The pink turned from fuschia. To salmon. To a color which verged upon red. And I began to wonder if I was going to be able to bear the thought of taking the leftovers of this dinner in to work the next day.

Truth is, as disturbing as they looked, the chickpeas and greens tasted positively fabulous.  The garam masala, coriander, and curry powder danced amid minced ginger and garlic. The fresh tomato brought forth a pleasantly sweet acidity, while the tartness of the kefir kept things lively.  The chickpeas & spinach gave the dish substance -- and yes, that sauce (pink and all) was just amazing when soaked into a nice warm piece of flatbread.  If you appreciate the rich, intoxicating flavors of Indian food, you'll love this easy weeknight dish.  And if you don't want that lovely pink hue, my suggestion would be that you stick to using regular old spinach.

Whatever you decide, there's a lesson to be learned here. Whether it's cooking or living, it pays to be flexible. And adventurous. After all, you never know what kind of delicious things are waiting behind that putridly pink facade.

Indian Chickpeas & Greens

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  1. Lovely dish..You have given me some ideas on making it differently. Since it is a native dish here, we generally end up making it the traditional way - a kind of stir fry with garlic, loads of onion and green chillies.

  2. Sounds delicious, and love that you feature the not-so-perfect dishes!

  3. Lol, its like whenever I make anything with beets!

  4. Something similar happened to me the last time I used red swiss chard. Turned everything pink. Everything. Personally, I think it's kind of cute. In a very radioactive waste kind of way. And as long as it tastes, good - who cares!

  5. Oh, that's hilarious! I was just thinking last night about THE least photogenic dishes (all manner of curry, for instance. Hummus isn't that pretty either) but I hadn't pictured pink greens.

    And can I just say that you get the most amazing things at your market.

  6. "...I didn't realize the dish was going the way of Candy Land" Lol. Ya. Pink isn't exactly a color you see in food, unless it's frosting on a cake. But hell, I bet it would be a good way to get my kids to eat it!

    I love Indian food - garam masala, chickpeas, spinach - all sounds good to me. Pink or not.

  7. LOL! This has happened to me before with beet greens! It is hard to stomach at first, but it tastes the same as it would without the color!

  8. I bet you Dr. Seuss could write a story about this dish and everybody would end up trying it and liking it! What an amazing color--I'd a never thunk it. Sounds yummerlicious.

  9. LOL, lo..I love your write up! I LOL'd at your dinner turning pink. Actually, it's very pretty, sort of along the lines of blue mashed potatoes lol Seriously, the combo of flavors and texture is yummy! LOVE chickpeas. Well done!

  10. I love beet greens with pasta, but I'm not so fond of the pink color the pasta takes on. Pink or not, your chickpeas sound delicious!

  11. That's kind of the joy of trying something new in the kitchen, isn't it? It might turn out to be surprising in more than one way - good, bad, or simply delicious yet alarmingly colored. Makes for some vivid photography (and some tough stains to get out of tablecloths), but like Lisa (is cooking), we've used that brightness in beets to color ricotta in ravioli to great effect. That said, we were expecting it to turn purple. Sounds delicious!

  12. What a great dish to get kids to eat! Kids love crazy colored foods....:) Sounds delish!

  13. Um, yes please! Count me in for this, and any other Indian-inspired dish you care to post about. And also the previous post's lamb burger!!



  14. What a great post! I'm trying to learn how to be more flexible (both in life and in the kitchen!) I love the thought of flatbread drenched in that pink sauce...yum! Thank you for sharing...I hope your Friday is full of joy.


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