One reason why I love experimenting with different cuisines is that they offer opportunity to explore new ingredients. Sometimes, it’s a familiar ingredient yet somehow new. Say what?
As I indicated in my last post, it’s Spice Season, specifically, warm spice season. When I think about warm spices, Indian cuisine almost instantly pops into my mind. So… in putting together a menu for an Indian dinner, I stumbled on a recipe for a Bengal Gram and Bottle Gourd Curry. Well… those are two ingredients that I’m not familiar with, so my attraction to the recipe was immediate.
The Bengal Gram was very confusing. Consulting both the recipe and my world wide oracle, my confusion continued. The recipe proved most confusing because, in just a matter of a few words, it used the terms bengal gram and lentils interchangeably. (UGH… don’t get me started on how much I hate confusing recipes.) Finding the answer on my oracle proved to be equally confusing and quite a quest 🙁 Though, I persevered, and found an obscure reference to Kala Chana, black chickpeas, and bengal gram all in the same sentence.
In ‘trust but verify mode’, I set out for the Indian Market.
No one had heard of bengal gram, but they kindly pointed me in the direction of kala chana which is black chickpeas. Success…
After a soak and short simmer, I find the black chickpeas to be smaller, more tender and nuttier in flavor then the garbanzo bean/chickpeas with which I’m familiar.
If I can find a bottle gourd, I’ll make the recipe as written. Otherwise, I’ll use the cute little butternut squashes that I have growing in my garden.
What new, old thing will you find to try?
P.S. I read that bottle gourds are highly nutritious and have purpose in Ayurveda for their bitter, astringent qualities.