It's Autumn, which means that there is Pumpkin fever everywhere... I love, love, LOVE winter pumpkin & squashes. Butternut and Kabocha are my absolute faves... for their rich yet delicate flavour, plus I also like the smaller acorn or other mini types that are brilliant for making into individual casings for stuffing and roasting.
Also, it's no secret that I also love chickpeas! They're brilliant ( I use them in recipes All.The.Time...) , and I often combine them with squash in easy tray roasts to great effect. . They're natural bedfellows, with the meatiness of the chickpeas complementing the sweetness of the pumpkin. However, although I've tried out versions of a chickpea & pumpkin curry a few times for some reason, I just haven't cracked it, despite trying all kinds of spice combinations. It turned out insipid and watery (ewww), or just a bit normal and bland and bleh. Not at all what you want from a curry.
But... I think I've finally cracked it. The Gardener forwarded me an article in the Guardian (by Felicity Cloake) on how to make the perfect Chana Masala, which is a well loved chickpea curry all over India with all kinds of different recipes and variations... I then read something else about cooking squash by one of my fave chef/writers, Nigel Slater and I realised where I'd been going wrong.
I usually don't know exactly where my recipes come from, most of the time I get an idea from reading various bits, from all kinds of sources & it comes to me as I make it, but as I had tried & failed on so many occasions and Felicity Cloake's recipe references all kinds of curry experts, and she's tested them all out (yay!) using hers as a basis for my pumpkin & chickpea made sense... And boy did she not disappoint!
I didn't quite use hers to the letter ( Ermmm... nothing new there) , there was a lack of coriander available... and I sort of missed out adding spices at one point, plus decided that a squirt of tomato paste would be a good idea..
Also- I added pumpkin/squash, to satisfy my Autumnal craving ... but the real revelation here was roasting the squash instead of adding cubes of it directly to the curry to cook. This meant that the flavours concentrated & intensified, which when added to the curry added to the flavour profile. Not watery or bland. Hurrah!
Added bonus to roasting the squash? I roasted a whole one which was double what I needed, meaning that I could rustle up a pasta or gutsy salad the next day with next to no effort! Super Organised Cooking Win!
- 1 400 g chickpeas cooked. ( This is either 1 tin, or 200g dried that has been cooked!)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 large onion , finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves
- 25 g root ginger
- 30 g fresh coriander seeds
- 2-4 green chillies , chopped roughly
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1-2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 400 g tin of plum tomatoes , sort of squashed up in the tin with a knife
- 1 Tbs tomato paste
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garam masala ( Or other masala mix- I used a really great organic madras mix)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ butternut squash- cut into pieces.
- Put the cut up squash into a roasting tin, slick with olive oil & a sprinkle of salt & pop in the oven.
- Meanwhile, pop the drained chickpeas in a pan (assuming you're using tinned) and add half a cup of water Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes then drain, making sure to reserve a bit of the cooking water. (thank YOU Felicity for this amazing tip- it makes a huge difference to the end texture of the dish).
- In a mortar & pestle or stick blender to blend the garlic, ginger, coriander & chilli into a paste...
- Then, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion & cumin seeds and cook until the onion is softened & the cumin is popping & aromatic.
- Add the paste of garlic, ginger, coriander & chilli paste & add it into the pan, cooking it for few minutes. Add in the chilli powder and turmeric & stir...
- Then, stir in the squished up tomatoes, chickpeas and their cooking water and a pinch of salt. Add the roasted pumpkin in too. Bring this all to a bit of a simmer and let it thicken. This might take 15- 20 mins...
- Stir in the garam masala, and the lemon juice, plus taste for salt & add a little if needed...