Monday, May 04, 2015

Fennel Garbanzo Beans/ Chickpeas 茴香鹰嘴豆

Fennel is profoundly hard to describe when it comes to its taste. The seeds, bulbs, and fronds - each is unique and therefore depending on how you use and cook it, the flavors can be often complex, layered, nuanced.

Razor-thin fennel bulb used raw in salads lends anise flavors and sharpness; while larger slices of the bulb cooked slowly in a braise or stew - with time mellowing the licorice flavors as it melds down with sweetness in the stew - rounding and balancing a savory dish superbly well. Fennel can be indeed versatile if you know how to use it e.g. using it in a meat braise or stew to cut though richness; or roasting with fish or in a seafood bouillabaisse-like dish to balance the brininess.

However, fennel bulb is quite under-utilized in my kitchen, up till now. Most often, "fennel" has appeared only when fennel seeds are called for in Indian-style dishes. Well, that is another "part" of the fennel plant. Today I will use the fennel bulb (not the seeds) in a vegetarian dish, not specific to any cuisine, but more so to quickly cook a side-dish that makes use of whatever there is in the kitchen a.k.a home-style cooking, home-style cuisine.

Fennel Chickpea (Garbanzo Beans) Curry 茴香鹰嘴豆
Pinch of ground cumin, corainder, cayeene pepper, turmeric, black pepper
2tsp curry powder
1 small onion diced, or about 1 cup finely diced onion
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 fennel, roughly sliced
1 chayote, peeled, seed removed, then chop to bite-size pieces similar (or slightly larger) to chickpea size
1 12-15oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained away soaking liquid, then rinse a few times to remove "soapy" scum that usually comes in canned beans
3-5 mini sweet peppers or 1/2 small-medium bell pepper, finely sliced or diced
Sea salt to taste

Directions: Temper the spices in hot oil, then add in onions, garlic and mix thoroughly. Add in fennel, chayote, and fry for 2-3 minutes, splash of water to moisten, then cover pot to simmer for about 3-5 minutes. Add in chickpeas, bell peppers, give it a good stir then add more water and allow the mixture to simmer at medium-heat for 3 minutes then at low-heat for about 5 minutes or more for all the flavors to develop and combine. Salt to taste.

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