Kale and chickpea curry with ricotta naan

Kale and chickpea curry

Kale and chickpea curry

I love to walk to school with Isaac: it’s one of my favorite rituals of the day. He holds my hand and lags behind slightly, and Clio lunges ahead after squirrels, cats, or even any spiraling dry leaf. Clio runs in circles around us, and Isaac sings or tells jokes. His jokes are perfect, sweet and nonsensical. He told an existential one the other day that was very clever, and it went a little something like this…Q: What did the birthday say to today? A: How do you like the present? B’dum tish! Today he told a joke, and I just didn’t “get it,” because I’m quite slow sometimes. I said, “I don’t quite understand your joke.” He said, “that’s okay, it wasn’t much of a joke.” As we approach the school, we start falling in line with his friends, and they form little shifting huddles, and then they all rush, joyously, to their doorway. Clio and I stand watching them, out in doggy exile, and when Malcolm sees us he walks over, cool and slow, and Clio falls all over herself trying to give him hugs and kisses. Miss Sandra, the crossing guard, greets everybody with good cheer, and leaves us all with a “have a good day,” and you believe that she means it, that somehow the fact that she said it might actually help you to have a good day. All around the courtyard, happy excited children fly about, glowing like fireflies. They greet their friends and hug their parents goodbye. I’ve always thought that the amount of energy and love, spoken and unspoken, that radiates from a typical drop-off at our school shines so brightly it could be seen from outer space. It must be like that for every school in the country. Drop-off was emotional this morning. The children flew happily about like they always do, but the parents and teachers – and there were more of them around than usual- were quiet and thoughtful, full of concerns, and hopes, and good wishes, forming a strong web of good will and sympathy that must spread from school to school across the country and beyond.

This was a strange weekend to be at work – so grey and dreary, the restaurant was not at all busy, and I just wanted to be home, where it was warm and bright and my family scampered through the day. I thought all day, too, about making this curry. I wanted something bright and warm and comforting and flavorful. So that’s what I made. It’s got a sauce made with cashews, golden raisins and coconut (I used just plain old sweetened flaked coconut, as it happens.) And it’s got kale, potatoes and chickpeas. It had a nice texture, soft, but not mushy, and the flavor was a little sweet, a little spicy, and balanced with lemon. And these naan!! I had some ricotta left over from a tart I made the other day, and I decided to make the naan with that instead of yogurt, as is traditional. And I added an egg and some melted butter. Maybe I should stop calling them naan, as I drift farther and farther from the original recipe! They turned out so delicious, though. Tender, flavorful, simple. I couldn’t stop eating them!! None of this was hard to make, either, it was an after-work meal, after all.

ricotta naan

ricotta naan

Here’s Ombra Mai Fu, from Handel’s Xerxes. My friend Diane suggested it yesterday, and it’s so beautiful!

1 medium-sized bunch of kale (about 4 cups, raw)
2 medium-sized potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/3 inch dice
1 can chickpeas
1 T olive oil
1 shallot – minced
1 clove garlic – minced
1 t dried basil (or a small handful fresh – added at the end)
1 t red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
1 t cardamom
1 t ginger
1/2 t fenugreek,
1/2 t turmeric
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved, or one medium-sized tomato chopped
1/2 cup roasted or toasted cashews
1/2 cup coconut (I used flaked sweetened, because I had it on hand for baking, but unsweetened would probably be preferable)
1/3 cup golden raisins soaked in 1/2 cup boiling water
1 T butter
juice of one lemon
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

Wash the kale and pull the leaves off their stems, discarding the stems, and dropping the leaves in a pot of boiling water. Boil for about ten minutes, until the kale is bright and soft. Drain, reserving the cooking water. When cool enough to handle, chop quite finely.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallot, red pepper flakes and basil, stir and cook for about a minute, then add the garlic and potatoes. Stir and cook until the potatoes start to soften and brown, about 5 mminutes. (Add a ladleful of kale-cooking water if the garlic starts to burn) Add the chickpeas and tomatoes, stir and cook for a few minutes. Then add the kale.

Meanwhile, combine the coconut, cashews and raisins in a processor or blender, including the soaking water, plus about one more cup of warm water. Process until quite smooth.

Add the spices to the curry, and then immediately add the sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are as soft as you like them – about twenty minutes should do it.

Stir in the butter and lemon juice, and season well with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Serve over basmati rice, with…


2 cups flour
1 t baking powder
1 t salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh ricotta
1 egg
3 T melted butter
1/2 cup (+/-) hot water

In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper. Make a well in the center and add the ricotta, egg, and butter. Stir to combine everything into a soft but workable dough – I added about 1/2 cup hot water. Knead for a minute or two, it should be sticky, but you should be able to handle it fairly easily.

Set the dough aside to rest for about 1/2 hour.

Break off a piece of dough about the size of a tangerine. On a well-floured counter, roll it to be about 1/4 inch thick. It doesn’t need to be uniformly round. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Warm a frying pan over medium heat, and melt a dollop of butter in it. Drop a round of flattened dough in the butter, and slide it around to absorb all the butter. Cook for a few minutes, and when it starts to develop brown spots, flip it to brown the other side. Repeat with all the dough.

If your pan starts to smoke, rinse it with cool water, dry it, and start again with a little less butter. Keep the naan warm in a warm oven or toaster as you finish all the rest.


12 thoughts on “Kale and chickpea curry with ricotta naan

  1. Very nice indeed – Kale is what we have left growing in the hoop houses here in cold ol’ Oregon (Corvallis) and we still have potatoes in storage, and I love curry *and* naan, so… Happy to find a blog to which I can return w/pleasure, so thank you. Came to this page via New Yorker (I’ve been submitting entries for the Tilley thing), by the way. My ‘toons are here, in case you feel like looking:

    • Thanks! I’m jealous that you still have kale growing. Our garden is completely finished after a few snows.

      I had a look at your cartoons – interesting! I’ll look again when I’m not so tired (long day at work!) Thanks for sharing the link.

      • Tomorrow I’m making the curry (thanks again) and today I’m making the naan – I mixed the flour, eggs, butter, S&P + baking powder, then measured out the 1/2 cup ricotta and plopped the ricotta into the above, which made the finest mushroom cloud of flour one might find in a Laurel and Hardy film featuring a bakery. Fair warning for the foolish. Onward.

      • Ha ha! We’ve been watching a lot of silent movies lately, and that sounds like something from Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin. Should have posted a warning! Sorry. Hope they turn out okay.

  2. I also came to this page via the New Yorker and so grateful I did. Your recipes sound delectable and will attempt once we’ve eaten the huge pot of ham/kale/white bean soup made from Christmas leftovers a few days past. Such a nice walk with you and your son, best wishes for the new year.

  3. Both recipes worked perfectly. The naan was to die. I had to study yr curry recipe to get it right (I do this anyway – I actually do test runs and so forth to figure out if I have everything put out such that when its time comes it [the ingredient or sauce or spice] is at hand) partially ’cause you don’t give the ingredients in the order in which they’re used. I NEED ORDER. Anyway, it was lovely, so thanks!

    • I’m glad they turned out okay! Thanks for letting me know. I’m sorry about the order of the ingredients. I’m trying to be more careful with that. I think I get confused sometimes and start with the thing you use most of, and then start going in order. I’ll try to fix this recipe, anyway!! Thanks for trying it!

  4. I wonder how to leave a message for you instead of a review…Anyway, I found your blog because of another site that recommended your method for cooking french lentils. I am not vegetarian, so I doubt I would have found your writing otherwise, and I must say that my life would have been diminished. I am old enough to be your mother I suspect (perhaps even older), and yet your writing speaks to my heart, and I am finding it hard to tear myself away from reading your blog and getting on with my day. I have forwarded some of your recipes to two vegetarian friends, and also a omnivorous relative who will appreciate what you have to say….and how well you say it! Thank you for taking the time to not only share your recipes, but also give of yourself. You have brightened my day, and given me much to ponder.

  5. We’re *still* making your ricotta naan for our afternoon sit-down in the garden, with slight variations – I add zest from 1 lemon, juice from same, use a little more flour (2 1/2C), and use oil instead of butter. In the cooking stage I flatten the naan to about 1/4 inch or less, so that it nearly fills the pan, then after it’s solidified a bit I split the naan evenly with the blade of the spatula (thus = 2 naans). I stack these on aluminum foil, to get 8 naan, enclose these in a ziploc & refrigerate. Each day I get 2 out & toast them in a toaster.
    Thanks again for getting us on this recipe!

    • That sounds really good! That sounds even better! I love to bake with lemon, but not everybody in my family likes it as much as I do. Ricotta and lemon seem like a perfect combination , though. I think I’ll try your way next time!

      I’m looking forward to sit-downs in the garden, if this snow ever melts.

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