Chickpeas are surely the nobility of pulses. They are cheap, can be used raw, milled into flour, tinned – and they keep their shape even after long cooking, as here. This recipe combines a tin of chickpeas with a subtle range of spices that you can make as hot or mild as you wish, depending on which kind of chilli (if any) that you use. The chick peas slumber in their bath of spices, chillies and tomatoes for three hours in a very slow oven, or you could use a slow cooker if you have one.

Serve with home-made or bought flatbreads or rice with a plain yoghourt and lemon dip.

Serves 2

2 banana shallots

Oil for frying

Knob of fresh ginger

5 garlic cloves

1 teasp yellow mustard seeds

½ teasp asafoetida

Crushed seeds from 6 cardamom pods

1 teasp ground cumin

½ teasp lime powder (optional)

Pinch chilli flakes

2 green and 1 red chilli – hot or mild as you wish

Salt to taste

10 fresh vine tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato puree

1 tin chickpeas

Slice the shallots as thinly as possible and let them sweat for a good 8 minutes in a little oil. Raise the heat a little and add the grated ginger, stirring it for another minute. Tip in the mustard seeds and wait for them to pop. Reduce the heat and add the peeled, whole garlic cloves then all the other spices and the salt. Let them fry for another 2 minutes on a low heat.

Split the chillies but leave the stems intact; scrape out the seeds.  Add the deseeded chillies to the onions and spices, cooking them for 1 minute, stirring gently.

Meanwhile skin the fresh tomatoes by pouring boiling water over them, counting to 45, then cooling them under the cold tap and slipping off the skins. Add the tomatoes with the tomato puree to the onion and spice mixture and bring it gently to the boil along with the drained chickpeas and a tablespoon or two of water if it looks a little dry.

Put the curry into a tightly sealed casserole dish, set the oven to 100 degrees c. and leave it for 3 hours.

Serve piping hot.