Mark Bittman on Shine: Curried Chickpeas with Cauliflower (or Okra) and Chicken


By Freya Bellin

Okra is an underdog of a vegetable, but I'm a full-fledged fan. It has a crunchy exterior, a tender center, and lots of texture from the seeds inside-which is why I chose to go with the okra variation of this recipe. Its season is short-lived here in New York, so I typically jump at the opportunity to cook with it.

This dish cooks in phases (first chicken, then chickpeas, then veggies), but it still has all the benefits of a one-pot meal, as the flavors keep building. As the title of the recipe might lead you to believe, the curried chickpeas were a highlight. I couldn't resist snacking on them once they were removed from the pan: browned, crispy, spicy, delicious. They make a great snack, with or without the rest of the recipe. The coconut, ginger, and curry seasonings add some classic Indian flavors, and the chiles just the right amount of heat. I don't think this needs sugar (in fact, I seasoned with more salt at the end) but taste as you go. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

Curried Chickpeas and Cauliflower with Chicken

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 40 minutes with cooked or canned beans

Chicken, cauliflower, and chickpeas all take well to strong seasonings, and they taste great together. In this one-pan Indian-tinged stir-fry, two other c's-curry and coconut milk-round out the dish into a light stew that's perfect to serve with brown basmati rice or Whole Wheat Chapatis.

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into chunks or slices and blotted dry

Salt and black pepper

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1/2 cup chopped scallions, white parts only

2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 cup coconut milk

1 small cauliflower, cored and roughly chopped (see okra variation below)

1 or 2 small dried hot red chiles (like Thai), or a pinch of red chile flakes

1 teaspoon sugar, optional

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

1. Put a large, deep skillet over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, swirl it around, and immediately add the chicken. Stir once, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and let it sit for 1 minute before stirring again. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken has lost its pink color, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the ginger and scallions and cook for a half minute or so.

2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. When it's hot, add the chickpeas and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the chickpeas are lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the curry powder, stir again, and remove from the pan.

3. Put the coconut milk, cauliflower, and chiles into the hot pan and reduce the heat so it bubbles gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender and the mixture thickens, 10 minutes or longer.

4. Return the chicken and chickpeas to the pan and toss once or twice. Stir in the sugar if you like, then garnish with cilantro and serve.

Curried Chickpeas with Okra with Chicken. Instead of the cauliflower, trim the stemsfrom 1 pound okra but leave the pods whole. Proceed with the recipe, cooking the okra with the coconut milk mixture in Step 3 until it's just tender, which could be less than 5 minutes, depending on its size.


From the award-winning champion of conscious eating and author of the bestselling Food Matters comes The Food Matters Cookbook, offering the most comprehensive and straightforward ideas yet for cooking easy, delicious foods that are as good for you as they are for the planet. The Food Matters Cookbookis the essential encyclopedia and guidebook to responsible eating, with more than 500 recipes that capture Bittman's typically relaxed approach to everything in the kitchen.