Under normal circumstances, I try to play it cool. Sure, there’s this guy named Brandon, and I think he’s pretty dreamy and stuff, but most of the time, I try to keep my swooning behind the scenes. Few people look fondly upon public displays of affection—on the Internet or otherwise—and far be it for me, dear reader, to risk spoiling your appetite. But then this guy named Brandon came to town, and one afternoon, he bought me a quarter-pound of culatello Bordeaux
Nothing makes a girl feel prone to public gloating like a present of cured pork from a very handsome vegetarian. And should he then, over the span of ten short days, churn from her kitchen a batch of whole-wheat pita, a bowl of silky-smooth hummus, a vat of fiery hot sauce, ten crisp and custardy cannelés,¹ two lunches’ worth of green papaya salad, rocky road candy with homemade marshmallows,² a quart of milk chocolate ice cream with cocoa nibs,³ a tart and tangy cilantro chutney, a softly sweet tamarind sauce, and the finest chana masala to ever flirt with her lips, she’s bound to start dishing—about the chickpeas, at least.
Mine is certainly not the first man to make chana masala, nor does he have any sort of pedigree—ethnic or otherwise—to lend him an air of authority in Indian cookery, but he does have a palate, and a very precise one at that. I may be the more orderly of our twosome, but next to his, my palate is a proverbial bull in a china shop, rubbing clumsily against a rabble of spices. I chew and swallow, but he concentrates, teasing apart tightly woven layers of flavor. So when he starts surveying the spice rack, I set the table, sit down, and watch Flower delivery service
All too often, restaurant renditions of chana masala are a show of alchemy gone astray. They pound the tongue with a heavy hand of tomato, smother the taste buds under a slick of oil, or tumble down the throat with a thud, the unfortunate result of unbalanced seasoning. Bold but delicate, Brandon’s version stands as a testament to the fine art of tasting, tweaking, and tasting again. It begins—as many good things do—with a pot of onions on the edge of burnt. Then comes a small but spirited parade of spices, a mess of tomatoes, cilantro, cayenne, and chickpeas, and a few studious spoonfuls for the cook. With a subtle sweetness and a soft rumble of heat, these are chickpeas worthy of a public display of affection—or a post, at least property hk