Friday, May 22, 2009

indian-spiced chickpea salad with yogurt and herbs

One letter can spell the difference between this simple chickpea salad and un petit desastre.

In my case, that letter is “h”—as in,“shimmering” versus “simmering.” Somehow, against all logic and culinary intuition, I managed to confuse the former for the latter when heating the peanut oil for this recipe.

Sure, that doesn’t sound like a big deal, except the moment I added mustard seeds to said “simmering” oil they immediately backfired, raining tiny pellets all over the stove.

The beauty of this recipe is that it took approximately two minutes to correct this mistake (well, that plus 15 minutes of sponging down the stove after dinner—also, my pride has not fully recovered). And the mustard seeds, when properly toasted with cumin and fennel, work to fantastic (and very fragrant) effect. I only wish I had more occasion to “pour hot oil and spices” over foodstuffs.

Indian-Spiced Chickpea Salad with Yogurt and Herbs
Adapted from Food & Wine

This recipes comes from Jerry Traunfeld, of Seattle’s Poppy restaurant. (Yes, it’s on my list.) It’s delicious as printed, though I reduced the amount of yogurt to about 1/2 cup.

Serves 4

Two 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped mint
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Pour the chickpeas into a large bowl. In a small skillet, heat the peanut oil until shimmering. Add the mustard seeds, partially cover the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until the mustard seeds stop popping, about 1 minute. Add the cumin and fennel seeds and the crushed red pepper and cook until the mixture is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour the hot oil and spices over the chickpeas. Stir in the yogurt, lemon juice, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro and mint and salt. Serve the chickpea salad at room temperature.


  1. This was effing delicious. And the snap, crackle, and pop of adding the mustard seeds to the first batch of s(h)immering oil provided what I would call highly worthwhile pre-meal theatrics (think open-top popcorn popper meets a BB gun).

  2. Wow, this was really excellent... bound to be a new favorite around here. served it on the side with asparagus drizzled w/ sesame oil and soy sauce, roasted 425 for 20min, and with salmon in 1" cubes and wok fried in oil and a little soy sauce, all in a rice bowl. delicious!