earthquake-proof curried chickpea and potato stew

by Stacy

Sunday afternoon I had turned off the burner on my stove under this dish when the 7.2 earthquake rattled my pans and my nerves for about 45 seconds. I’ve felt a few minor quakes since we moved and in Japan a few years ago, but this was my first “real” earthquake. I don’t think I care to repeat it. The recipe, however, I would be up for a second shot.

curried chickpea and potato stew

The recipe is from a cookbook called Yoga Kitchen: Recipes from the Shoshoni Yoga Retreat, currently on loan from a friend. It jumped out at me as something I could make with ingredients currently on hand, one of my favorite recipe qualifiers.

The whole cookbook is vegetarian fare heavily influence by Asian cuisine and ayurvedic principles. I borrowed the book after we made another recipe (that I might repeat and post) that was really good, and I look forward to trying a few more. My only complaint is that the instructions aren’t great — but I rewrote them anyway.

The stew recipe is well-spiced, but fairly simple. Ghee (clarified butter, though I just used oil) is heated, then spices are added. After toasting the spices, diced potatoes are sauteed in the pan for about five minutes leaving them fragrant and golden. The potatoes are then simmered with chickpeas until tender.

potatoes with cumin

The resulting stew, pictured in the first photo above, is hearty and simple. It made my whole apartment smell like cumin all day. My problem was that the weather wasn’t cold enough for such a stew, so I lightened it up by serving it with basmati rice and some sauteed carrots and onions for color and crunch.

curried chickpea and potato stew

My diced potatoes were cut in fairly small cubes, so the full half hour of simmering may have been a bit too long. When I stirred the potatoes and beans together, the potatoes tended to break down. The result was an extra-thick stew, but not many potato chunks. It was still tasty, just stir gently if you want larger pieces of intact potato.

Other alternatives I considered in lieu of side dishes: adding vegetables like diced bell peppers, onion, carrots, spinach, or peas.

Apologies for a somewhat uncompelling post. Please don’t let it deter you from making this dish. Without smell-o-vision it was hard to describe it, and the experience of the earthquake is too strongly associated with it in my mind to write about it any other way. It may not be interesting to read about, but it’s delicious.

curried chickpea and potato stew

Curried Chickpea and Potato Stew

Adapted from Yoga Kitchen: Recipes from the Shoshoni Yoga Retreat
Serves 4-6

2 cups cooked, or 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas
4 cups water or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ghee or neutral oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3 cups peeled, diced waxy potatoes (like Yukon Gold)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1.) Rinse and drain cooked or canned chickpeas. Place them in a large pot with water or stock and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes.

2.) Heat ghee or oil in a large skillet over fairly high heat. When hot, add cumin seeds and turmeric and brown for about one minute. Add the potatoes and saute for five minutes.

3.) When beans and bay leaves have simmers, add sauteed potatoes to the beans. Stir and cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in salt, coriander, ground cumin, and mix well. Serve topped with cilantro, and with rice and sauteed vegetables if desired.

curried chickpea and potato stew

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kate April 8, 2010 at 10:50 am

I’m in the middle of a chickpea addiction right now and this looks yummy. Question about the recipe though…you simmer the chickpeas in water, then when the potatoes have sauteed you add the potatoes to the chickpeas in the water? Or do you drain the chickpeas from the water first?


stacy April 8, 2010 at 10:58 am

Yep, just add the potatoes in to the chickpea/water pot. They don’t saute long enough to get crispy or anything, just infused with spices, so adding them to the water just softens them up.


Birch April 17, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Lee made this last week and it is OMG SO YUMMY!


stacy April 17, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Glad you enjoyed it! Did she just make the stew or did she serve it with more stuff?


Jennifer May 3, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I made this last night and it was awesome. I did the bigger potato chunks, which was really good and probably what was intended, but I actually like the way your thick mixture looks and it’s making me want to try again with smaller cubes!

Btw, I served mine over rice that I cooked in the rice cooker with some butter and turmeric, too, because it just makes the rice look so pretty :)


stacy May 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm

That does sound great! The hubby isn’t a fan of Indian, so I am gradually adding to my collection in that spice profile. Turmeric hasn’t made it home with me yet, but I think it needs to go on the list. I’ve been loving your food photos, too. =)


Kate July 25, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Soo…I tried making this tonight and I let it simmer and simmer and simmer for awhile and it never reduced to the same consistency of yours. I’m not sure what happened, I even started out with less water than you did, because 4 cups sounded like a lot! Any ideas? Maybe my spuds were just not absorbent enough. The flavors were great, I just need help on the texture!


Stacy July 25, 2010 at 5:39 pm

The potatoes really soak up a lot of water, so it might be that reducing the water didn’t leave enough moisture for them to get soft enough? Also, I overcooked mine and stirred it too much, so it shouldn’t really end up as mush. I just didn’t get to take it off the stove right away since the earth wasn’t standing still.

I can’t remember if I actually used a waxy potato or if I only had a russet potato which wouldn’t hold its shape. Hmm.


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