Sunday, November 14, 2010

Looking Forward To Vij's Restaurant

J and I have decided that this year's vacation is going to be a train trip in the Canadian Rockies. (Of course I say "decided" like it means "decided". Our plans are aways evolving, and anything is possible!) If we make it to Vancouver, BC, I would very much like to visit Vij's Restaurant. I saw some recipes on line from there, and was inspired to buy one of their cookbooks.

Tonight I made a chickpea curry  -- Chickpeas in Star Anise and Date Masala--  and marinated lamb chops in coarse Dijon mustard before I grilled it. I had originally intended to make the Fenugreek  Curry that Vij's crafted for the lamb. But I mistakenly bought fenugreek seed, not leaves, so I decided that I would wait until another day.

That's a date, not a piece of meat, in the masala. 
The chickpeas were wonderful. I had never used black cardamom. It gave the chickpeas a wonderful, smoky flavor. Maybe you don't have all the called for spices in your cupboard -- well get out there and buy them! And maybe you've never had dates in your chickpeas? I never had. But take my word for it -- the dish was wonderful. I will definitely make this again!

Washing the chard is easy, if you know how!
I served swiss chard with the lamb and chickpeas. Here's a tip for washing greens: I fill the sink very full with cold water and throw in the greens. Then, after letting them lit, I pull them out before draining the water. Be sure to wash the sink because it will have a lot of dirt in it! Lather, rinse, repeat -- well, don't lather.

After the greens were nice and clean, I cut off the tough stems. Then I saute some garlic in my biggest frying fpan, give the greens a rough chop, and throw them in. Add a little water, then cover them tight. In about 10 minutes, they will be ready.

Chickpeas in Star Anise and Date Masala 

3 15-ounce cans chickpeas (or 1½ cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked)

2 black cardamom pods
1⁄3cup neutral cooking oil, like canola
1 medium-large Spanish onion, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2½ tablespoons tomato paste
9 dried dates, pitted and chopped
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cayenne, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
2 whole star anise, or 1⁄3 teaspoon ground.
1. Drain the chickpeas and set aside in a nonreactive bowl.
2. With a knife, lightly crack the cardamom pods. Peel the shell to release the seeds and collect them in a small bowl. Discard the shells. With a rolling pin or a mortar and pestle, crush the seeds (you can leave them whole if you don’t mind biting into them) and set aside.
3. In a medium pot set over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it begins to shimmer. Add the onions and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until they have softened and started to brown. Stir in the garlic and sauté for a minute or so, until it, too, has softened. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the tomato paste. Add the cardamom and all remaining ingredients and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes.
4. Add the chickpeas and ½ cup or more of water, enough to make them less than dry. Heat the mixture, stirring occasionally to incorporate the flavors, and keep warm until serving. Serves 6. Adapted from Vij’s Restaurant, Vancouver, British Columbia

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