Living On Food

Gingered Chickpeas with Eggplant, Spinach, and Tomato


This is another recipe from The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking, page 203. The recipe as given in the book:

There's a note that the asafetida refers to the yellow Cobra brand, and that if you use other asafetida you should reduce the amount by three quarters.

1.) heat 6 tablespoons (90 ml) of the ghee or olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan or wok over medium heat. When it is hot but not smoking, add the eggplant and fry, stirring frequently, until it is browned and offers no resistance to the point of a knife. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2.) Add the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of ghee or vegetable oil and raise the heat to moderately high. When it is hot but not smoking, add the ginger, chilies, and cumin seeds and fry until the seeds turn dark brown. Drop in the asafetida and seconds later the tomatoes. Stir well, then add the ground coriander, paprika, cayenne, black pepper and turmeric. Cook until the tomatoes are reduced to a sauce that separates from the oil (up to 10 minutes depending on intensity of your heat).

3.) Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the eggplant, chickpeas, fresh spinach, salt, and half of the fresh herb. Cover and gently simmer, or bake in a preheated 325°F (160°C) oven, for about 30 minutes. If you are using frozen spinach, add during the last 10 minutes of cooking. The dish is now cooked, but you could cook it for another 1-1/2 hours if you want a sloppy joe consistency. Before serving, stir in the remaining fresh herb and the garam masala.

This is what I actually did:

I used 6 tablespoons of olive oil for the initial frying. For the eggplant, I used a bunch baby eggplant that I picked up at a local stand. Then, after removing the eggplant, I added 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and raised the heat, fried the ginger, chilies, and cumin until they were dark. For tomatoes, I used a can of tomatoes, since I didn't have any fresh. I prepped them in a bowl with the rest of the spices, and dropped it all in at once.

I used 2 cans of chickpeas and cilantro for the fresh herb, and fresh spinach. I covered and simmered for half an hour, added the rest of the cilantro and the garam masala, and served over brown rice.

It was delicious. I mean, I could taste the spinach and the spices, and that was good, but it also had this wholesome filling delicious flavor that I couldn't describe, that I'd previous gotten occasionally at Indian restaurants but had never managed at home before, like there was an essential nutrient in the food that my body had been craving.

One of the best things I have ever cooked, and with no meat, no onions, and no garlic. Amazing.

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