chickpea curry with spring garlic, sweet potato, & lambs-quarters

After a week of running around in the chill and rain that have descended upon New York and seem determined to stay for a while (we had a break yesterday with warm breezes and sunny blue skies–until the downpours started again in the evening), I have come down with a bit of a cold. Woe is me. The people close to me know that I tend toward the dramatic when under the weather, sequestering myself at home and making huge pots of soups and stews that I consume three bowls at a time while watching marathons of Curb Your Enthusiasm on dvd. All washed down with a near-constant stream of lemon-ginger cure-all

This time it’s not too bad, just a mild sore throat and congestion; I’ve been mostly functional and haven’t even felt the need to quit the morning coffee, which is always a good sign. I have been faithfully taking the gan mao ling prescribed by my acupuncturist (it really works!) and eating nourishing and cleansing foods that are immune-supportive and light on the digestive system — lots of greens, garlic and onions, ginger, lemons, avocadoes, miso, copious amounts of olive and coconut oils (and savoring my first pint of strawberries this season — heaven). Also dousing nearly every dish with Tabasco and red chile flakes. Good medicine.

I’ve been craving spice, and last night nothing sounded better to me than an Indian curry. Rather than using the prepared Madras curry powder I often resort to when the measuring, toasting, and grinding of spices seems like too much effort, I decided to go for it and make my own blend. With Madhur Jaffrey’s basic curry powder recipe from World Vegetarian as a starting point (coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and mustard seeds, black peppercorns, cloves, dried red chiles, and ground turmeric), I added a couple of spices (cardamom and cinnamon) to make it my own, and whipped up a double batch so I could use a portion for a chickpea curry and save the rest for another time.

Not surprisingly, the aroma and flavor of the finished curry far surpassed anything made with prepared curry powder — from now on I’m going to remind myself that it’s totally worth the effort (and not even that much effort, really) of making the curry powder from scratch.

Once the spices were toasted and ground, the rest of the curry came together quickly. I cubed a sweet potato, washed a bunch of lambs-quarters (that’s them above — best in springtime, they’re similar to spinach, but milder and more tender), drained some chickpeas I had cooked the night before in the slow-cooker, sliced an onion and a couple of stalks of spring garlic, minced a chunk of fresh ginger, and opened cans of coconut milk and chopped tomatoes.

Thirty minutes later I was curled up with a warming and heartily spiced bowl of Indian curry cupped in my palms, a cup of herbal tea steeping on the side table, and an episode of Curb going (Thanks, LD ….. Get me the head!!!).

chickpea curry with spring garlic, sweet potato, and lambs-quarters
serves 4; the curry can be served solo, like a stew, or over cooked brown basmati rice

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cubed (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 Tbsp curry powder (see below; or substitute Madras curry powder)
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained)
  • 1 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 stalks of spring garlic, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 5 to 6 cups lambs-quarters leaves (I discarded the thicker stems)
  • lemon wedges, for serving
  • sea salt

Heat the coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and saute for a few minutes until the onion begins to brown. Add the sweet potato and saute a few minutes more. Stir in the ginger and curry powder and cook for another minute or two until fragrant.

Add the chickpeas, coconut milk, and diced tomatoes, along with another pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 20 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the spring garlic and lambs-quarters, cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with additional salt, if needed. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over each serving.

curry powder
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian
makes about 1/2 cup of curry powder

  • 4 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 4 dried red chiles, broken into smaller pieces (I used Arbol chiles)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick, broken into smaller pieces
  • 1 Tbsp ground turmeric
Toast all spices – except the ground turmeric – in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, add turmeric, and let cool. 
Grind the spice mixture in an electric spice grinder or with mortar and pestle. Store in a tightly sealed glass jar, and for optimal flavor use within a month.

5 thoughts on “chickpea curry with spring garlic, sweet potato, & lambs-quarters

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