Chickpea & Potato Curry

Curries have always been, in my mind, an exotic, passionate, and complicated dish. Not exotic in that you have to travel to far and distant lands to get some; no, we can even get it in a box at the local grocer. But exotic in the sense that the flavor takes you somewhere else, and you can taste a world of culinary culture and history. A seemingly infinitely complex flavor of many different spices and seasonings used to arrive at a perfectly balanced curry.

I have eaten many curry dishes in my past, but to be perfectly honest, I know not much about them. I am not sure what makes one different from the other, or even if I prefer one kind to another. I am actually pretty happy any time I eat any kind of curry. That is except my own.

I have often tried to create this delicious dish at home and I have never achieved anything better than a soupy dish with an overly strong powder flavor, lacking in a curry flavor, regardless of how much of the curry powder I used. I suppose the problem being just that; I often added too much curry powder, or paste, trying to make that spice alone create the flavor of the curry.

And if I am not mistaken, that just does not work. It takes many different spices to work together to make a true, well balanced curry. I found a curry recipe in last November's Gourmet magazine (sniff.) The photo was wonderful and appetizing and it was under a section titled every day gourmet. I thought to myself, this might be the recipe that will teach me how to work with those different spices. And, I think it worked.

A combination of curry, turmeric, cinnamon and jalapeno spice this dish, along with garlic and ginger. It is a flavorful and spicy. You may want to start with just half the jalapeno and then add more if you think you can take the heat.

Chickpea & Potato Curry
-1.5 pounds of red skinned potatoes, peeled and cubed
-1 fresh jalapeno, chopped seeds and all
-1 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
-3 garlic cloves, smashed
-1 Tbs curry
-2 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp turmeric
-1/3 cup canola oil
-1-3/4 water
-1 large yellow onion, chopped
-1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
-1/2 cup frozen peas
-1/2 cup dried grated coconut
-1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Place the potatoes in a bowl of cold water, and allow to soak while preparing the spices. Toast the coconut in a skillet over medium heat. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. Once toasted, place toasted coconut in a bowl and reserve for later. In a blender, mix the jalapeno, ginger, garlic, curry, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, canola oil, and 1/4 cup water. Blend until completely smooth. This is the golden mixture, I think it can be used as a stepping off point to make many dishes.
Pour mixture into skillet, and simmer until slightly thickened, on medium heat, for 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped onion and cook until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Drain potatoes and add to the onion mixture, cook until the potatoes have softened slightly, about another 10 minutes. Add chickpeas and the remaining water. Allow to simmer for 20 more minutes, by this point the potatoes should be tender. Add the peas, coconut, and cilantro, cook for 3 more minutes, until the peas are cooked. Serve atop Basmati rice, and enjoy!