aside from my family, there have been a few other folks i’ve crossed paths with that have taught me a great deal about cooking. in 2002, i met a truly amazing woman named yashoda…aka mama g. she’s one of those women that inspires others effortlessly. it’s like she always knows what to say & can tell what you’re thinking and feeling before you yourself realize it. just being around her is a blessing. on top of that, she’s also a stellar cook! prior to meeting her, i had never really attempted to make indian food but after tasting a spread of ridiculously delicious vegan dishes, i demanded recipes. in addition to getting to cook with her a few times, she also wrote down a ton of recipes that i copied into a very special binder that i use to this day.
back then i had my heart set on perfecting sambar & i remember telling her that mine just doesn’t taste like hers. her reply was that it wasn’t supposed to, every cook lends their own flavor to the dish. she said that in india, you create your own curry blend to bring to the spice grinder so everyone’s is unique. the key is to find your mix & put your own spin on everything you make. those words have stuck with me & continue to inspire me, not just to be creative in the kitchen but as a manifesto for my life. one of my favorite & most used recipes of mama g’s is for chole. i’ve put my own slight spin on it, naturally.
most of these ingredients you can find in supermarkets. you will have to seek out an indian market for the fresh curry leaves & black mustard seeds but don’t skip them! they are essential to the flavor of the dish.
- heat coconut oil in a small saucepan. add mustard seeds & cover until they pop.
- remove from heat, add cumin seeds & curry leaves,
- return to medium heat & add onions. saute until golden brown.
- add spices & tomatoes. cook until tomatoes almost melt, stirring often. sprinkling with a little salt will help break down the tomatoes.
- add chickpeas & cook on low until heated thoroughly.
- i usually want my cole a little saucier, so i add a little water.
- taste & adjust the spices especially if you added water.
- garnish with cilantro