Mark Bittman: Curried Chickpea Salad


By Alaina Sullivan

Chickpeas - aka garbanzo beans - have a distinct flavor and a meaty bite that make them exceptionally versatile for mashing, roasting, frying and serving in a variety of ways. Here they are used as the foundation for a substantial salad-one that is dressed in classic Indian flavors (curry, coconut milk and cilantro), and bulked up with red bell pepper and peas. There's a ton of room for flexibility with this recipe-you could serve the salad with grains or greens, or change up the supporting vegetables as you like. But regardless of any creative tweaks, I highly recommend cooking your own chickpeas rather than using canned ones-it takes a bit more time, but the difference in flavor and texture is worth it. From How to Cook Everything: The Basics.

Curried Chickpea Salad

A wildly popular salad with Indian flavors that keeps well in the fridge to enjoy anytime.

Time: 45 minutes, mostly unattended

Makes: 6 to 8 servings

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste

11/2 teaspoons curry powder, or more to taste

2 scallions, chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup coconut milk, or more to taste

4 cups cooked or drained canned chickpeas

1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped

1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1. Combine the lime juice, curry powder, scallions, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in the coconut milk.

2. Add the chickpeas, bell pepper, and peas to the bowl and toss gently until everything is coated with dressing, adding more coconut milk 1 tablespoon at a time if the salad seems dry.

3. Let the salad sit for at least 30 minutes, stirring once or twice to distribute the dressing. (Or refrigerate for up to 5 days.) When you're ready to eat, stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning and moisture, adding more lime juice, coconut milk, or curry powder if you like. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Tips:

This salad is good with canned beans but superior with cooked dried chickpeas, which have a more intense flavor. You can also control the texture so the chickpeas are as firm or tender as you like them.

Variations:

Curried Chickpea Salad with Rice or Grains: Add up to 1 cup cooked rice or other grain in Step 2.

Curried Chickpea Salad with Greens: Toss the chickpeas with 1 to 2 cups lettuce, arugula, or spinach just before serving.

Southwestern Black Bean Salad: Some easy switches yield a totally different result: Substitute chili powder for the curry powder, olive oil for the coconut milk, black beans for the chickpeas, and corn kernels for the peas.

In How to Cook Everything: The Basics Mark Bittman reveals how truly easy it is to learn fundamental techniques and recipes. From dicing vegetables and roasting meat, to cooking building-block meals that include salads, soups, poultry, meats, fish, sides, and desserts, Bittman explains what every home cook, particularly novices, should know.