Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Rumi Recipe: Chana Masaledar

In the back of his translation of the famous Persian poet Rumi, Selected Poems, Professor Coleman Barks has very kindly included some mouth watering recipes. What a brilliant combination! Inspired poetical wisdom, with a side of gastronomic delectation: food for body and mind. What a shame other books don’t have this pairing. Imagine Hitler’s Mein Kampf with a few vegetarian titbits, or Muammar Gaddafi’s The Green Book sharing his opinions on kalamari soup. I have reproduced the recipe here, but have added a few changes or possibilities if you are short of ingredients or wish for variety.

Rumi often speaks of the relationship between teacher and student as that between the cook and the chickpea in the pot. “You think I’m torturing you. I am giving you the flavour, so you can mix with rice and spices, and be the lovely vitality of a human being.” Here is a recipe for chickpeas from Kashmir.

4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 teaspoon f whole cumin seeds
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon of ground cloves
½ teaspoon of ground coriander
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
a piece of fresh ginger, about ½ inch square, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
24 oz can of chickpeas (2 x 240g dry weight tins)
salt according to taste
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons of lemon juice (can substitute 2 x teaspoons of mango powder)

3 tomatoes quartered
1 medium onion
4 green chillies, or a green pepper sliced

An alternative is to swap the green chillies of the garnish, with that of the cayenne in the sauce. This will permit you to mix the cayenne into the garnish with fingers, thus providing a more even spread of heat, and dispersing the chillies into the sauce by cooking.

Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet. When hot, put in the whole cumin seeds. As soon as they begin to darken, after a few seconds, put in the chopped onion. Stir and fry for 7 minutes. Turn heat to low and add the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and coriander. Mix and add the garlic and ginger, stirring for 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste. Open the chickpeas and drain out most of the liquid, leaving a couple of tablespoons. Pour this and the chickpeas into the skillet. Add salt, cayenne and lemon juice (or mango powder). Mix well, cover, and let the flavours combine for 10 minutes. Stir gently every now and then, taking care not to break the chickpeas. Serve with basmati rice in a bowl lined with quartered tomatoes, raw onion slivers, and green chillies or slices of green pepper.

“Lovers find secret places
inside this violent world
where they make transactions
with beauty.”


By South Utsire

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