Friday, July 10, 2009

Black Chickpea and Papaya Curry

I am lucky enough to live in a city that has a wide variety of cuisine and markets to find hard to find products. One of my favourite foods is Indian - the combination of flavours, textures and colours is inspiring. There is a famous restaurant in the city called Vij's that serves phenomenal Indian food and next door is their café featuring many of the same recipes for a more affordable price. When I received the restaurant's cookbook as a gift, I started to try many of the recipes in the book. This is one of my favourites and one that has received rave reviews for dinner parties:

Eggplant and Papaya Curry with Black Chickpeas

notes from the book:

We combine roasted eggplant and papaya with black chickpea curry. Don’t buy fully ripened, soft papayas as they become difficult to handle and are too sweet. This dish won’t taste good without the black chickpea curry added to it. The black chickpea curry has many of its own spices, so we’ve used much less spicing in this eggplant-papaya curry.

If you have a grill or barbecue, you can reduce the roasting time by more than half. Just place each eggplant and papaya on a fully heated grill or barbecue. Allow the papaya to cook through for about 15 minutes and the eggplants for 20 to 25 minutes, while turning them regularly. Don’t worry if the skin of the eggplant or papaya has some burn marks on it. These marks will actually deliver a delicious roasted flavour.

  • 2 medium eggplants (about 2 lb/900 g)
  • 3 medium to large semi-ripe papayas (about 21/4 lb/1 kg)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) canola oil
  • 2 very large onions, diced into 11/2-inch pieces (about 11/2 lb/675 g)
  • 3 large ripened tomatoes, diced into 11/2-inch pieces(1 lb/450 g)
  • 11/2 tbsp (22.5 mL) ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) turmeric
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground fenugreek seeds
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 11/2 tbsp (22.5 mL) salt
  • 2 cups (500 mL) black chickpea curry

    Black Chickpea Curry

  • 1 cup (250 mL) dried black chickpeas
  • 3 cups (750 mL) water for soaking
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 61/2 cups (1.625 L) water for boiling
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) ghee (clarified butter)
  • 11/2 tbsp (7 mL) cumin seeds
  • 1 lb (450 g) onions, chopped (2 medium)
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) finely chopped garlic
  • 1 large juicy tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) garam masala
  • 1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) mango powder
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) turmeric
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups (500 mL) water
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chopped cilantro
  • 11/2 tsp (7 mL) dried mint leaves (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C). Wrap eggplants and papayas individually in aluminum foil. Place them on a baking tray. Since the papayas will cook faster, place them in the front so you can easily remove them from the oven. Bake papayas for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow them to cool. Continue baking eggplants for 1 hour more or until they are very soft. The eggplants will become mushy and deflated. Remove eggplants from the oven and cool so you can unwrap the foil.
  2. Using a paring knife or potato peeler, peel papayas and discard the skin. Cut papayas in half. With a spoon, scoop out seeds and discard. Purée papaya flesh in a processor or finely mash papayas with your hands.
  3. Using a paring knife, peel skins off eggplant. Using a spoon, scrape off any eggplant stuck to the skins. Discard the skins. Coarsely chop eggplant into a mixing bowl, then using your hands, roughly mash the eggplants. They will have nowhere near the smooth consistency of mashed potatoes. Instead, there will be some chunks. (You can also place the whole eggplants on a large cutting board and dice them into 1/4- to 1/2-inch (0.6 to 1.2 cm) pieces.)
  4. Add the papaya purée to the eggplants and mix well. Set aside.
  5. Heat oil in a large heavy frying pan on medium-high heat for 1 minute.
  6. Add onions and sauté until brown, about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in tomatoes. Add cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, jalapeno pepper and salt. Cook for 10 minutes. Pour the eggplant and papaya mixture into the masala and stir well. Combine the eggplant and papaya curry with the black chickpea curry and heat on medium for 5 to 10 minutes or until the mixture is gently boiling. Stir in chopped cilantro just as you turn off the heat.
  7. To serve: Present this curry on six plates with chapatis or lentil chapatis. Sprinkle dried mint on top of the curry on each plate.

    Black Chickpea Curry

  8. For the chickpeas: Wash and drain black chickpeas. Place chickpeas and the water in a bowl and soak overnight, or for at least 6 hours. Note that black chickpeas don’t expand in size the way other beans do after soaking.
  9. Drain chickpeas. Place chickpeas in a large pot with salt and the 61/2 cups (1.625 L) of water. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for 1 hour or until chickpeas are cooked through. The outer skin of black chickpeas is thicker than the skin of regular yellow chickpeas, so taste one or mash one between your fingers to be sure they are fully cooked. Do not drain.
  10. For the masala: In a separate large pot, heat ghee on medium-high for 1 minute. Add cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for about 30 seconds. Add onions and sauté for 8 minutes, stirring regularly, until golden brown. Add garlic and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, then add jalapeno pepper, garam masala, mango powder, turmeric, fenugreek, salt and cayenne. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the masala for 5 to 8 minutes, until ghee glistens on top. Stir in water.
  11. Add boiled chickpeas and their water to the masala. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, then cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (this ensures that the spicing has gone into the chickpeas). Stir in cilantro.
  12. Wine: Choose a cool-climate Pinot Blanc, as it has good acidity that complements this curry.

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Anonymous John said...

The next time I am having a dinner party, this will be the main event! Love the recipe and your others too ... what a great variety!

8:02 AM  
Blogger Sunshinemom said...

Thanks for coming over to my blog.

We make the eggplant and papaya separately in this way but pairing them together is certainly unusual and interesting.

Your chickpeas were no doubt delicious. Thanks for sharing those recipes.

7:25 PM  

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