Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Chole (Chickpea Curry

It’s amazing how much more energy I have when the weather cools; yesterday was nearly 80°F and I had to force myself to work through my list of to-do’s, but as the temperatures dropped once again, we slept well, we awoke rested and energetic, and I ended up adding things to my list, for the sheer joy of feeling like doing things.

A new recipe – for me, for us – Chole – is bubbling in our crock pot. It sounded so good! I found the recipe – I think on – several months ago, but today is the perfect day to put it all together. It has so many things in it which are good for us, but especially chick peas, tomatoes, ginger and turmeric.

I had no idea what it would look like, but it looks like things we used to eat at the vegetarian restaurant Greenland, down in Souk Mubarakiyya, in Kuwait. I think it is missing a few spices, probably things we have a hard time getting here. It wasn’t even easy just finding mustard seeds, if I had needed those dried lemons or other spices exotic to Pensacola, I couldn’t have attempted it. This Chole won’t be the same as the delicious, spicy, complex dishes our Indian quilters would bring to the weekly stitch meetings, but it will be a good tasty dinner on a rainy night. I wish we had the fried Indian breads that Wikipedia says are traditionally served with it.


Chole (Chickpea Stew)

• 2 cups of chickpeas soaked overnight
• 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 large onion, minced
• 1 red bell pepper, minced
• 2 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
• 1-inch piece ginger, minced
• 1 14 oz can of coconut milk
• 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 tsp coriander powder
• 1/2 tsp turmeric
• 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
• 1/2 tsp ground cloves
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 tsp garam masala
• 1.5 tsp mustard seeds
• 1/2 tsp salt

Blend all the ingredients but chickpeas in a food processor or a blender until liquid. Wash and drain chickpeas, place them in a slow cooker, pour the blended mixture over and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 4-5.

Make ahead: we usually make double or triple of this recipe, since we love it.  Let it cool, and store chole in freezer-safe zip-lock bags in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Just for fun, I am going to share with you the Wikipedia version. I laugh to think how intimidated I would be –


preparation time=45mins cooking time=1hour serves=4

Ingredients For the chole 1 cup kabuli chana (white chick peas), soaked overnight 1 tea bag or tsp tea leaves, tied in a muslin cloth (optional) 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera) 1 onion, finely chopped 12 mm (1/2″) piece of ginger (adrak), grated 2 cloves of garlic (lehsun), grated 2 tsp chole masala 2 tsp chilli powder 2 tsp dried mango powder (amchur) 1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi) 1 tbsp coriander (dhania) powder 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera) powder 2 tbsp oil salt to taste

For the bhature 1/2 cup plain flour (maida) 1/2 cup potatoes, boiled and grated 1 1/2 tsp oil salt to taste oil for deep-frying

For serving 1 onion, sliced 4 lemon wedge

Recipe For the chole Pressure cook the Kabuli chana with the tea bag for 3 whistles until they are soft . Drain and keep aside. Discard the tea bag. Heat the oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds. When the seeds crackle, add the onion, ginger and garlic and sauté till the onion is golden brown. Add the chole masala, chilli powder, amchur, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin seed powder and salt and sauté for another minute. Add the Kabuli chana and 1 cup of water and mix well. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Keep aside

For the bhature Combine the flour, potato, 1½ teaspoons of oil and salt and knead into a firm dough without using any water. Knead the dough very well till it is smooth Cover with a wet muslin cloth and rest the dough for 10 minutes Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and roll out into circles of 125 mm. (5″) diameter. Deep fry in hot oil till the bhaturas puff up and both sides are golden brown. Serve hot with the chole, sliced onion and lemon wedges. Tips While frying the bhature, press the centre lightly with a frying spoon so as to help it to puff up. Chole masala is a blend of spices which is readily available at most grocery stores. [2]

LOL, cook with a tea bag for three whistles??? I am already way out of my league! And “Chole masala is a blend of spices which is readily available at most grocery stores” does not apply to Pensacola, Florida!

January 16, 2013 Posted by | Cooking, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, India, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Recipes, Restaurant, Shopping | , , , | Leave a comment

Luxurious Blessing

I was making a salad to go with today’s lunch and remembered AdventureMan warning me we were just about out of roasted pecans, and needed more. It is a cool – almost cold – rainy rainy day in Pensacola, a perfect day for cranking up the oven to roast some pecans. We still have a wealth of pecans from a generous donation made by my dear daughter-in-law’s Texas aunt, who has a heart as big as Texas.

As I roast the pecans (425°F for about 10 minutes) the house becomes fragrant with that luxurious smell. I am transported back to Kuwait, where I remember paying a fortune for a small packet of pecans I needed to bake a pecan pie. Normally, we didn’t even bother looking at the prices, but the price on those pecans was so high I really had to think about buying them, it’s like paying an extortionist. But I needed pecans. I paid.

Now, we have this luxurious blessing of pecans, and not just pecans, but these fresh, fragrant, tasty Texas pecans, and as they roast, they are blessing my entire house with a rich roasty fragrance. It doesn’t take much to make me happy. This wonderful aunt gave us this wealth of pecans, and the gift just keeps on giving and giving, through the Christmas season, well into January – and we still have pecans left. I’ve paid a lot more and gotten a lot less joy from a purchase. I think of this wonderful woman and her gift every time we use them.


Yes, I roasted a lot of pecans, because we sprinkle them on all kinds of things, and that roasted flavor just enriches everything they touch. Yes, they keep in an air-tight container, for as long as it takes for us to eat them, which can be two or three weeks.

And here is the salad, post-pecans but pre-salad dressing:


It’s another luxurious blessing. About twelve years ago, when we had a posting in Germany, we packed everything into storage and just bought what we needed to live with. As days go by, however, you – or I, anyway – just need a few little things to make life nice. You pick up a few gorgeous dessert plates here, a few Christmas ornaments there . . . some cookie sheets, just a little extra, and before you know it, life is no longer so simple. To help keep it simple, I mostly bought things I could just leave behind when we left the country to head to the next country, or I transported things home in those big bags we used to be able to take on the transoceanic flights. I ended up having to rent a storage locker in Seattle for all the treasures I accumulated in our second round of overseas living, LOL.

The first year we were living once again in Germany, as we were buying some wardrobe units, I spotted two salad / serving bowls at IKEA. They aren’t costly porcelain, they are just ceramic bowls, but I love the shape, and inside each one are two beautiful purply-blue irises. I looked at them and loved their conception, their design. I pointed them out to AdventureMan, and then promptly forgot them. Because he is a very smart man, I found them under the Christmas tree a few months later, and was thrilled to recognize them. We have both treasured them ever since.

With each subsequent move, I carefully wrapped those bowls and used them again and again at each posting. We pull them out all the time, these bowls are a perfect size for a salad-to-share or a side dish, and to this day, they look like new. It makes me laugh; I’ve had much more expensive dishes which were not so long for this world; these are go-to serving bowls, and still look brand new.

So today I am feeling extraordinarily thankful for the great luxury of pecans, the wonderful aroma of their roasting, and the great blessing of serving them in a bowl which gives us joy every time we use them.

January 16, 2013 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Cooking, Cultural, ExPat Life, Germany, Home Improvements, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Moving, Random Musings, Recipes, Thanksgiving, Travel | 4 Comments