Chana, Chana, Chana Masala! (+ a recipe, yo)

When I had a small army of visitors last week, we ate out fairly often, and although I didn’t appreciate the strain on my wallet, I did enjoy discovering a few new restaurants. The vegan paella I found hidden at the bottom of the menu at a restaurant that focused on seafood was a surprising treat. When I placed my order, I had no idea that I was about to receive what was probably somewhere around a pound of a deliciously seasoned paella, spiced with saffron and brimming with meaty mushrooms. I barely finished a quarter of it; the bowl looked like I’d barely nibbled on a few grains of rice! I got at least three more meals out of those leftovers. We also ate at a few Asian-inspired restaurants, and I enjoyed one of my favorite dishes ever, pad thai. On girls’ night, my best friend and I had some delicious mooshu and spring rolls. But one thing we didn’t have was Indian food.

So I decided to remedy that a few nights ago. I’ve recently taken over dinner duty for my parents and myself three nights a week, since they’re both educators and are therefore back to work. Since I am mostly unemployed, I figured it was the least I could do to stop feeling like a financial drain. :) I now get to do most of the grocery shopping and can exercise my culinary prowess on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I decided that Indian food had to be on the menu for my first Monday in the kitchen.

Deciding what to make was simple. I’ve been craving chana masala lately, so I whipped up a batch based loosely on this recipe from VegWeb. Since I was cooking for three, I augmented the recipe by adding extra chickpeas, and I added lots of garam masala, curry powder, and crushed red pepper flakes because my family likes it hot. ;) The result was a fragrant, spicy dish that tasted delicious over brown rice.

(My mama was so impressed with my meal that she photographed it! Silly mommy. Doesn’t it look like a funny little open-mouthed face, though?)

For a side dish, I consulted my growing list of “Crap I Want to Make,” a Pages document of recipes I will try at some point in the vague future. I immediately zeroed in on the Potato Vada from The Voracious Vegan. But then I realized that these tasty-looking morsels are deep fried, and I’m not really a fan of frying (read: large amounts of hot oil frighten me) and I’m trying to keep things healthy. So I decided to create my own vada-like dish. Thus, Potato-Corn Vada were born! These are a healthier, baked variation on the potato vada recipe that looked so good. I took a few ideas from a few sources, combined them with the local corn my dad had picked up, and came up with a yummy side dish for any Indian meal.

These are a delicious counterpart to a spicy main dish. The corn provides a burst of fresh sweetness that helped temper the spice of the chana masala. Because they’re baked, you can eat two or three without feeling uncomfortably full.

I will note that this recipe is a work in progress. I’d recommend making the vada thinner than the 3/4 inch patties I created, which is why I say 1/2 inch in the recipe. Also, even after baking for 20 minutes and broiling for ~2, they didn’t quite stay together. I might try using a slightly higher oven temperature. With that said, here’s my recipe!

Baked Potato-Corn Vada
2 large potatoes
1 1/2 ears corn, raw (yields just over a cup)
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 T chickpea powder
1/4 t turmeric
1/4 t salt
1/2 t garam masala

First, you’re going to boil your potatoes. Start the potatoes ahead of time, because the rest of the recipe doesn’t require very much prep time at all. Heat up some water in a medium saucepan, chop your potatoes into medium pieces, and throw ‘em in the boiling water.

While your potatoes are cooking, de-kernelize your corn. Stand it up lengthwise and use a sharp knife to remove all kernels. This can get messy, so keep a towel underneath your cob to catch errant kernels. Once you’ve got your corn removed from the ear, place the kernels in a small food processor and pulse it a few times. It’s okay to have some kernels that are still whole; you just want to get some variety and have some that are in smaller pieces.

Next, chop up your onion and cilantro. You can adjust these measurements to taste or even omit the cilantro if you’re not a fan. Now’s probably a good time to start preheating your oven to 350˚F and to spray a nonstick pan with oil.

By now, hopefully your potatoes are cooked through. Dump ‘em into a strainer, and once they’ve cooled a bit, transfer them to a large bowl and mash those babies! Next, add the corn, onion, and cilantro to your taters. Now comes the fun part – it’s time to get your hands dirty! Mix up the big ol’ mess until it’s well combined. Then add the chickpea flour and spices (again, adjust as necessary) and stir these in with a large spoon.

Now start forming your patties. Take a decent sized ball of the mixture (about 1/3 cup, I’d guess) and form it into a ball. Flatten it a bit (about 1/2 inch thick) and then place it on your pan. Continue until you finish up the mixture. You can lightly brush the tops with a bit of oil if you’d like, but that’s probably not necessary. Now pop the pain in the oven for about 20 minutes until they’re slightly browned on the top.

You could also make thinner patties, bake ‘em for ~15 minutes, and then put them under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp them up. Or you could certainly shallow-fry thinner patties. The possibilities are endless!


2 thoughts on “Chana, Chana, Chana Masala! (+ a recipe, yo)

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