January 20, 2010

Roasted Root Veggies and Spicy Chickpeas (alla Gricia)

One of my favorite chickpea dishes is called chaana masala. Mehfil, a restaurant in our SOMA neighborhood, does a great chaana paneer, of which (I think) I can get a whiff on my way back from work. My cab ride from work may be short but even a few uninterrupted minutes of solitude are enough for dreaming up my next meal...I thought I had everything figured out by the time I walked in our place, with a chaana recipe that I had pulled on my blackberry, when Crisco's skepticism made me quickly change course. You see, Crisco's theory is that my dabbling in Indian cuisine has been rather mediocre to-date - dal, aloo gobhi, etc. included. Unfortunately, I had to admit that he was right, there was always something missing in my interpretations of these Indian staples.

Crisco's suggestion was to cook the chickpeas that I intended to use for the chaana masala in a different fashion - he thought a spicy Italian arabiata or amatriciane sauce would work well. Too bad...I had already started mixing my version of naan - my favorite Bittman flatbread recipe:

Step 1: Mix the batter and let it sit while the oven is heating to 450F

Step 2: Put the cast iron skillet with olive oil in the oven

Step 3: Pour the batter in the skilled once the olive oil is hot (but not smoking)

A couple of things to note:
  • I used 50% coarse whole wheat flour, 50% stone-ground cornmeal
  • I reduced the oil to two tbs
  • Bittman suggests cooking the onions in the oil; I disagree - they got burned and some of them floated to the side of the pan; next time, I will use the mandoline to slice them very thinly and will then plop them in the batter
  • Leeks work much better than onions
While mulling over the chickpea conundrum, I put some brown rice in the ricecooker and proceeded to prep some veggies for the root veggie roast:

Step 1: Steam
  • parsnips
  • cauliflower
  • sweet potato
  • brussel sprouts
Step 2: Season
  • coarsely ground black peppercorns
  • chili pepper flakes
  • honey
  • olive oil
  • brown rice vinegar
  • salt
  • fresh rosemary
  • fresh thyme

Step 3: Broil (10-15mins)
Step 4: Serve

The veggies were roasting, the rice was cooking and it was time to prepare the chickpeas. It was getting late and the tomato-based arabiata or amatriciane sauces seemed too labor-intensive and time-consuming. However, there was another equally delicious member of the Carbonara family, which came to the rescue - Gricia:

Step 1: Saute some bacon, pancetta or guanciale with a bit of olive oil, onions and chili pepper flakes

Step 2: Add pre-cooked chickpeas along with some chickpea cooking liquid

Step 3: Reduce / thicken the broth by cooking it a bit, throw in some parsley, parmigiano and pecorino, let the cheese melt and voila


  1. Looks delicious Marulka! The Gricia (chickpeas) would go well with pasta, too.

  2. yes - Gricia is a pasta sauce sauce I made for you guys with the penne, remember?

  3. The idea here is using this very flavorful chickpea cooking liquid (a substitute for the pasta water in the pasta recipe)

  4. Loved the veggies and the chickpeas recipes! Question abbout the sweet potatoes: don't they need more time to cook in comparison the the coleflower? It seems that they could be under cooked when the others are ready, or perfectly cooked when the other veggies are over cooked...
    Also how do you cook the chickpeas? Rice cooker or just by boiling them? I am dying to try the chickpea recipe! :)

    The pictures also looked so yummy! Great job Marulke!

  5. looks pretty tasty! I've been pretty busy lately but really want to try the flatbread.

  6. These compliments are making me so happy :)

    Domata, Cooking the chickpeas is pretty simple - soak overnight, then whenever you have time boil them with some water (no salt).

    When I steam the veggies, I typically put some water (not very much, perhaps 2 cups) in my large Dutch oven and then insert a steaming basket. I turn the heat on and start prepping the veggies. Potatoes go first so they steam a tad bit longer while I am cubing the rest of the veggies. Then, I add the brussel sprouts and the cauliflower last...I use the steaming / rasting method to save time. If I were to roast the veggies without steaming them it would probably take 45min to an hour.

  7. ha, I just knew there was a trick to the sweet potatoes! :)Cool. I will attempt it soon as I have a little bit of coleflower and 1/2 yam left over (don't ask me how you end up with 1/2 yam... it is a long story) :)
    What is cooking for tonight? I am going to a fancy dinner with a couple -- business friends of my dad and plodova salata -- so I might post a pic from there. Enjoy the evening!