Monday, October 8, 2012

Curried Chickpeas: All I wanted

All I wanted was Joan's on Third curried chickpeas and blueberry ice cream.

It was an unusual craving -- spawned most likely from the near 100 degree heat that was smothering Los Angeles rather than from an unintended pregnancy or munchie-inducing inebriates.

On any typical Saturday, I would ignore said cravings and go about my regular Saturday business. I'd make my regular grocery trips to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods to stock up on quinoa and slivered almonds for the week, and then make some sort of eggy concoction - an egg sandwich on a whole wheat English muffin, braised kale with a fried egg, a frittata if I was feeling particularly fancy and had bothered to purchase fresh goat cheese that day.

But this day was different. It wasn't a typical Saturday at all - it was my birthday, it was 100 degrees out, and I wanted curried chickpeas and blueberry ice cream.

Logic would dictate that the smart thing to do would be to go buy blueberry ice cream from a grocery store or local ice cream shop. Logic would also dictate that rather than walking a mile in the heat to secure curried chickpeas, it would make far more sense to take the 15 minutes to make them at home with the mere six base ingredients required for execution.

Six ingredients that I already possessed in my cupboard.

Just an arm's length away.

Not a mile from my apartment.

But it was my birthday, and I wanted to do something special. I wanted Joan to make my chickpeas, and I wanted to make a lavendar-infused blueberry ice cream with dark chocolate shavings myself.

It was going to be my big girl, look-how-old-and-mature-I-am, birthday ice cream.

It all sounded quite brilliant in my 29-year-old head.

Everything started out fine enough. I went to four different stores to precure all the ingredients I needed to make the proposed ice cream. I carefully simmered the blueberries with sugar over the stove until it turned into a syrupy jam. I pressed said blueberry jam through a strainer, discarded the skins, and then returned the syrup to the stove to infuse with the dried lavender.

And then I strained it once again.

My patience was starting to waver as I took in the blue splatters that were now speckling my previously pristine countertops and floor, but I shook it off. I had curried chickpeas to attend to -- just a steamy 15 minute walk away in the 100 degree heat.

I felt empowered (and sweaty) as I walked into the bustling cafe, still crowded with couples going halvsies on tuna melts and friends eating around the fried wontons in their Chinese Chicken Salads.

"I never do this!" I thought with giddy pleasure as I walked up to the counter to place my order.

I could scarcely wait to sit down and eat a salad and an iced tea in a restaurant.

Because, this was clearly revolutionary behavior.

People never eat salad and iced tea for lunch at a restaurant on a Saturday.

"I'll have the salad trio with curried chickpeas, couscous, and the brussels sprouts with dates, and a peach iced tea," I said without hesitation, already pulling out my credit card to complete the transaction.

The server looked up with concern.

"Just a second," She said, "I have to check to make sure we have curried chickpeas today."

I scoffed at her response. Of course they had curried chickpeas today. They always had curried chickpeas. I'd never been there when they hadn't had curried chickpeas.

Joan wouldn't let me down.

Not on my birthday.
"Sorry, we don't have them," She said a moment later, shaking her head with casual indifference, unaware of how her words were resonating in my head. "What would you like instead?"

"Instead?" There was no instead! I hadn't even really wanted the couscous or Brussels sprouts to begin with. If I'd had my way, I would have ordered a trio of all curried chickpeas. An entire pound of them, heaped up on a plate of arugula, shining brightly for all the pretty people at Joan's to see.

I hastily asked for the butternut squash with yogurt, cringing at the seasonally inappropriateness of my order, and collected my number. This was not the leisurely lunch I was anticipating. But it was no matter, I had ice cream in my future. Not just any ice cream -- lavender-infused blueberry ice cream with dark chocolate shavings.

I retreated home, eager to start in on the (now) redemptive birthday present to myself. My eagerness was quickly curtailed by my inability to find a key part to my KitchenAid stand mixer ice cream attachment. After 30 minutes of rummaging through every cabinet in my kitchen, I finally found it.

And then discovered that the sole outlet in my kitchen wasn't working.

Undeterred, I blended the blueberry jam with the cream in my living room, and then plugged my mixer into the outlet next to my dining room table.

I was going to have my big girl birthday ice cream - even if meant destroying my big girl apartment in the process.

Or settling for blueberry lavender dark chocolate birthday soup when it was too hot in my apartment for the ice cream to freeze properly.

An hour later, I lay in bed staring up at the ceiling fan, exhausted and sticky from both the heat and  errant drops of blueberry soup that were now freckling my arm. I attempted to see the bright side.

"At least I won't spoil my appetite for dinner!" I reasoned. "It's all really for the best. Quite serendipitous indeed!"

As if on cue, my cell phone rang.

It was the restaurant where I was meeting my three closest friends in two hours.

"Power outtage. Closed."

The words became a blur. I nodded my head as though the host could see me through the phone. I heard myself say, "I understand." I heard myself accept his apology without screeching, "But it's my birthday!" I heard myself graciously react like a grown-up -- like a 29-year-old.

With laughter.

The next weekend I made curried chickpeas at home. And I bought blueberry ice cream from a store.

Curried Chickpeas
Inspired by Joan's on Third
Serves 3

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (I use Spice Island's yellow curry)
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Arugula for serving

Heat large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, swirling to coat the base of the ban. Add the onion, and saute for 5-7 minutes until translucent.

Lower the heat slightly, and add the chickpeas. Saute with the onions for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned on all sides.

Add the curry powder and tumeric, stirring for 30 seconds so the spices get lightly toasted. Pour in the water, scraping up the spices to coat the chickpeas and onions. Turn off the heat and toss with lemon juice.

Transfer chickpeas to a sealed container and refrigerate until chilled. Serve, piled high, over a bed of arugula with optional saffron-scented couscous on the side.


J said...

OH! What a birthday adventure... Sorry that it was so ... erm... adventurous? Sounds a bit like my birthday at Disneyland a few years ago ... where it rained in a torrential downpour and a lot of rides stopped due to the water getting into the system. The funny part is that of course, I'm from Seattle so the Rain shouldn't bother me, but of course, it was really really wet... and I was prepped for Sunny California in December.

Just a fun ... hopefully less labor intensive idea for the next time you want that ice cream. make some lavander simple syrup and add it to frozen blueberries in your food processor and add half and half or whipping cream if you are so inspired and then just let them whirr around in there for a bit. It makes a really yummy ice cream in minutes. oh and Happy belated birthday!

Ashley said...

We should do a make up brunch at Cliff's Edge!

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