By Van Potts
This is a fabulous dish that pairs well with a number of Preston-Layne wines. It’s simple, inexpensive and can be changed up to suit your tastes. It also can be made vegan or plant-based to accommodate your diet. It will require a number of spices that are unique for this style. Hing (or Asafoetida) is optional as it’s not the simplest spice to find, but I do recommend using it as the flavor is unique. Most Asian markets will carry it, and you can also find it on Amazon.com.
2 cups Chana (Chick peas)
2 large leeks, sliced very thin
2 cups (or more, depending on taste) of fresh spinach, 1 box frozen
3 to 5 large cloves of garlic (or more!)
15g to 20g of turmeric root or 1 ½ tsp of turmeric powder
10g to 15g of ginger root
1 tsp of cumin seed
½ tsp black mustard seed
1 ½ tsp madras curry powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp cayenne, Thai chili powder or red pepper powder (more if you like spicy, less if you don’t)
½ tsp coriander powder
Pinch (1/8 tsp) Hing (Asafoetida)
2 to 3 Tbsp oil (prefer coconut or Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1 ½ cup of water or liquid from cooking the chick peas or vegetable broth (can use chicken broth is vegan isn’t important to you)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chopped Cilantro served on top
Optional: thinly sliced, fresh, not cooked red onion or chives
For prep: If you start with dried chana (chick peas), soak overnight, cook and reserve the liquid.
Run the turmeric root, ginger and garlic through a micro plane and set aside in a ramekin. Measure out all the other spices into ramekins. Make sure the spinach and leeks are clean. Slice the leeks very thin.
In a separate pan, turn the heat on medium and toast the cumin and mustard seeds. DO NOT use oil when toasting. As soon as you smell the cumin seeds, turn the heat off. In a medium-large fry pan or sauce pan with the heat off, add the dry spices, the cumin and mustard seeds, the garlic, turmeric and ginger you ran through the micro plane and the oil for cooking along with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat on medium to medium low and start to “fry” the mixture, getting everything coated in oil. You can have a little water nearby or more oil if it starts to “catch” on the bottom of the pan. Once you start to smell the spices, add the leeks and coat well in the mixture. Once coated, add the chana (chick peas) and their water, stirring the mixture and bringing back to a gentle simmer. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover the chana and then add the spinach, turning in until the spinach is wilting. Once the spinach is turned into the dish, it’s complete. Serve with a light and fluffy basmati rice.
Wine Pairing Suggestions:
This is a dish I believe works really well with white wine. But I also believe there are some reds that will nicely pair with the dish.
My top pairings would be Foris Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris or Gewurztraminer. Cave de Turckheim Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris would also be in my top choices,. If you are in the mood for Rosé, Château Clamens Rosé would be perfect. As for red wine, how can you go wrong with Zinfandel? Trentadue La Storia, Keenan and Barlow Zins would be delicious. And for an outside play, try Miro Cuvée Sasha. And of course… Champagne works with everything! Champagnes Jacquart and Montaudon are ALWAYS a great choice!
Bigger fruit, maybe a touch of sweetness and low tannins are the correct call because of the cumin. Enjoy!