It has been almost unbearably cold here in Western Colorado over the last four weeks or so. Last year at this time I was trail running in shorts and this year I can’t be outside for more than a minute or two without a full-fledged parka.
It doesn’t help that the house we rent was apparently constructed by middle schoolers so there are visible gaps between windows which create an awesome wind tunnel of freezing. Sweatshirts and blankets are necessary in every room of the house.
Any time I see a dish that looks warm and inviting, I want it immediately and that’s what led me to this Cashew and Chickpea Curry. Even though it includes a homemade curry spice blend, it’s fairly straightforward to make and is just spicy enough to ward off the chills.
1) Add cumin seed, coriander seed, cloves, cardamom, and peppercorns to a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
2) Add those spices to a spice grinder with other spice mixture ingredients and pulse until ground.
3) In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Then add diced onions, peppers, garlic, and ginger. Cook until veggies are soft, about 5-6 minutes.
4) Add ground spice mixture to pot along with cashews and stir together. Cook for about a minute to heat spice mixture.
5) Add coconut milk and remove from heat. Add mixture to blender and blend until smooth.
6) Return curry to the pot and bring to a simmer. Add chickpeas and spinach and simmer for a few minutes to combine flavors.
7) Season with lime juice and a pinch of salt if necessary and serve over rice garnished with cilantro.
Recipe adapted from a Serious Eats recipe.
Cashew and Chickpea Curry
If you didn’t want to bother with the curry spice mixture here, you can skip this step and just use a few tablespoons of yellow curry paste in the recipe.
I actually left out a few spices from the original recipe because I couldn’t find them and didn’t have the desire to hunt them down.
If possible, use whole spices for this because you can toast the spices in a skillet for a few minutes which really brings out their flavors. I just toasted my cumin, cardamom, and coriander.
Then I used my little spice grinder to pulse everything together and ended up with this lovely dark yellow spice mixture.
I ended up with about 1/4 cup of spice mixture and I used it all for the curry.
Building the Curry
Honestly, the hardest part of this recipe is just chopping up the onions, garlic, ginger, and chiles. That should convey to you how easy this recipe actually is once you have all the pieces in place. If you don’t have Thai bird chiles, you can easily substitute Serrano peppers.
There’s no reason to be super-anal about chopping this stuff because you’re just going to blend it all together later anyway, but try to get everything somewhat even so it cooks evenly.
Add some butter to a large pot and then add all of the veggies over medium heat. Cook them for five minutes or so until they soften.
Then you can add in all of your spice mixture. It’ll immediately smell awesome.
Then add your cashews and stir everything together. Let it continue to cook for a minute or two so the spices can get warm.
At this point, add your coconut milk to the pot and remove it from the heat.
Add everything to a blender and pulse it until mostly smooth. This is a pretty important step because you don’t really want whole cashews in the finished dish but you want the cashew flavor.
Add this pureed mixture back to the pan and bring it to a simmer.
Then add the chickpeas which you should drain and rinse.
And the spinach which you should also rinse.
Stir everything together and when the spinach is wilted, its’ ready to serve!
Season the curry with lime juice and a pinch of salt and serve it with some fresh cilantro on top.
You could serve this Cashew and Chickpea Curry with rice or with some sort of flat bread. Either way it’s fantastic on a cold winter night and is totally doable even on a week night!