A couple of weeks back we visited Shah’s in Burnham on Sea and I ordered a chickpea starter described as Chot Photia. This is it in the photograph above. It was a slightly sweet, lightly spiced dish that I wanted to try at home. I’ve struggled to find a recipe and I don’t know whether it is an invented creation at Shah’s or something more traditional.
This week I’ve tried to make my own version of the dish. The essence is a fragrant and slightly sweet dish and so I thought I’d make it using spiced roast chickpeas rather than cook it all together. I used an online http://www.chowhound.com recipe with a little adaptation. To two cans of chickpeas which I dried as best I could, I added a teaspoon of cumin and chilli powder and then half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I kept back the chickpea water from the can just in case (see below). With a teaspoon of salt I added a teaspoon of sugar. I figured that the sweetness could start with the roast chickpeas. I then roasted them at 200 degrees for 25 minutes. I didn’t want them crispy but I did want the flavour to be slightly more concentrated and the texture to have a little bite.
In a pan I gently softened an onion, some chopped coriander stalks, one small chopped carrot, and a finely chopped red chilli. To add some aromatics I added some lime zest, a centimetre of finely chopped ginger and two cracked cardamom pods. The kitchen started to smell with the lovely aromas – whether they taste good is a different matter.
When I brought the two together I was quite pleased with the results. I added a handful of chopped coriander and the juice of one lime before seasoning with some agave syrup (about a tablespoon) to boost the sweetness and some more salt. Its definitely in the right zone but the flavours need to work together better. Its definitely also much more spicy than the Chot Photia I tasted but I hope that the addition of the chickpea water and a good rest before final cooking will sort it out.
I am writing this blog as I am cooking. It’s only at this point, as I add the photograph at the top of the blog, that I realise I’ve forgotten the egg. I can see it in the picture and its all come flooding back. I quickly boil two eggs which I imagine will definitely enhance the finished dish. Meanwhile I add some water to the chickpeas and slowly simmer down. It’s starting to look just about right.
In the final stages I sliced the egg and stirred in to the simmering chickpea mixture. In a last minute brainwave I served it on a bought peshwari nan as it complements the sweetness of the mix and somehow presents it a little more elegantly (I must admit in the restaurant I thought it would be served on a puri).
All in all I am pretty pleased with the end result (see below). Its definitely more spiced than the restaurant version and I think I would maybe do half a teaspoon of chilli powder or skip the fresh chilli next time around. The flavours did all come together though and it was a tasty meal which I will do again. The chickpeas are clearly more brown and the oil has a more orange colour which could possibly be to do with the roasting, some tomato purée and addition of turmeric. At the softening stage I could take it a little further to make a proper vegetable curry base to add to the chickpeas as the picture also looks a lot “softer” than mine. The flavour of mine is pretty close though and I reckon its prettier and healthier too.