Chickpeas in star anise & a Dinner Giveaway from Vij!

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Jennifer Pallian
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Giveaway details at the end of the post.

I love Indian flavours, and no one has mastered them more beautifully than my chef crush Vikram Vij. I could prattle on and on about how incredible his recipes are. But the experience is really the thing that will convince you, so I think you should find out for yourself; either by visiting one ofhis restaurants, or by buying his gorgeouscookbooks!

In his latest masterpiece, Vij's at Home, Vancouver chef Vikram Vij defines a masala as "a mixture of spices, either dry or wet. A dry masala consists of the dry spice mixtures - for example, a garam masala. A wet masala is the mixture of the dry spices with tomatoes, onions, garlic etc."

This dish is not a typical chickpea curry, in which the chickpeas are smothered in sauce. It is a saute of chickpeas with a masala of tomatoes and onions, in an aromatic blend of spices. At Vij's restaurant, I first had these chickpeas served over grilled kale - which, if you've never tried it, sounds humble but tastes incredible!

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The sweet dates and anise go beautifully together, and they nicely balance the fiery heat of the cayenne. I served it with homemade naan as a main course, but Vij serves it as an appetizer.

The entire meal takes about 20 minutes to make - this, combined with the fact that is both healthy and delicious, plants it firmly into my regular rotation.

I went out on a limb and asked Chef Vij if he would like to share something with you lovely people, and guess what? He is generously offering one lucky Foodess reader a full chickpea curry takeout dinner for two from Rangoli! Woohoo, eh? Except now he's read this post and knows he's my chef crush... blush...

Ok, Vancouver, here's how to win the giveaway:

Leave a comment on this post with 1) what you're having for dinner tonight and 2) your email address.

For a BONUS entry, follow me on twitter and tweet this post with me (@foodessdotcom) tagged. Then leave another comment here to say you've done it.

And for yet ANOTHER BONUS entry, "like" foodess on facebook and post this link with @foodess tagged. Then leave another comment here to say you've done it.

And then, for no extra entry but just because you love me, vote for Foodess for best Vancouver Food Blog!

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The contest will end in one week on Thursday, May 19th and the winner will be chosen by random.org.

Chickpeas in Star Anise and Date Masala

From Vij's at Home cookbook

  • 3 15-oz cans chickpeas (or 1 1/2 cup raw chickpeas, soaked overnight and boiled)

  • 2 cardamom pods

  • 1/3 cup cooking oil

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (1 medium-large)

  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic (6 medium cloves)

  • 2 1/2 tbsp tomato paste

  • 6 fresh or dried dates, pitted and chopped

  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 2 tsp salt (or 1 tsp if chickpeas are salted)

  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper

  • 1 tsp black pepper

  • 1/3 tsp ground star anise, or 2 whole star anise

  • 1/2 cup water

1. Drain chickpeas and set aside. With a knife, lightly crack the cardamom pods. With your fingers, peel back the shell to release the seeds; discard shells.

2. Heat oil in a medium pot on medium-high for 45 seconds. Add oinion and saute for 6 to 7 minutes, or until browned. Stir in garlic and saute for 1 minute, or until browned. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in tomato paste. Add dates, cumin, salt, cayenne, black pepper, star anise and cardamom sees and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in chickpeas and water and heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until masala is well mixed with chickpeas. Turn off the heat and serve immediately.