Editor’s note: This reader recipe is an online addition to our September 2017 cover story, “Recipes from the heart.”

Chana masala

From Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

A few minutes before noon a crowd of students gathers at Lutheran Campus Ministry (LCM) in Madison, Wis. The students come for our daily lunch, which is free to anyone and costs less than $1 per student per day.

We began the lunch program in January of 2015, hoping to invite new students to LCM. The lunch successfully drew in many students, growing from 30 students each day in the first semester to about 120 students daily by the end of the third semester. Friendships are formed over lunch. An international student from Singapore explained what the lunch has meant to her: “Without this lunch. I would not have met my friend, and without my friend, I would be lost. She has helped me so much. I am thankful that I met her here.”

The lunch program has also benefited LCM and the campus community in unexpected ways. In a recent survey, we found that only about one-fifth of students involved at LCM come from a Lutheran background. In fact, about 40 percent describe themselves of being of no religious affiliation. The diversity in religious perspective has broadened and benefited the conversations in our community.

The lunch also responds to the problem of food insecurity. At UW-Madison, most students do not live on campus, and the rising cost of tuition has led to financial burdens on college students. No affordable grocery store is within walking distance of campus. As a result, many students rely on inexpensive but nutrient-poor convenience foods.

The lunch, which we call “A Taste of Grace,” is an embodied gift rooted in the Lutheran notion of grace—a gift given regardless of merit and without cost. It is a living form of theology, which creates a welcoming and affirming community for students of all backgrounds, socioeconomic levels and religious affiliations.

Recipe (serves 120)
This recipe is loosely adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe for chana masala.

7 quarts (28 cups) dry chickpeas
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
40 medium onions
2 heads garlic
1/2 cup ground coriander
1/2 cup ground cumin
2 tbsp ground cayenne pepper
4 tbsp ground turmeric
3 28-oz. cans chopped tomatoes
5 quarts water
1/2 cup roasted cumin seeds
1/2 cup paprika
4 tbsp garam masala
2 tbsp salt
20 lemons, juiced
10 jalapenos, minced
1/2 cup grated fresh ginger

Put chickpeas in large pot. Cover liberally with water. Soak overnight. Boil 60 to 90 minutes, until almost done.

In another large pot, heat oil. Add onions and garlic. Sauté until browned. Turn heat to medium-low. Add coriander, cumin (ground, not whole), cayenne and turmeric. Stir for a few seconds. Add tomatoes. Cook until bubbly. Add chickpeas. Heat until simmering.

Meanwhile, roast cumin seeds in dry skillet. Add roasted cumin, paprika, garam masala and lemon juice. Cook about 30 minutes, covered. Add minced chili and ginger. Serve with rice.

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