Though most people associate Goan cooking with seafood and pork, the region is also home to a vibrant vegetarian cuisine. The recipe for this dish of slow-cooked chickpeas comes from Karen Andrade, who inherited it from her childhood nanny.
Nutty, spicy, and rich, this is the perfect dish whatever the weather. It's hearty enough for a cold winter's day, but it also has a bright heat that makes it the perfect thing for a summer lunch along with a bowl of white rice. Feel free to play with the chilies in the recipe. If you love spicy food, feel free to dial up the heat. And if you're looking for something a little less incendiary, don't hesitate to cut back on the red and green chilies.
4 dried red chilies (crushed) or 1 tbsp red chili powder
1 lb dried chickpeas or red kidney beans soaked overnight, or 2 28-oz cans cooked beans
Heat a small cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add all the ingredients for the spice mixture and toast till they are aromatic. Take care not to burn them.
Let them cool slightly and then grind them to a fine powder in a spice grinder. Put the spice powder in a bowl and set aside.
In the same pan, toast the coconut over medium-low heat until it turns a light golden brown. Set aside until ready to use.
In a large sauté pan, heat 3–4 tbsp of vegetable oil until it begins to shimmer. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until they become limp and translucent.
Add the ginger, garlic, and curry leaves and cook for a minute, until you begin to smell their aroma distinctly.
Add the green and red chilies and stir well.
Add the spice mixture along with the coconut and fry, stirring often, to incorporate the onions with the spices.
Add the chickpeas or kidney beans along with 2 tsp salt. If using canned beans, add just enough water to cover by half an inch. If using dried, soaked beans, cover with an inch of water. Raise the heat to high just till the liquid in the pan comes to a boil, then reduce to low, partially cover the pan and let cook until the beans are tender. Add water to the pan as needed if it seems like the sauce is getting too thick. When the beans are cooked, check for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Serve alongside boiled white rice. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.