There’s nothing like being left alone for the weekend to make someone who “loves to cook” lose all desire to operate a stove. My husband and daughter ran off to New Orleans this past weekend, and though you’d think I would seize the opportunity to cook dishes that I like that they don’t, the ugly reality is that my diet deteriorated into sandwiches and reheated leftovers. Cooking without someone to cook for just isn’t my thing; besides, with my clean-up crew away on vacation, I knew that anything I cooked I’d also have to clean up. But after a couple of days of sandwiches, I was ready for real food again, as long as I didn’t have to work too hard for it.
And so I took a half-bunch of kale that needed to be used, combined it with a fresh tomato and a cup of chickpeas, and came up with this relative of palak paneer, with kale instead of the spinach and chickpeas standing in for the cheese. Since I was all alone, I made only a little, enough for one or two servings, and because I didn’t have any rice cooked, I packed it into toasted pita bread. I added seasonings to taste and had absolutely no intention of sharing the recipe–until I tasted it. It was so good that I quickly spooned it into a fancy bowl I’d bought at the local Indian restaurant and snapped a couple of photos before devouring it. It’s super-easy and a great meal if you’re cooking for one or two, though feel free to double or triple it if you’re lucky enough to be cooking for a crowd.
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 6 cups chopped kale (about 5-6 ounces before removing stems, 3-4 ounces chopped)
- 1/2 cup broth (divided)
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper (or to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala (see my recipe)
- 2 teaspoons tahini (or other nut butter), optional
- Salt to taste
- Heat a medium-sized non-stick pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until they soften and begin to brown. (I do this without any liquid, but if they start to stick, add a tablespoon of water or broth.) Add the ginger, garlic, and cumin seeds, and cook for another minute or two, until the cumin becomes fragrant. Add the tomato and cook for two more minutes.
- Stir in the kale and 1/4 cup broth and cover tightly. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender but still bright green, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the chickpeas, remaining 1/4 cup broth, and all seasonings except garam masala. Cover and cook on low for about 10 minutes. Stir in the garam masala and tahini and add salt to taste and cook for another minute or two. Serve over whole grain, with bread, or stuffed into pitas.
If you would like a smoother texture, process the kale/tomato/onion mixture briefly in the food processor after step 2. Return it to the pan before adding the chickpeas and continuing the recipe.