Saturday, June 18, 2011

Curry Chickpea Stuffed Pitas with Tsatziki

For a soon-to-be graduate in the fall, summer is that awkward in-between phase where you are not graduated but you are also not attending class.  You might have a summer job or internship, but you still feel the pressure to put all this “free time” to use and find “the job” for after graduation.  Since I can’t yet apply to jobs, I’ve been thinking a lot about resumes, interviews, and jobs.    I never expected food to come into play.

I have been stuck on one of the seemingly favorite interview/application questions: “What is one of your weaknesses?”   Now, I love questions that focus on my insecurities as much as the next candidate, but I still find it difficult to list and describe weaknesses.   I have finally found my area of development: spicy foods. 
As a kid my favorite foods were mostly comfort foods like meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and spaghetti and meatballs.   Thus, you won’t find me napalming my food with Sriracha, or setting it ablaze with red pepper flakes today.   Eating at home required only a tolerance for black peppercorns.   However, age and exposure have enlightened my tastebuds to how limited I am by spicy foods.  I feel that I am missing out because I have refused foods that are “spicy”.   I cannot expect to taste the full flavor of life without a little sweat and tears.  To improve meant braving the heat and tackling the fire.  My goal this summer is to acquire a liking for spicy foods. 
So, just as I was congratulating myself on not only tolerating but actually enjoying the heat of curry powder, I discovered that it is only a pale, Western approximation of traditional Indian spice blends.  Boo.  Well, it’s a start, I guess.    
Curry powder suits my tolerance for heat because of the familiar spiciness from cumin, coriander, ginger, and cayenne.  I enjoy the concentrated combination of these individual spices in the curry powder.  Chickpeas serve as the perfect protein, beautifully blended along with garlic and onions.  Stuffed inside of a warm, whole wheat pita and topped with cool and creamy tsatziki, this dish sets you up for a wonderful juxtaposition of temperatures, textures, and tastes. 
Slowly, but surely I will build my spicy heat tolerance. 

Curry Chickpeas
2 T olive oil
½ onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
2 tsp fresh ginger root, finely diced
1/8 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp cinnamon
2-3 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas / garbanzo beans
Salt and Pepper
1.       In medium sized saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and sauté onions until tender (about 5-7 min)
2.       Stir in garlic, ginger, and remaining spices.  Cook for about 1 minute over medium heat, stirring constantly. 
3.       Mix in chickpeas and liquid.  Cook until well blended and heated through (about 3-5 min).

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