Two New Yorkers spend six months 18 months!?! in Bangalore and other places in India.

Friday, November 17, 2006


To continue our temporary impersonation of a full-fledged food blog, I made choley yesterday. This is a spicy stew made with chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, and something sour. The sour usually comes from tamarind, but the recipe I used called for lime juice instead.

This was yet another opportunity to come to terms with the pressure cooker, and I think I'm finally OK with it. Unlike those in the U.S., Indian pressure cookers don't let off a little steam at a time -- most of it builds up and up until it can't stand it anymore. A small steam cloud and a huge racket results -- it's like a steampipe breaking or something. Everyone, including cookbooks, call this small explosion a "whistle," but it's way scarier than any whistling I've ever heard. The "whistles" are so important that it's often how you might time how long to cook things -- "give those lentils three whistles, will you?"

Anyway, after 25 minutes and 6-7 whistles and only a little fear and loathing from the cook, the kabuli chana (brown chickpeas) were ready to have browned onions, cooked down tomatoes, and spices added to them. If I do this recipe again, I'm going to use one rather than two sliced chili peppers -- two was just a little too much for our delicate Western palate. But it was really good all the same -- amazing how a good recipe can transform 1-1/2 cups of chickpeas into something edible and interesting.

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