Chickpeas in Star Anise and Date Masala (Vegan/Non Vegan Options)
Now that my daughter has turned vegan, and I specifically use that phrase ‘turned vegan’ because it makes me smile to think of her turning vegan after being bit by another vegan (let that sink in for a moment), she and I are constantly on the lookout for delicious dinners that can easily be modified to be vegan or to which meat protein can be added. Both of us keep an eye out on social media channels and alert each other when we find a dish that seems a likely candidate. She (celestialotter) is an avid Instagrammer (as am I) and one of her favourite local Instagram profiles to follow is ourdailybrett. Our Daily Brett is a purveyor of unique kitchen items, cocktail creating apparatus, and take home meals. Every day around 4 pm they post the ‘take home special’ on Instagram so that their downtown core working customers can swing to pick up dinner on the commute home. They do try to do at least one vegetarian option per week and sometimes there is a vegan option. The day they posted this Chickpea Masala with dates and star anise I was definitely inspired and I didn’t have to wait for my daughter to suggest that I make it for dinner.
I went straight to work. It was fairly easy to locate a recipe online and I had most of the ingredients because I always have a fully stocked pantry, complete with every kind of vegan protein imaginable. The New York Times version calls for black cardamom, one of the ingredients so I just went with using the green cardamom. I find that many chickpea recipes call for way too many chickpeas so I automatically cut down the amount specified. I also didn’t have tomato paste so I substituted tomato sauce and cooked it down a bit longer. Other changes I made were adding two extra dates (I had eight left in the package), two extra cardamom pods, and cutting down the amount of cayenne pepper.
Chickpeas in Star Anise and Date Masala
- 2 15-oz cans chickpeas (or 1 1/2 cup raw chickpeas, soaked overnight and boiled)
- 4 cardamom pods
- 1/3 cup cooking oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (1 medium-large)
- 2 tbsp chopped garlic (6 medium cloves)
- 5 tbsp tomato paste
- 8 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp salt (or 1 tsp if chickpeas are salted)
- 1/2 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, rinse, 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 onion 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 (sauce). If using sauce, reduce at this point until it gets a bit pasty. 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.
While the dish is superb as is, we portioned off half for my daughter, then added some spicy chicken meatballs in to satisfy the meat lovers in our family.
Spicy Chicken Meatballs
Mix 1 lb ground chicken with 2 tbsp spicy sweet chili sauce, 1 sliced green onion, 1/4 cup sliced cilantro, 1 tbsp minced fresh garlic, 1/2 tbsp minced fresh ginger, salt and pepper. Make into small 1 inch balls and fry until just cooked. Add to chickpea masala with a bit of water, cover, and simmer for ten minutes. Enjoy with rice and extra cilantro.