Eating Well in Winter: Curried Chickpeas (and experiments with food photography)

making curry

It’s winter in the UK. Days are wet, windy and unpleasant and we keep on getting one cold after another. Fighting bugs with medicine doesn’t really work for most us. It’s the warm and nutritious food that strengthens our immune systems enough to complete the recovery. One of the nicest aspects of living in England is that it introduces you to foods from all the corners of the world and so it’s very easy to get all the necessary spices and ingredients to make these amazing dishes at home. I rummaged through our larder and took out a few good and healthy foods to replace the loved and cherished but eaten far too often pasta. There are many alternatives to it, of course, different types of wheat, lentils, pulses, sweet potatoes, brown rice. All good and yummy as long as you get the right recipe. I found one for Cholay (Curried Chickpeas) online at posted by Shammi Edwards (here). I thought it might work well so I decided to give it a go.

pasta fusilicieciorkaIt took me quite a while to prepare the dish but I wouldn’t worry if I were you… it’s the photographing, a moving toddler in the kitchen and my personal choices regarding the recipe (like using dried rather than tinned chickpeas) that did it… not the recipe itself. Here are the ingredients I used: Assam tea, bay leaf, water, dried not tinned chickpeas, garam masala, garlic, onions, coriander seeds, turmeric, cumin powder, ginger root, tomatoes, basil, salt. If you’d like to do it, you can find the quantities on the original site where I found the recipe. I used basil out of pure necessity as I just didn’t have any fresh coriander leaves to put in and I was pleasantly surprised how well it worked in that dish (made it quite refreshing and invigorating) and Assam tea as a replacement for English Breakfast tea worked fine too. I actually think that this dish lends itself to some manipulation and as long as you get the spices right and add a bit of water here and there in order not to burn the spices or the onions you’ll be fine. You can also make the dish hotter by adding extra garlic and ginger. That was my option and I was happy I used it. I was not too preoccupied with having grounded spices. I just grounded the seeds myself. It adds extra freshness to the dish.


Dried chickpeas can take a bit of time to prepare as you need to soak them overnight then drain and discard the water. After that you cook them in salted water even up to 40-50 minutes. It felt like ages for me so when my little son went for his afternoon nap I decided to experiment with photography a little. I was trying to find a way of reducing shadows from ingredients on that chopping board that you see on top, normally photographers would use a white sheet of card to disperse the light and I thought that I’ll try a mirror. It worked well and actually it allowed me to take a very interesting shot of the arranged ingredients. Here’s how it came out:

ingredients in the mirror

I finished cooking after sunset so  I didn’t take any more photographs. The light was too poor for it inside the house. But back to food, I served the curried chickpeas with jasmine rice and it was delicious. Honestly, heaven. So much so that I felt slightly guilty about eating it as I seemed to have pledged to have a year without a luxury…  and having this food certainly felt like having one. ;)

This post is a contribution towards: The Caring 2014 Project.

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