Garbanzos, or chickpeas, are an integral part of Nuyorican cuisine. It goes back to the island of Puerto Rico where garbanzos were popular in such dishes as. Garbanzos Guisados (stewed chickpeas), Garbanzos con Chorizo (chickpeas with sausage) and Garbanzos con Arroz (chickpeas with rice). Curried garbanzos was  not something we did in Spanish Harlem; unlike in Jamaica, where curried dishes became popular due to their influx of Indian immigrants. This was not the norm in our repertoire. I myself began using curry in my early manhood long after I have migrated from 110th street in Manhattan. Since then I’ve become a fan of curry . Thus Garbanzos con Curry, or curried chickpeas.

This is a dish that goes well with any grain, be it rice, couscous or quinoa. You can even serve it over pasta, as we did here with orzo. You could say it’s our version of pasta fazool, the pasta and beans dish so popular in Italian cuisine—except that we add curry to this one.

For the curry sauce I use a basic white sauce to which I add curry powder. It’s quick and easy. Some curry sauces include such things as coconut milk or cream, tomatoes, ginger and yogurt. I keep it simple. Remember, this is a Nuyorican curry sauce.

Now comes the required caveat. For my bean dishes, I use dry beans you can find in any supermarket. Why? It renders a better texture and flavor than the canned product.  If you want to user canned beans, go right ahead. But I find the bother of preparing dry beans is well worth the effort. They come in a one pound package. All you do is rinse them in running water, place them in a pot or pan  with cool water to cover for at least 2 inches; let them soak overnight, drain the next day, place in a Dutch oven or heavy kettle with 8 cups water; cover and boil over moderate-low heat until the beans are almost tender (about 1 hour). Then proceed with recipe as given.  I can understand why, in today’s environment, most people would forego this procedure. And I won’t fault you for it. But if, like me, you’re a purist, then what can I say? Either way, you’ll still have a great dish.

Curried Garbanzos

2 cups dry beans soaked overnight or 2 (15.5 oz.) cans garbanzo beans (do not drain)
4 tablespoon butter
½ cup flour
3 tablespoons milk or cream
1 teaspoon curry powder (or more to taste)
1 small onion, peeled and slice thinly

  1. In a large saucepan or skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir constantly with a wooden spoon in a circular motion for even cooking. It will begin to thicken and bubbler after 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add milk or cream, whisking until sauce is smooth. Note that you can add more or less liquid depending on how thick you want the sauce.
  3.  Stir in the curry powder. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add onion and beans. Cook, mixing so that chickpeas are glazed with the sauce and heated through.
    Yield; 4 servings.