Feel the pulse

If you’re a vegetarian please don’t bother reading this as I’m sure that with the pleasures of meat and fish excluded from your diet, you at least appreciate the difference between tinned and real dry pulses. But many of us omnivores are lazy when it comes to some vegetables and I will admit to having been especially so over the years with regard to pulses.
If making a chickpea salad or curry for instance, or if using red beans for ‘feijoada’ or ‘chilli con carne’, I would simply reach for a tin in the kitchen cupboard. The only pulse we would habitually buy dried was lentils.
It was on something of a whim, when at the market a few months ago, that we bought some dried chickpeas and beans. Soaked overnight and boiled until tender, we soon discovered that they offer an altogether different flavour to that of their canned cousins and, incidentally, even bought from the supermarket they are a great deal cheaper.
A few days ago, I made a favourite southern Indian-style chickpea dish; a simple recipe where the natural taste of “real” chickpeas really shines through.
Make a paste from onion, garlic, fresh ginger and curry spices, and fry it until fragrant. Add the cooked chickpeas to the pan and stir fry in the paste to warm through and combine, and then add just enough coconut milk to moisten the chickpeas.
Cook for another few minutes until the coconut milk has almost evaporated; the idea is for the curry paste and coconut milk to coat the chickpeas. There should be little or no liquid in the dish when served. Season to taste with salt and garnish with fresh coriander.
Delicious as a vegetarian dish and even better with a few raw shelled prawns thrown in at the same time as the chickpeas.
By PATRICK STUART [email protected]