Trini Chana and Aloo

This savory, herbal Trinidadian chickpea-and-potato curry is an island adaptation of a common north Indian dish. This dish swaps out tomatoes, ginger and whole spices for Madras curry powder and waves of cilantro-like flavor. Serve it with steamed white rice or roti flatbread.



INGREDIENTS

  • ½ pound dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in 4 cups of water
  • 1 ½ ounces culantro (1 packed cup),(*see note) plus more for garnish
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 fat cloves garlic, smashed
  • ¼ to 1 habanero chile, to taste
  • 1 large russet potato
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 ½ tablespoons Madras curry powder
  • ½ tablespoon ground turmeric

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a medium Dutch oven or heavy soup pot, add water to cover the chickpeas by 2 inches, and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming the foam, then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, until chickpeas are tender; drain, keeping the cooking water. (I like to use it later in the recipe; it’s also a nice base for soups.)
  2. Meanwhile, purée the culantro and 1/3 cup water in a blender until smooth. Add a pinch of salt, the garlic and the chile. (Half a deseeded habanero will make the dish gently but noticeably hot. Adjust from there.) Blend until smooth. Stir the herb purée into the hot, drained chickpeas.
  3. Rinse and dry the pot. Peel the potato, and cut it into 3/4-inch chunks. In the pot, heat the oil over medium heat, add the curry powder and turmeric and stir, until very aromatic and just starting to darken. Carefully add the potatoes and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas and cook, stirring, until you get a little sticking on the bottom of the pot, 3 to 5 minutes. Add a little water to scrape up the stuck parts, then add water to cover by 1/2 inch. (I use the chickpea cooking water, but Dolly Sirju prefers fresh water.) Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt.
  4. Bring the pot to a vigorous simmer, shy of a full boil, and cook until the potatoes are tender and the chickpeas are soft, about 30 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Chop some more culantro. Serve the curry with long grain white rice or roti, and garnish with chopped culantro.
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