Friday, June 26, 2009

Greens and Beans

Connections are everything, they say. "It's not what you know; it's who you know". Apparently, the right connections can get you a job, a business contract, all kinds of opportunities in life. But the very best connections, as far as I am concerned, are my foodie connections, this network of bloggers that are all tied together by their passion for food and cooking whether or not they have anything else in common. These connections can get you the things that really matter ;)

One such connection landed me a lot of goodies only a few weeks ago. While I was in Mumbai, I got a warm invitation to visit the home of the Saffron Trail. Nandita cooked a wonderful dinner for V and me and we enjoyed several hours of engaging gup-shup even though we had never set eyes on each other before that evening. Before I left, Nandita generously gave me some fantastic gifts, one of which was a nondescript packet of masala powder called "Goldiee chhole ka masala". With a gleam in her eye, she promised me that this is a fantastic spice blend and you need nothing other than the basic onion and tomato gravy to make a authentic mouth-watering chana masala with this stuff.

She wasn't kidding! These Goldiee people know the formula, for sure. I made what tastes like a complex restaurant-style curry using basic pantry staples like black chickpeas, frozen spinach, garlic, tomatoes and onions. If you don't have this brand, use your own favorite brand of chana masala powder, or perhaps a home-made mix.

Palak Chana


1 C black chickpeas, soaked for 8 hours, then cooked until tender
½ bag frozen leaf spinach
½ large onion, sliced thinly
½ t turmeric powder
1 t chana masala powder (or more/less to taste)
salt to taste
2 t oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ large onions, coarsely chopped
3 C canned whole tomatoes (with juice)

1. Make the gravy: Saute onions in oil until golden brown, add garlic and saute for couple of minutes, add tomatoes and saute for 5 minutes. Let the mixture cool for a bit, then grind together into a thick paste.
2. To make the curry, heat the oil and saute the sliced onion until golden.
3. Add the salt, turmeric and chana masala powder. Saute for a minute.
4. Add the spinach, cooked chickpeas and tomato-onion gravy. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Make this curry a day ahead of serving if possible- the taste improves overnight!

To go with the rich chana masala, I used Shilpa's recipe for a fragrant pulao studded with whole spices. My only tweak was to use blanched almonds instead of cashews because that is what I had on hand. On a whim, I skipped the usual golden raisins and added some dried mixed berries (cherries, strawberries, blueberries) instead.

If I survive another day of this ongoing heat wave in St. Louis, I'll be back with a recipe for a summer drink.


  1. Hi Nupur
    I was working on my blog and happened to stop by ur blog to put your samosas in one of must try dishes...and after coming here I felt like all your dishes look so yummy and looks like each and every one of your creations should be a must try!!!!!!!!

  2. I haven't had the good fortune of meeting up with a blogging buddy yet. I'm sure it would be a lovely experience. Hm..channa masala packet was good? I've never heard of that brand.I love spinach in channa masala. What a complete dish.

  3. Man! What an awesome spread! The masala sounds like it must be worth its weight in gold. Am drooling. Rice looks to be a perfect compliment to it. As for the heat, it's been so annoyingly wet and cool here, that I'd love to have some heat right about now! :)

  4. Wow that palak chana looks so good Nupur...I live in Bombay but never got to see that brand so far..I will keep my eye on this brand next time I visit any grocery store...

  5. looks like everyone is talking about the heat these days... phew! hot hot hot in singapore too..

  6. It's so nice to have you back blogging :)....

  7. Yum - it looks delicious Nupur! Chickpeas, spinach, tomato, onion, etc. - what's not to love? I've never had black chickpeas, but I have seen them in the store, so I'll be trying this soon!

  8. How fun getting to meet Nandita! I'd love to meet her. This recipe looks amazing too!

  9. Oh I didn't know you have been back!! So good to see you :)

    The chole curry and pulao combination looks wonderful - that must be one secret recipe for masala!


  10. its nice to meet a fellow blogger isnt it? loved the palak channa dish, looks delicious!

  11. Whatever's in that special spice blend surely looks delicious. I'm not very knowledgeable about Indian cooking, so how can I choose a good chana masala spice? I know it's probably best to make my own, but I'm more likely to try a store-bought mix first.

  12. Ah! you are back and blogging! Good to see u here again.
    The dishes look fab!

  13. BDSN- That's a very nice thing to say- thank you!

    Bharti- Oh, I've been lucky to meet so many bloggers in person and I must say they are all fantastic people. You live only one state over- come over and meet me :)

    Kalai- The masala really is a tasty blend. I'm happy to swap places with you...wet and cool sounds very enticing right about now.

    Prathibha- The brand is made is Kanpur (that's what it says on the box) so perhaps it is not easily available in Bombay?

    Nags- Yes, the heat is stifling us here.

    Mathangi- It is very nice to be blogging again :) And I hope all is well with you!

    Cathy- Black chickpeas are smaller than the regular ones, and very tasty. Either kind would work great in this recipe...I just used what was on hand.

    Kalyn- It really was fun getting to meet her. With food bloggers, you always feel like you are meeting old friends, right?

    Miri- Glad to see you here too :) This combination of the chole and pulao really was tasty and satisfying.

    Parita- Thanks, it tasted wonderful.

    Lydia- Actually, store bought spice mixes can be wonderful and give you very authentic results.
    Choosing a good chana masala spice is a subjective thing and mostly about seeking out different brands and giving them a try until you find one that you love. I have used Badshah Chana Masala with very tasty results and this is a widely available brand.

    Sangeetha- Thank you :)

  14. Good to see you blogging again, Nupur! That chana masala sure looks fabulous!

  15. As the recipient of this Palak Chana, I could only thank my lucky stars. Thank you for lunch and I will try to make the recipe!

  16. hi nupur

    the rice looks aboslutely fantastic, i just wish i cud try it with all the dried burries but unfortunately i dont get them here...i just feel like picking a spoon and having some thnu the screen

  17. hi nupur, the masala gravy looks very good !, i must try this.., the other day i wanted to try ur samosa's the heat here made me get tired by the time i started making the chapatis !, i ended up rolling them like the fajitas !, :), i was thinking u must have had great patience mine was completely dried out because of the blazing sun here, as i have BM it, i will try it sometime again..!, this one toooo looks so good BM this too...

  18. Vani- It is great to see you here!

    Mira- I wanted to give you some of this masala but forgot :( You'll have to come and get some from me sometime.
    I so enjoyed our lunch!

    notyet100- Thanks

    Priyadarshini- You could try it with any dried fruit; you get so many varieties in India.

    Jayasri- Thanks.

  19. Hey Dearie,
    thanks for the kind words :) i'll cherish our meeting for a long long time - glad you liked the chole masala! Goldie ki jai ho!

  20. Hi Nupur,
    I am from St Louis as well. Tried this chole y'day and they came out really good. Had to come on here and post this to let you know.
    Thank You.

  21. Nandita- That masala is truly wonderful! You are a sweetheart to share it with me :)

    Shila- Thanks for the feedback- I'm very glad the recipe worked for you!

  22. The picture was so good that I had to try the recipe. Great taste.

  23. Looks gorgeous!


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