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Dinner Tonight: Chana Masala

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Chana masala, more than anything else, speaks to the wondrous things Indian cuisine can do with vegetables. I don't think any other cuisine can make dishes as hearty, rich, filling, and, well, meaty with nary an animal protein in sight. If I ever became a vegetarian, I could see myself living exclusively on curry—even more than I already do.

Chana masala is a good staple recipe to add to your repertoire. It's begun like most curries, with ginger and onion, and then adds the spices to the mix to sizzle and marry in the oil, followed by tomato. Chana masala is best when it has an all-important note of sourness to balance the richness. Madhur Jaffrey, whom this recipe comes from via Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, calls for amchoor powder, a tart spice made from unripe mangoes. But I've always had good success with a squeeze of lemon juice instead.

Chana Masala

About the author: Blake Royer founded The Paupered Chef with Nick Kindelsperger, where he writes about food and occasional travels. After a year in Estonia, he's now living in Chicago.

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