March 09, 2022
Mardi Gras season always reminds me of the first time I tasted gumbo at a friend’s house in Galveston shortly after I arrived in Texas.
The rich and earthy stew was reminiscent of a good curry, but I was picking up new flavors as well. The taste of roux, or toasted flour, was new to me, as were seasonings such as sassafras and dried oregano.
After many attempts, I landed on a seafood stew that had all the elements of a gumbo but used deeply flavorful chickpea flour for the roux instead of white flour. This stew quickly became a family favorite, and it can be enjoyed with rice, bread or even noodles. I replace sausage with vegetables like carrots, parsnips or turnips — and the final addition of warming spices adds a wonderful aromatic finish.
Serves 6 to 8
1/3+ cup ghee
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup caramelized onion purée (see note)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons red chili powder
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1 teaspoon ground mustard seeds
2 teaspoons salt
One 14-ounce can coconut milk
2 to 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon ground black cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pound small shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound small scallops or mussels
18 to 20 shucked oysters
8 ounces crabmeat (optional)
Fresh herb springs
In a large stockpot, over medium to low heat, warm the ghee with the chickpea flour, constantly stirring to form a roux, making sure the flour does not turn too dark or burn. A nutty aroma will emanate within 5 to 6 minutes. Lower the heat and add the caramelized onion purée and minced garlic. Continue frying the masala for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the turmeric, red chili powder, black pepper, fennel, mustard, and salt. If the mixture appears too dry, add more ghee. Within a minute or two, making sure the spices do not burn, add the coconut milk, 2 cups water and the carrots. Bring the whole mixture to a boil and let it simmer, covered for 20 to 25 minutes — this step is important as the flavor of the chickpea develops only with time. The fat should have risen to the top; if not, continue cooking for a few more minutes.
Add the cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves and then add all the seafood except the crab. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the crab and turn the heat off. Garnish with fresh herbs, carrot curls, and lemon juice.
To make caramelized onion purée, slice 2 to 3 large white or yellow onions and sauté in a few tablespoons of oil until a dark rich brown, frequently stirring. Let the onions cool for a few minutes then purée in a food processor. Store in the refrigerator for up to a month or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
To make carrot curls, peel a carrot lengthwise and place the peels in ice water for about an hour. Drain and use.
December 02, 2022