If I cook a vegetarian meal, I will most likely make Indian curries. Somehow, vegetables or legumes taste better that way. I think Anthony Bourdain agrees with me. As he was eating vegetable curries in Punjab, he said, "I will be less of a dick when it comes to this matter." Vegetarianism, that is, when he is in India.
I prepare monthly meals for board meeting of a non-profit where many board members eat gluten-free, with some vegetarians. This month I decided to make Indian curries, one with meat, one with legumes, and one with vegetables, plus a chutney, and raita. I went to the store to buy spices and legumes and saw a bag of mango powder. I decided to make chickpea curry with mango powder.
Every year for the past 25 years, I have had my UW students over for a pot luck dinner at my house, except for one year when my students were uniformly bad and the thought of spending more time with them was not appealing. Some years, I gave assignments for them to cook together as a group project and some years, they could bring whatever they want. One year about a decade or so ago, one of my students, doing a Ph.D in computer science, I believe, brought this curry dish to my house. It was the first time I had anything made with mango powder and it was delicious. He was kind enough to give me the recipe that I tucked it away somewhere safe and secure but later it was not to be found! But when I saw mango powder, it reminded me of this dish so I decided to wing it and make it for the board dinner.
As I was leafing through my Indian cookbooks to get some inspirations, a hand written recipe on a yellow notepad paper fell out of one of my cookbooks. It was Venki's garbanzo curry. Now I remember his name. I used to be proud that I remember most of my students's names but after a few decades, I think I lack brain power to remember them all.
Mind you, I didn't use Venki's recipe as it was written because I was making curry enough for 20 people. In my fashion, I just looked at the ingredient list and then went from there. The mango powder gives a nice tanginess to the dish. I hope you give it a try.
Venki's Garbanzo Curry
2 cans garbanzo beans, drained but reserve the liquid
1 medium onion, chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 teaspoon coriander powder
3/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2-3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon dried mango powder
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
lemon juice to taste
Sautee onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon of oil, preferably grass-fed ghee. Once the mixture is lightly brown add all the spices, except garam masala. Toast the spices for a few seconds until the fragrance permeates the air! Do not burn them. Add drained garbanzo beans to the spice mixture, add some liquid from the can to loosen it up a little bit. The curry should be somewhat thick, not soupy. Bring to a boil, then add salt, and stir in garam masala and lemon juice to bright up the flavors. That's it! The flavors should be salty, spicy with sour as an end note! I tend to add a pinch of sugar at the end just to round out the flavor.
With this curry, I don't not mind eating vegetarian. It's a symphony in your mouth. Thank you, Venki, wherever you are!