Once upon a time there was an Indian restaurant in Durham called Greenleaf. Every Thursday, there’d be a vegetarian buffet, and we’d have 4 or 5 different dishes, along with their heavenly pampadums, and then end the note with a quiet cup of smooth chai. It was enormously popular and we were very sad when it closed, for unknown reasons. The food served there wasn’t traditional Indian restaurant fare; you’d never know what you’d be eating that day, but it was often delicious. The closest Indian restaurant that matches Greenleaf’s style is Vimala’s Curryblossom Cafe, but it’s in Chapel HIll and often very, very crowded (I suspect it would be less hectic if she offered a buffet, but I can understand why she wouldn’t for logistical reasons).
So this dish is for Greenleaf, and while it’s not close to its recipes by any means, I think it’s pretty good to count as Indian food. Basically, you simmer chickpeas and potato in a tomato “curry” sauce. I hesitate to call it curry, because there is no curry leaf or a curry mix in it; it’s just a tomato-based sauce with Indian spices. You can serve it over brown rice with a side of sauteed greens and call it a very satisfying meal.
Chickpeas and Potatoes in Tomato Curry, Indian Style (adapted from Indian Vegetarian Cooking)
- Heat oil on med-high. When hot, add in black mustard seeds and stir until they pop (about 30 seconds later).
- Add onions, tomatoes, garlic, jalapeno pepper, ginger, and a pinch of cumin seeds. Stir until onions are soft. You can add sauce from the can of tomatoes, if you like.
- Add cumin, cloves, tumeric, cinnamon stick, bay leaf. Add chickpeas, potatoes, water (I just pour water into the can of tomatoes to get rest of the sauce out), salt, black pepper, and juice of a lemon. Bring to a slight boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Serve over brown rice.