I used to HATE Indian food, and of course while I was at Cal that was the rage. People would constantly drag me to Indian places and I would order some dry, too spicy chicken. Then they'd bring me this white sauce to cool it down and it tasted like paste. It was all bad.
But then I went vegan. Andrew took me to this little place in Cincinnati called Amol one evening when I came to visit him. We ordered the Aloo Chana, some type of Vegetable Pakoras, and Tandoori Roti. And that was all she wrote - I was hooked for life. It's a dish that I rarely see in other Indian restaurants. Sometimes you come across an Aloo Gobi or a Chana Masala, but those really just aren't the same. The sauce is creamy without the use of cream, and has this really perfect not-too-sweet spice to it. It's absolutely heavenly when you find it. There's another place in Columbus, OH called Taj Palace that we've found Aloo Chana, but since moving to Indy we have had no such luck.
I've painstakingly struggled to craft this at home. I've purchased obscure spices, blended different vegetables together, cooked it for hours. I even suspected at one point that they lied to us and there was clarified butter in it. I tried everything to no avail. The closest I've ever come to recreating the flavor actually occurred when I used cashew cream as the base. It happened on accident really. I just wanted to make a creamy curry dish, and when I took my first bite I thought - THIS tastes like Aloo Chana! Life can be that way sometimes, though. Try as you might to figure something out, then one day it falls into your lap when you least suspect it.
Curried Chickpea Stew over Caulipots
Serves 2-4 people, pending appetite assessment
1 can of chickpeas
1/2 cup of quarter brussels sprouts
1/2 of a yellow onion finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup raw cashews
1-2 tsp curry powder (a quality curry powder is necessary!)
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp nutritional yeast
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt to taste
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
1 Recipe for Caulipots (I love Isa's from "Appetite For Reduction")
I added garlic & chives to my caulipots for extra flavor
* Begin to prepare your caulitpots. They take the longest.
* Place your cashews in a blender first, then fill with cold water up to the 2 1/2 cup line. Blend on high for about 10 minutes. This works best with a high quality blender. I use a ninja.
* After chopping your onions, heat a pan with 1 tbsp olive oil and a dash of salt. Cook your onions on medium to low heat for about 5 minutes, allowing them to get golden. They add a lot of flavor, so it's important to be patient here.
* After 5 minutes, add your quartered brussels sprouts and cook with the onions for another 10 minutes. The pan may be dry, so feel free to add more olive oil or use a cooking spray. Continue to cook until the brussels are bright green and browned a little.
* Rinse your canned chickpeas and add them to the pan with your onions and spouts. Toss them together then add 1/2 of your spices, being careful not to over spice at this stage. Add your nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Continue to cook for about 2 minutes.
* Passing through a sieve, add your cashew cream directly to the pan. Stir together, turn your heat up a little, and allow to thicken and bubble. Taste and add the rest of your spices if needed.
* If your curry thickens too much, just add a little water to thin out.
* Finish off with fresh cilantro. Serve over caulipots and enjoy!