Category Archives: Cooking QED

A simple recipe for Chole

This the first of a series of posts in the Category: Cooking: QED, which stands for quick, easy and delicious. The last word may be a bit of a stretch but dumb or dull does not seem to set the right tone. The recipeI am about to share has a long history with my family. Soon after David was born, Susan went to a play group at Cornell for mothers of young children. There she met Smita Chandra, who was a nanny taking care of another family’s child. Despite the difference in “status” they became good friends. Susan spent many hours watching her develop the recipes for From Bengal to Punjab: The Cuisines of India by Smita Chandra, published in Oct 1, 1991. This and Smita’s two other books can be found on Amazon.

The cookbook was the source of my recipe for Chole. This dish is known as Channah Masala at the Indian restaurant Tandoor in the food court at West Campus Union on the Duke campus. Like covid the recipe has been radically changed by a series of mutations. This and all the other recipes in my blog are designed for two people.

Step 1. Open 2 cans (16 oz or 14.5 oz or whatever they are these days) garbanzo beans. Drain off the liquid, add ½ cup water, and cook 10 minutes on 70% in microwave. This method relieves the boredom of heating them in a sauce pan and allows for parallel processing

Step 2. Cut 1 medium onion and 1 medium tomato into small pieces. In a 3 or 4 quart pan  cook onion (once you have done chopping it), and add then tomato.

Step 3. By now the beans should be done. Drain off about half the water, add to pan, and stir to mix up the ingredients. Then add: 1t cumin, ½ t coriander, ½ t turmeric, ¼ t cayenne, 1 t garam masala, 1T lemon juice. T is not a typo it is Tablespoon versus teaspoon. Of course I don’t actually measure these things, just dump what looks like the right amount on top of the beans, and then stir to mix them up.

Step 4. Cook 5 minutes and let it sit on the still warm burner for a few minutes. Divide into four approximately 8 ounce servings. Keep one for tonight’s dinner and put the other three in the freezer (the appliance in the basement that is dedicated to this purpose, not the one that is part of your refrigerator)

To go along with the chole, get one pound of chicken tenders. Divide them into two batches and freeze one. Cut the chicken tenders into pieces that are about 1 inch long (or whatever size that looks right to you). Saute them in a small amount of olive oil infrying pan until they are done, and then cover with an appropriate amount of Tikka Masala Sauce, an continue heating until the sauce is warm..

Samosas (an Indian pasty with potatoes and peas) are the third part of the dinner. The ones I use come frozen and you cook them in a 375 oven for 15 minutes. Which of course means the first step in preparing dinner is to preheat the oven. We use the ones made by Sukhi Singh ( Before the pandemic there were 10 in a box but now there are only 8. Sukhi confidently says ”There are two types of people: people who love Indian cuisine, and those who just haven’t tried it yet.”

I wish I had the courage to say: ”There are two types of people: people who love probability, and those who haven’t read my books yet.” But I don’t want to follow in the footsteps of the Duke undergrad who plagiarized her commencement speech almost word for word from one that was given at Harvard a few years ago. I follow the rule: if you copy from one book it is plagiarism, if you copy form 10 it is scholarship. Of course you should change the numbers or the notation and introduce your own typos.