Literary Cooking: Chickpea-Tomato Curry

So you may remember the chickpea-tomato stew that everyone loves in Robin McKinley’s SHADOWS, right?

By pure coincidence, I made something probably very similar on Saturday, because I was very involved with my current ms revision and wanted to make something tasty but very, very fast and effortless. It occurred to me later that this just has to be close to the dish mentioned in McKinley’s new book.

So, if you would like to try this dish — or if you are about to read SHADOWS and would like to cook appropriately — or if you are very busy and want to make something fast, easy, and foolproof — here you go!

Also, just as a side note, McKinley also serves brownies to her characters, so you should probably lay in a supply of those as well.

Chickpea-Tomato Curry

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp minced ginger, and let me just add that the best way to hold fresh ginger is to peel it, slice it, put it in a jar, and cover it with vodka or rice wine or whatever you like along those lines. Store the jar in the fridge and use the ginger as you need it.

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp curry powder, any variety
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas or garbanzos
1 can crushed or diced tomatoes


Rice, preferably basmati

1/2 lb pork sausage, to be browned along with the onion

2 oz fresh spinach, either to add to the curry at the last minute or to serve in wraps with —

4 flour tortillas, warmed

Also Optional:

A raita made by combining 1 C plain yogurt with 1/2 C drained pineapple bits plus salt and cumin to taste.

Okay, now, I hope the optional stuff isn’t too confusing. Here’s the actual recipe:

[If you want to serve this with rice, start the rice first and then go sit down for ten minutes and read a few pages of SHADOWS because the rice will take significantly longer to cook than the curry.]

Combine all the dry spices in a small dish and set aside.

Brown the onion in the oil for five minutes. [If using sausage, brown it, too.] Add the ginger, garlic, and spices and stir one minute. Stir in the chickpeas and tomatoes and simmer five minutes, until slightly thickened. [If you want to add spinach to cook in the curry, add it now and cook a couple of minutes longer, until wilted.]

Okay, all done! Either eat plain like stew, serve over rice, or fold into tortillas along with fresh raw spinach. Any way you serve it, a dab of raita can go with it, but is not necessary.

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7 thoughts on “Literary Cooking: Chickpea-Tomato Curry”

  1. Californians will be more likely to find ‘garbanzo beans’ than chickpeas, but they’re the same thing.

    I may try it with black (wu-gu) chicken for my lunches. I usually make soup, but I’m getting tired of it.

  2. Sounds yummy. Nit: SHADOW chickpea stew is vegan, and it actually is a very minor plot point! (SPOILER: Takahiro is a Very Hungry Werewolf at the time.)

    I am making Sopa de Lima (Yucatan chicken lime soup) tomorrow. It’s one of my favorites, especially with some citrus leaves added. Here’s an authentic recipe:
    but the inauthentic recipes are good, and a lot easier. Cilantro and avocado are both common (authentic, tasty) garnishes.

  3. Thanks for the link! Not only does that sound good, but I happen to have a lime I need to use — and I do have lime leaves in the freezer, too. Plus, I should make something with cilantro quick before frost. And I”m always happy to add avocado to almost anything!

    And yes, but *I* am not vegan and don’t feel compelled to worry about it!

  4. This sounds good–I’ll save it to try sometime. As a long-time reader of McKinley’s blog, it was very fun to come across the mention of chicken & cream in SHADOWS–which I assume HAS to be this recipe. (I keep meaning to make it, but we never seem to have all the ingredients at the same time!)

  5. I certainly have no shortage of apples at the moment, so this would be the time to try this recipe!

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