Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chickpea and Artichoke Masala

I love to cook. Obviously, I write a food blog. I read cookbooks, food magazines, and other food blogs. And I love to watch cooking shows. You would think that someone who cares as much about food as I do would love the Food Network. Well, I used to. It’s partly because I’m now vegan; this is a network where audiences cheer at the mention of butter and cheese. But, lately I have noticed an overall decline in the quality and standard of the network as a whole. One of my favorite chefs, Ina Garten, or the Barefoot Contessa, regularly invites her audience to watch her shop at elegant East Hampton boutique grocers, and then artfully arrange expensive meats and cheeses as though it’s teaching. Don’t even get me started on Rachel Ray and “Semi-Homemade” Sandra Lee.

But, occasionally, there is cooking on this channel, and sometimes even innovation. The latest winner of “The Next Food Network Star,” Aarti Sequeira is one such chef. And she was a food blogger herself! Her show, “Aarti Party” presents itself as American food with an Indian twist, introducing her audience to flavors and techniques they wouldn’t normally experiment with. Because I don’t know much about Indian cooking, I always learn something new when I watch her show. She also tends to be a lot more vegan and vegetarian friendly due to the massive vegetarian influence in Indian cooking. I hope Aarti’s food and creativity is an indication of Food Network’s future, not a relic of its past. 

Chickpea and Artichoke Masala

Adapted from Aarti Sequeira

1 red onion, chopped roughly
1 clove garlic
1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
3 Roma tomatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup almond milk, unsweetened
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 bag frozen artichokes
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and 1 tablespoon oil. Pulse until smooth.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large pot, or sauté pan. Once the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds. Allow to pop briefly, then add the onion mixture to the pot. Sauté until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add the spices, and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the almond milk, lime juice, chickpeas, artichokes, salt to taste, and water. Stir until thoroughly combined, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cilantro and serve immediately over your favorite whole grain with a side of whole wheat naan!

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