When I travel to Vancouver, one of the hardest decisions is deciding where to eat. It’s a city that’s blessed with tons of great restaurants, and given that the festival I’m working on has a culinary component, I feel it’s my duty to sample some great food and wine while I’m there. It’s almost painful to fall in love with places like Cru and Go Fish knowing that they’re 3,000 km away and it will be several months before I get to eat there again. Long distance relationships are so hard…
My personal favourite is Vij’s / Rangoli. Vij’s is great if I’m traveling with someone and we want to spend a bit more time and money on dinner, but for times when I’m by myself and I’m looking for something a little more casual, I opt for the comfortable simplicity of Rangoli. I wish Ottawa would embrace the Indian fusion craze, but so far I haven’t found anything that approaches Vij’s skillful combinations of flavours and textures. I’m hoping Vikram Vij will come to the festival and bring some of the lamb popsicles with him to share.
There’s a great Vij’s cookbook that I would highly recommend for the foodie on your Christmas list. I’ve made the following dish a few times in recent months, which is the easiest recipe in the book, and it’s turned out pretty well every time. It makes quite a few servings, and I think it tastes just as good the next day.
GREEN ONION AND COCONUT CHICKPEA CURRY
½ cup canola oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped [I usually use four tomatoes]
1½ tsp salt [I find this too much – I use just a ½ tsp to start and then adjust]
5 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
4 tbsp finely chopped jalapeno chilies [I use 3 small jalapeno chilies]
3 cans (19 oz/540mL) chickpeas, drained
1 cup coconut milk
8 green onions, green parts only, sliced (about 7 oz/225g)
1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan for 1 minute.
2. Add cumin seeds and let sizzle about 30 seconds.
3. Add onion and saute 8 to 10 minutes until browned.
4. Stir in tomatoes, salt, ginger and jalapenos.
5. Saute 5 to 8 minutes or until oil glistens on top.
6. Add chickpeas and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 5 to 8 minutes.
7. Add green onions and cook 1 minute longer.