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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