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Fierce Foodie: Not Born To Cook


a blogumn by Roya Hamadani

It’s taken me many a ruined dish to learn to feed myself.  For instance, some spices can be tossed in with abandon while others ruin the whole pot if used indiscriminately.  Fenugreek powder, once overused, cannot be undone, even if you strain the dish, wash the vegetables thoroughly and start the sauce over again.  The cooked items will retain the flavor of ass.

gasstoveAs a child I somehow developed an intense fear of the stove and oven.  At the age of twenty-three I was terrified by the gas cooker range.  The bright blue flame brought back bad memories of chemistry lab.  I was convinced that I would blow up the whole building all in the name of a boiled egg.

The first dish I attempted alone was a simple broccoli and pasta dish in white wine sauce.  Simple!  Ha!  I had never before cut an onion, so I was unaware of the fact that you could slice it in half first, and thereby avoid the awkward and dangerous task of cutting into something round and roly-poly with a very sharp knife.  Luckily I still have both my thumbs.

The dish might have been edible if I hadn’t made the novice mistake of thinking more is better.  Two tablespoons of white wine makes something yummy, a cup of it turns it into alcoholic swill.  And you have to be careful with substitutions.  Fried onions and spinach mixed with plain yogurt make a Persian side dish; vanilla yogurt will not do.  Double check the label, or prepare to be disgusted.

When people say they can’t cook, I always want to add the word “yet.”  Cooking is a skill that can be picked up any time and at any age; all you need is the willingness to fail.  At least no one makes you eat your mistakes.  After the jump, Pindi Channa, one of the easiest recipes in my arsenal.

Easy Pindi Channa (Indian Spiced Chickpeas)

pindichanna1Chop up a medium to large onion and sauté over low/med heat in 2 tbsp oil.  After  a couple of minutes add 2 cloves of minced garlic and a tsp of minced ginger.  Add more ginger if you like things spicy, omit ginger if you are a fan of the mild.  Once the onion is translucent, not brown, add ½ tsp of turmeric, 1½ tsp ground coriander and 1 tsp ground cumin.  Stir.  Smell the spices as they heat up in the oil.  Then add 1 can drained chickpeas, 1 can of diced tomatoes with liquid and 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro.  Simmer over low/med heat for 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Before serving, sprinkle with ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro.  Serve over rice with plain yogurt.  This is a dish that tastes even better on the second day, so seriously think about making it the night before you plan on eating it. 
. photo credit: Gypsy D