If I were ever to become a vegetarian, I’d have to move to the south of India. In an area that’s primarily vegetarian, the people have adapted the use of spices and aromatics to infuse even the most humble vegetables with loads of umami.
This is something I came up with last night based on a 5 year old memory of a dish I had at a Keralan restaurant once. If you’re looking for an authentic Chana Masala, you’ll have to look elsewhere. However if you want something light and fresh while savory and deeply satisfying, this is your dish. On one side, ingredients like the chickpeas, onions and spices add some savory heft to it, while the curry leaves, spring greens and lemon juice pull it back in the other direction.
Simple to cook and easy to clean up, the only problem you’ll have making this is that you’ll want to eat all of it!
2 tsp oil
10 curry leaves chopped
1 Tbs ginger minced
1 large clove of garlic minced
1 serrano or jalepeno pepper minced
1/4 onion diced
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp turmeric
14 oz can whole tomatoes in juice
15 oz can of chickpeas drained and rinsed
2 medium swiss chard leaves roughly chopped
5-6 ramps roughly chopped
Lemon wedges for serving
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat until very hot. Add the curry leaves and ginger, frying until fragrant. Add the garlic, peppers, onions and spices and saute until the onions are tender.
Add the tomatoes by crushing them through your fingers along with the juice. If this is too messy for you, you can chop them, but i like the chunky texture of hand crushed tomatoes. Add the chickpeas then turn down the heat to simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
When most of the liquid is gone and what remains creates a nice thick sauce, add the chopped swiss chard, cover and cook for a few minutes until the chard is bright green and wilted. Add the ramps and cook for another minute or two.
Serve immediately with lemon wedges for squishing and some quinoa or Chapatis.