Eat Like an Alcoholic! Recipe: Chana Masala

Posted: October 21, 2010 in Eat Like an Alcoholic!
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve had a few conversations with people lately about what I might “miss” about drinking.  Hmm…  hangovers, guilt, fear, self-loathing, disappointing people, disappointing myself, losing things (like my keys, my memories, my health)… nah, I’m pretty good without those things.

Yeah, they’ll say, but what about a good (I mean REALLY good) glass of wine?  What about an expensive brandy after a fine meal over something sweet and sensuous?

Okay, yes.  I’m wistful!  I confess.  What about that celebratory sip of champagne after a job well done?  Hell, what about a cold beer after a happy afternoon of yardwork?  Sure–sounds good.  The thing is, I never needed the job well don or the afternoon of weeding to justify the drink.  And it was never just one drink, trust me.

When I am feeling a longing for these things, I do try to remind myself that I can’t drink like a “normal” person (although one might question why “normal” people want to drink in the first place).  And, I look to my higher power.

Yes, you skeptical toe-rags:  I have a Higher Power.  I’ve got THREE of them.  I’m serious, goddammit.  It’s sort of my Holy Trinity of Sobriety.  There’s Jean Kirkpatrick (St. Jean) who is my sort of  “Goddess” figure.  Anyone who can get sober reading Emerson is a deity to me.  In all earnestness, I admire her mind and her courage; if I am going to pray to anyone, I’m going to pray to a drunk with a doctorate.

There is my paternal grandmother, who led one of the most spiritually fulfilling lives I’ve ever witnessed.  She even managed to die at the precise moment we were reading her favorite Bible passage to her.  “None comes to the Father except through me,” Christ said.  I doubt I could approach St. Jean’s throne without following the lessons of my grandmother.

The final of the trinity is my maternal grandmother, who, in a very different way, lived an equally fulfilled life.  If my paternal grandmother was love and hugs and prayers and smiles, my other grandmother was food and quilts and more food.   At 10:00 a.m., just when you thought you may have begun the digestion process after a huge breakfast, my grandmother would look up from her knitting and ask laconically but firmly in her mountain accent, “Well, whudaya want fer lunch?”  She is the Eucharistic spirit of my trinity.  I call on her spirit when I have to confront the quotidian realities of my addiction–particularly its tempting facets.

And I do call on the strength of these women when I’m tempted–as I am inevitably.  Those who ask the above questions are asking me ultimately about temptation–particularly the social aspects of the temptation to drink:  the excuses these occasions offer.  Parties, celebrations, and most problematically, even the nice meal in a restaurant.  How do you consider a meal perfectly complete without the appropriately gorgeous libation, be it cabernet or saki or margaritas?  Because so many people drink in these social contexts, it can be hard to avoid.  Many alcoholics have friends who practically live to drink at dinner or on weekends or just in the evening after work.

The spirit of my grandmother says that the answer initially can be easy and delicious.  If being out in these places where one is practically expected to drink, why not bring the party back home?  Why not learn to cook something spectacular that can appeal to a number of friends, and invite them over for alcohol-free gourmet?

My grandmother would be horrified by the following recipe–nothing spicier than cinnamon ever crossed her palate and nothing more exotic than home-made spaghetti sauce found its way into her pressure cooker.  But she’d appreciate the motives.  When I say that this Chana Masala can appeal to almost anyone, I really mean it.  It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.  And hearty enough to satisfy meat eaters.  I serve it with basmati or jasmine rice and sometimes naan bread.  It’s also incredibly low in fat.  I make this in a slow cooker, but you could easily do it in an oven.  So, come on:  crack open some sparkling water, invite some friends over, get used to eating spectacularly without booze, and EAT LIKE AN ALCOHOLIC!

Chana Masala

Ingredients

3 medium onions, sliced in rings

2 tsp of cooking oil or spray

3-4  cloves garlic, minced

3 cups vegetable broth

2 tbsp. tomato paste

1 cup diced tomatoes

1/4 cup garam masala (you can make your own if you cannot find any in your local stores)

3 cans chickpeas, drained

juice from 1/2 lemon

pinches of salt, black pepper, cumin, and ginger

cilantro for garnish

Directions

Add a little oil to a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Once hot, add the onions.  Reduce the heat slowly, stirring the onions occasionally.  If they begin to dry out or burn, add water.  (This “sweating” process reduces the need for more oil).

After 10 minutes, add the garlic and spices.  Cook for another 4-6 minutes, allowing aromatics to “bloom.”

Add broth, diced tomatoes and tomato paste.  Bring to a boil.  Check mixture for flavor–add more spices and salt if necessary.

Pour the mixture into the slow cooker and stir in the chickpeas. ***

Cook on low for 6 hours.

***I think cooking this covered over low heat for 60-90 minutes on the stove-top could work as well.

Enjoy!


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Comments
  1. neftwink says:

    I have to paste and copy some of your stuff – “The thing is, I never needed the job well don or the afternoon of weeding to justify the drink. And it was never just one drink, trust me.”

    🙂 Oh, boy.

    Did you ever read my entry Games Within Games? Check it out when you have a few minutes. I found the whole experience – stupid, but I’m sure for some of the residents got something out of it. I thought my reply to the question we were supposed to answer was completely reasonable, and logical.

    ” I have a Higher Power. I’ve got THREE of them. I’m serious, goddammit. It’s sort of my Holy Trinity of Sobriety. There’s Jean Kirkpatrick (St. Jean) who is my sort of “Goddess” figure. Anyone who can get sober reading Emerson is a deity to me. In all earnestness, I admire her mind and her courage; if I am going to pray to anyone, I’m going to pray to a drunk with a doctorate.

    There is my paternal grandmother, who led one of the most spiritually fulfilling lives I’ve ever witnessed. She even managed to die at the precise moment we were reading her favorite Bible passage to her. “None comes to the Father except through me,” Christ said. I doubt I could approach St. Jean’s throne without following the lessons of my grandmother.

    The final of the trinity is my maternal grandmother, who, in a very different way, lived an equally fulfilled life…”

    I really like what you wrote there. I also have higher powers, damnit! I think we all have a guardian angel, spirit guides, and our ancestors always have our back, even if they encourage us into a difficult situation simply so we can learn from it.

    But – that’ just me.

    That you add recipies to your posts, flowing into them after talking about drinking and higher powers is simply – cool. I really like it. You transition well in your posts which makes for a great read.

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