Monday, January 10, 2011

Parsnip and Chickpea Indian Stew

In honor of the oft overlooked root vegetable....the parsnip.

The full title of this recipe is "parsnips and chickpeas in a garlic, onion, chili and ginger paste." Much more evocative, don't you agree? This dish serves up as a hearty vegan stew rich with Indian flavors.
Adapted from Main Courses 365 edited by Jenni Fleetwood.

Serves 4-5

7 oz dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 inch piece of fresh ginger
2 green chilies, seeded and chopped
scant 2 cups, plus 5 tbsp of water
4 tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 - 1 tsp chili powder
2 oz cashew nuts, toasted and ground
9 oz tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 lbs parsnips, cut into chunks
1 tsp ground cumin
fresh lime juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste

garish: fresh cilantro and toasted cashew pieces

My Modifications:
In the interest of saving time, I opted for canned garbanzo beans. I do not know the exact equivalent of dried chickpeas to canned, however one 14 oz can seemed to provide an ample but not overwhelming amount.
The chili of choice this time around was the serrano.
For a lack of peanut oil in my cupboard, I substituted vegetable oil.
Because of my fascination with Indian cooking, I do indeed have both cumin and coriander seeds on hand. Do not use their ground counterparts as a substitute...they do not quite have the same taste, nor do the ground seasonings add that extra little crunch you get from the seeds. Penzeys spices carries both coriander and cumin...ground and in seed form.
For a lack of enough fresh tomatoes, I choose a 14 oz can of diced.

The Process:
If using dried chickpeas...after soaking overnight, drain and put in a pan. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Boil vigorously for 10 minutes, reduce to a simmer, then continue cooking for 1-1 1/2 hours. Drain and set aside.

Or, if using the can, strain, rinse and set aside.

Set aside approximately 2 tsp of the minced garlic, as well as half of the chopped chili. Place remaing garlic and chili, along with the onion, ginger and 5 tbsp of water into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

Heat a large deep frying pan and add cumin seeds and coriander seeds. Dry roast for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Add the oil. (The original recipe calls for adding the seeds directly to the oil. I prefer dry roasting them first to release more of their fragrance.) Return to stove top and add the turmeric, chili powder and cashew nuts, stirring until well combined. Add the ginger-garlic-onion paste and cook, stirring frequently until the water begins to evaporate. Add the tomatoes and stir until well combined.

Add the remaining scant 2 cups of water, along with the chickpeas and parsnips. Add 1 tsp salt plus ground pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and then cook, uncovered for 15-20 minutes...or until the parsnips are tender.

Return the mixture to a boil to reduce the remaining liquid to a thick sauce. Stir in ground cumin, the reserved garlic and chili, and lime juice to taste. Cook for an addition 1-2 minutes. Serve with a sprinkle fresh cilantro and toasted cashews.

The Review:

I am a huge fan of Indian flavors to begin with but I absolutely adored this dish. I did not miss the meat in the least. And the heartiness and heat of the stew is perfect for winter. The textures were plentiful...the tender yet firm parsnips, the smoothness of the chickpeas and the crunch of coriander and cumin seeds. The flavors were pretty well balanced. Early in the process the ground cashews were fairly prominent, but as the dish simmered on everything blended into a beautifully deep and rich sauce. If you like a lot of kick, feel free to up the number of chilies. I found 2 serrano to be just the right amount of lip tingle for me. And as prepared above this dish is completely vegan friendly.

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