Saturday, January 16, 2016

Spinach Yogurt with Spiced Chickpeas

In line with my last post, my Christmas present cookbook this year, Yogurt Culture by Cheryl Sternman Rule, is full of inspiration for cooking with fermented daily products. With some baby spinach from our Sweetwater Farm CSA and some cooked chickpeas in the refrigerator, I ended up making a mashup of two of Rule's yogurt spread recipes (a Turkish spinach dip and an Indian raita with a spiced tarka). For the base I mixed plain whole milk Nancy's Yogurt with chopped spinach and a pinch of salt, and then layered on these chickpeas fried with garlic, lemon rind, cumin, coriander, and smoked paprika.

Rules tops many of her savory yogurt dishes with a drizzled of oil, so for this one I made a tarka of cumin and mustard seeds and fresh curry leaves (now available on a regular basis at Sunrise Asian Food Market). This dish worked well as a party appetizer with pita chips, with the cooling yogurt as a nice contrast to the spicy chickpeas, and it was substantial enough to serve as dinner after the guests were gone and we were too tired to cook.

Spinach Yogurt with Spiced Chickpeas
for the chickpeas
2 Tbsp neutral oil such as canola
3 strips lemon rind, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 cups cooked chickpeas (could use one 15 ounce can)
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
pinch of salt

for the yogurt
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup whole milk plain yogurt
pinch of salt

for the tarka
1 Tbsp neutral oil such as canola
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
4-5 fresh curry leaves (optional)

1. For the chickpeas, heat a skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil and then the slivers of lemon rind. Cook one minute and then add the garlic. Cook another 30 seconds and then add the chickpeas and spices. Stir well and allow to coat the chickpeas. Allow to cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas have crisped.

2. Prepare the tarka. Heat a small pan over medium high heat. Add the oil. When it is hot, add the cumin seeds and about 30 seconds later add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Cook about a minute until the oil is very fragrant but before anything burns, and then transfer the tarka to a small bowl.

3. Rinse the spinach, drain, and chop finely. When you are close to serving the dish, combine the spinach with the yogurt and a pinch of salt.

4. To serve, spread the yogurt mixture on a shallow serving dish. Layer over the chickpeas. Drizzle the platter with the spiced oil, including the toasted seeds. Serve with warmed flat bread or pita chips.