A few weeks ago, my daughters’ school hosted their Dual Language Program Family Night. It was an opportunity for all the parents to get on the same page about the how the dual language program worked and to meet each other. We were optionally invited to bring food to share that represented our family heritage.
I tried bringing sweets last year, but Bengali sweets (mishti) are always too sweet and often too spicy for the American palate. I ended up bringing a lot of the sandesh home. I thought I’d bring chatpati this year instead, a savoury snack food sold in roadside stalls in Bangladesh. I thought that the adults, at least, might find its exotic flavours interesting and I knew I’d be happy to eat the leftovers.
Much to my surprise, the pickier of my daughters, M, declared it “totally delicious” the morning of Family Night. Once we arrived at the event, two people asked for the recipe and kids kept returning to the table to refill their cups. My daughters asked if they could bring some to school the next day for snack, but there wasn’t enough left from the 4 quarts (triple the recipe below) we’d brought with us. I promised to make it again.I don’t know whether it was the familiarity of the ingredients I used, common to both Mexican and Indian cuisines, or the tanginess of the flavours that worked for the kids. Either way, here’s a way to introduce your family to the flavours of the Indian subcontinent and get some protein into their diet while you’re at it.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- ¼ cup onions, diced
- 3 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp tamarind paste (available at Indian food stores)
- 1 can crushed or diced tomatoes, with liquid
- 1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
- 2 (or more) dried red chilies to taste, whole
- 1 medium potato, cut into 1 inch chunks
- ½ tsp salt
- 1-2 cups water, divided
- cayenne powder to taste (optional)
- 1/4 cup onion, diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro (coriander leaves), chopped
- 1 small cucumber, diced (optional)
- 2 eggs, hard boiled and diced (optional)
- Heat the oil in a pot. When a drop of water added to the oil sizzles, lower the flame and sauté the onions until translucent.
- Add the cumin, coriander and bay leaf and sauté for one minute.
- Add 1/2 cup water and the tamarind paste. Bring to a boil, then simmer until it forms a thick paste.
- Add red chilies and cayenne to the mix and cook for a couple of minutes. If you want something spicier, you can chop the chilies. For kids, I’d recommend against chopped chilies.
- Add the remaining water to the spices and add the potatoes, tomatoes and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add the garbanzo beans. At this point, I transferred everything to my crockpot and let it cook on low overnight and all day, having added water to ensure that the beans and potatoes were covered.
- If you’d like to keep going on the stovetop, either because you have the time or don’t have a crockpot of the right size, simmer for another 2.5-3 hours. Depending on the type of potato you use, it may disintegrate into a thick spicy sauce or stay chunky.
- Discard the chilies (unless chopped) and bay leaf.
Serve this dish hot, topped with raw onions, fresh cilantro and optionally eggs and cucumber, both of which serve to calm the spiciness.