Showing posts with label chana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chana. Show all posts

Dec 12, 2016

Sindhi Style Chole (Curried Chickpeas)

Sindh is a province in Pakistan and chole means chickpeas or garbanzo beans. In this hearty vegan recipe chickpeas are cooked until tender in a richly spiced and savory gravy. Spicy but not hot- this dish gets it’s flavors from aromatic spices such as cumin, cloves, black pepper, and brown cardamoms. Serve over toasted bread in the traditional Sindhi manner or with rice and rotis for a delicious vegetarian meal.


This is my absolute favorite recipe for chickpeas. I’ve seen this recipe all over the internet unattributed for many years now. It’s a bit different than other chickpea curry recipes in that the whole spices (brown cardamoms, cloves, cassia leaves, black peppercorns, and cumin seeds) are boiled with the chickpeas rather than fried with the gravy. This allows the mellowed warmth of the spices permeate the dish. If you love spices but not the fiery heat of chilis then this is the dish for you. On a recent trip through Delhi I picked up Camellia Panjabi’s much lauded cookbook, 50 Greatest Curries of India. Lo and behold, this recipe was right in the middle of the book!


This cookbook definitely deserves all the praise it’s gotten since it’s original printing in 2006. Please note the glowing endorsement of one of my favorite television chefs, Nigel Slater, in the lower right corner of the cover. As Mr Slater states, this book will delight, educate and inspire anyone who longs to make authentic curries at home. It is certainly a great book for beginners with brief and concise overviews on common Indian cooking techniques and ingredients utilized. The recipes could have been a bit better written (sometimes things on the ingredient list get left out in the instructions), but overall it’s a wonderful collection of authentic recipes from families all over India. (And one from Pakistan?) So with a bit of Bibi-fication here’s my adaptation of Camellia Panjabi’s recipe for "Chickpea Curry from Sindh." According to Ms Panjabi the Sindhi eat this dish over slices of bread for a delightful twist on classic ‘beans on toast.’ Sounds great to me! Like the Punjabis the Sindhi love a bit of a sour tang in their chickpeas from mango powder/amchur. The Kashmiri contingency in my household does not care for the sweetness of mango powder/amchur so I’ve substituted a zingy pinch of dry ginger powder/saunth for it with excellent results. So, whether you enjoy these chickpeas over toast, alone as a soup, or with steamed rice and rotis - you’re in for a delicious vegetarian treat!

Ingredients:
1&1/2 C dried chickpeas/chole, rinsed and soaked for at least 3 hours, (or two 14oz cans of chickpeas, drained)
1 onion, diced finely
3 black cardamoms/kali elaichi, bruised in mortar and pestle
7 cloves/laung
2 cassia leaves/tej patta (or 1 tsp ground cinnamon/dalchini)
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
12 black peppercorns/kali mirch, coarsely ground
1/4 tsp asafoetida/hing (optiional)
1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi
1 tsp salt
4 C water
For masala gravy:
3 TBS cooking oil or ghee
2 onions, diced finely
1 TBS garlic/lahsun
1 TBS ginger/adrak
1 C tomatoes, diced finely or pureed
1 tsp garam masala
2 tsp coriander/dhania
1/2 tsp dry ginger/saunth or mango powder 

Here's what to do:
1) In a pressure cooker or a large heavy bottomed stock pot combine soaked or canned chickpeas with 4 cups water, one diced onion, black cardamoms, cloves, cassia leaves or ground cinnamon, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, hing (if using), turmeric, and one teaspoonful salt. If using soaked chickpeas steam in a pressure cooker for 5-6 whistles or bring mixture to a boil in stock pot for 50 minutes. If using canned chickpeas bring mixture to a simmer in stock pot for 20 minutes or if using pressure cooker steam for 3 whistles. 

2) While chickpeas are cooking we'll make the masala gravy.  Heat 3 tablespoons cooking oil or ghee in a kadhai or medium skillet. Fry 2 diced onions until just beginning to brown in pan.

 

3) Add ginger and garlic pastes to fried onions and cook for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Add diced or pureed tomatoes, garam masala, and ground coriander to fried onion mixture. Fry for 5 minutes or until the oil separates from the mixture. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 C water, stir well and reduce heat. Set masala gravy aside until chickpeas are done.


4) When chickpeas have been cooked until just tender add the fried masala gravy and dry ginger/saunth or mango powder/amchur to them, stir well, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. While the mixture simmers use a wooden spoon to mash a few of the chickpeas against the side of the pot for a gravy thicker if desired.


5) When liquid has reduced to a thick gravy and chickpeas are completely tender your dish is done. Salt to taste and garnish with chopped cilantro and/or chopped fresh chilis if desired. Serve over toast or with rice, rotis, and a few chutneys for a hearty meal.


Helpful hints:
Canned chickpeas tend to be underdone. The extra simmering as in this recipe renders them soft and deliciously.

Nov 16, 2016

Lucknowi Chana Dal (Yellow Split Peas with Caramelized Onions)

Lucknowi Chana Dal (Yellow Split Peas with Caramelized Onions) recipe soup easy indian vegan vegetarian

Lucknow is a city in northern India steeped in the royal traditions of the Mughals. Chana dal is Hindi for split yellow peas. In this recipe the richness of caramelized onions gives humble yellow split peas a regal air in true Mughal tradition. A touch of cumin and green chili is just the right amount of spice in this velvety version of split pea soup. A surprisingly easy dish that can also be made vegan. Pairs perfectly with rice and chapattis or simply served as a hearty soup on a chilly Fall or Winter's day.


This recipe is adapted from one of my most recent cookbook acquisitions, Betty Indian Home Cooking by Raghavan Iyer. I think it's hilarious that good old American Betty Crocker did an Indian cookbook. I know Betty Crocker did some rather Americanized Mexican and Chinese cookbooks, but I had no idea there was an Indian one. Those of you who collect Indian cookbooks will probably recognize the author, Raghavan Iyer. Mr Iyer is the author of the much lauded cookbooks 660 Curries and Indian Cooking Unfolded: A Master Class in Indian Cooking, with 100 Easy Recipes Using 10 Ingredients or Less. He does do a good job of presenting recipes from all over India in this beginners' tome. The photos are nice and the book is very well made with high quality paper and binding we've come to expect from Betty Crocker.

Lucknowi Chana Dal (Yellow Split Peas with Caramelized Onions) recipe soup easy indian vegan vegetarian

This is the best recipe in the entire book. This recipe is so easy and the best split pea soup I've ever had. Even my anti-veg mutton-a-holic brother-in-law loves this dal! I initially had my doubts about this recipe as it had only four ingredients - but this has truly become a family favorite! I did make some adjustments to the recipe though. The original recipe called for caramelizing six onions in two tablespoons of ghee or oil and one cup of yellow split peas. Frying six medium sized onions in two tablespoons of any fat is wishful thinking. Even with a non stick or Teflon pan you're going to end up with a burnt mess. (This book was written in 2001 when America was still in it's fat-phobic frenzy so I'm sure Mr Iyer was told to keep oils to a minimum.) Plus that is A LOT of onions! Mughal and Muslim recipes tend to be a bit onion heavy but that's bordering ridiculous. So I decreased the onions, upped the quantity of yellow split peas to one and a half cups, and increased the cooking oil to three tablespoons. The result was perfection! I use a mixture of ghee or butter and cooking oil because I find that ghee or butter alone can get a scorched taste when frying onions this long. You could certainly skip the ghee or butter and use three tablespoons of cooking oil to make this dish vegan. The key to this dish is getting the onions properly caramelized. If you're in a western country that doesn't have the pinkish Indian onions just use the commonly available yellow onions for the same flavor. There is a little trick I've learned to speed the caramelization of the onions if you're the impatient type like me, I'll put that at the bottom of the page under Helpful Hints if you're interested. Otherwise simply slice the onions as evenly as you can and fry them over medium heat with a watchful eye. Then mix the caramelized onion mixture and cooked peas together to simmer for a bit and enjoy!

Ingredients:
1&1/2 C yellow split peas/chana dal
6 C water
1/4 tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt
2 TBS cooking oil
1 TBS ghee or butter (just use cooking oil to make this recipe vegan)
1 C onions, thinly sliced into half moons
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
2-3 green chilis, chopped finely (use less or omit for less heat)
chopped cilantro, chopped red chilis, sliced red onions (optional for garnish)

Here's what to do:
1) In a 5 quart pressure cooker or deep stock pot combine yellow split peas, 6 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric. Allow steam for 4-5 whistles if using pressure cooker. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer partially covered for 30 to 45 minutes if using stock pot. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 C water, stir well, and reduce heat.


2) While peas are cooking heat cooking oil and ghee in a deep heavy bottomed skillet or kadhai. Fry onions for about 10 minutes or until a golden brown. Add cumin seeds and chopped green chilis to fried onions mixture, stir well and fry for 2-3 minutes. Remove skillet or kadhai from heat immediately. You want your onions caramelized not burnt, err on the side of underdone than over done. Burnt onions are bitter and will ruin the dish.


3) Stir the fried onion mixture into cooked peas. Partially cover and allow to simmer for 10 minutes to blend flavors. The fried onions will float upon the surface of the boiled peas at first. Then after about ten minutes they meld together.


4) Allow mixture to keep simmering until peas are to desired tenderness. You can leave the peas slightly firm and holding their shape or cook them down to velvety smoothness. It's all about what you like! Add a bit of water, reduce heat, and stir well until dal is to desired consistency. Salt to taste, garnish if desired, and serve hot with rice, rotis, or as a soup with buttered bread. 


Helpful Hints:
A little trick I learned on one of these food and science websites to speed up the caramelization of onions is to add a little baking soda while frying. You want to wait until the onions just start to turn brown at the edges, then add about 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per cup of onions being fried. Raising the pH to a slightly alkaline level will cause the onions to caramelize faster so watch them carefully. The slightly alkaline pH will also cause the onions' cells to lyse so you'll end up with a sort of paste. A paste of caramelized onions is fine for this dish as we're going to simmer them in with the boiled peas until they disentegrate anyway. Now, if you're trying to make the onions that are fried to a delicate crisp called birista - DO NOT use baking soda. 

If you're in a western country where the pinkish Indian style onions I've shown in the above picture aren't available then use the more commonly found yellow onions. Do not use red or purple onions as they are too sugary and will scorch rather than caramelize.

Lucknowi Chana Dal (Yellow Split Peas with Caramelized Onions) recipe soup easy indian vegan vegetarian

Sep 26, 2016

Chikar Chole (Curried Chickpeas)

Chikar Chole Curried Chickpeas chana, chickpeas, gabanzo, beans, lahore, punjabi, easy, recipe, dal, legumes, spicy, curry,

From the city of Lahore comes this classic dish. Chikar means mud and chole means chickpeas. The unique name of this recipe describes the chickpeas submerged in the rich golden gravy like pebbles in mud. Traditionally, this dish is served for breakfast with fried breads like bhatura and puri. But this dish is so hearty it's perfect for an Autumn lunch or simple supper served with rice, any type of roti, or just a loaf of crusty French bread. 


Interestingly, this dish does not get it's yellow color from turmeric as many Desi dishes do. The chickpeas are simmered with aromatic spices until so tender they crumble giving the gravy it's distinctive golden color. This dish packs a lot of spicy flavor but not much heat. A little yogurt, dry ginger, and an optional squeeze of lime/nimbu do give it a bit of a zesty tang though!

Ingredients:
1&1/2 C dried chickpeas/chole (or two 15 ounce cans of chickpeas)
3 TBS cooking oil
1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
1 tsp ajwain seeds/carom
7 black peppercorns/kali mirch, coarsely ground
1 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
3 cloves/laung
3 green cardamoms/elaichi, bruised with mortar and pestle
2 cassia leaves/tej patta
2 inch piece of cassia bark/dalchini (or cinnamon stick)
Lime/Nimbu wedges and cilantro for garnish
Grind until smooth paste or chop finely for base:
3 onions, chopped roughly
2 TBS garlic/lahsun paste
1 TBS ginger/adrak paste
Grind until smooth paste for masala:
1/2 C tomatoes, chopped
1/4 C yogurt/dahi
1 TBS cumin/jeera, ground
2 tsp coriander/dhania, ground
1 tsp fennel/saunf, ground
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1 tsp paprika plus 1 tsp cayenne powder)
1/2 tsp dry ginger/soonth

Here's what to do:
1) Soak chickpeas for at least 2 hours up to overnight in 6 cups water with 1 teaspoonful of salt. If using canned chickpeas skip to step 2. If using pressure cooker add enough water to cover the chickpeas by 2 inches plus 1 tsp salt. Seal pressure cooker and allow to steam for 30 minutes or until chickpeas are tender. If using stockpot on stove add enough water to cover chickpeas by 3 inches and 1 tsp salt, boil until tender adding water as needed.


2) Grind onions, garlic, and ginger to smooth paste or chop finely and mix together. Set aside. Grind all ingredients listed for masala to smooth paste and set aside. In a deep, heavy bottom skillet or kadhai heat oil. Fry onion mixture with 1 tsp salt until just beginning to brown. Stir frequently. This should take about 7-8 minutes. Add cumin seeds, ajwain seeds, black peppercorns, fenugreek seeds, cloves, green cardamoms, cassia bark, and cassia leaves and fry for 2 minutes.


3) Add ground masala mixture to fried onion mixture in pan. Stir well and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. If mixture begins to stick or scorch add 1/4 cup water, stir well, and reduce heat.


4) Add fried spice mixture to the cooked chickpeas and stir well. If using canned chickpeas you may need to add 2 to 3 cups of water. Canned chickpeas are a bit underdone for this dish so you may have to simmer them for 5 to 10 minutes longer to get them to the proper tenderness.


5) Allow mixture to simmer uncovered for at least 15 minutes. Mash a few of the chickpeas against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon or you can use an immersion blender for a few seconds in the mixture. The chickpeas need to be cooked until so tender they start to crumble making the sauce thick and "muddy." Salt to taste and serve sprinkled with chopped cilantro and garnished with lime wedges.


Feb 8, 2016

Ingredient of the Week: What's The Deal With Dal?

Dal is any type of split or hulled lentil, pea, or beanThe word "dal" derives from the Sanskrit root "dhal" meaning "to split." It is a staple food across South Asia and most often cooked into a variety of regional soups and stews. Dal is usually served with rice and wheat flatbreads such as roti or chapatti. In combination with rice and or wheat, dal provides the essential amino acids to form a complete protein. "Dal Bhat" (literally translated from Hindi, Urdu and Nepali means "dal and rice") is a daily meal for most people in Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan. Dal is a healthy and affordable source of vegetarian protein as well as a good source of B vitamins, iron and zinc.


The famous dishes of the Subcontinent made with dal are many and varied- There's sambar, vada, ven pongal, and pappu in South India. Oriya and bori dried dumplings in East India. Dhansak, dal makhani, and dal paratha in North India. Mussyang is a popular Nepali dish made from several dals of different colors. Even sweets such as burfi and laddoos are made of certain dals.


The most common way to prepare dal- Simply boil it with a pinch of turmeric and perhaps some onion, garlic, asafoetida/hing, tomatoes, tamarind, or even green mango depending on regional and individual tastes. After the dal is cooked a fried garnish called a "tadka/tarka" or "chaunk" is often added. The chaunk or tadka/tarka is usually raw spices along with garlic, ginger and or onion which are tempered by frying and then poured over the dal. (In case you are interested "chaunk" is pronounced "tsonk" with heavy aspiration on the "ts.")

Common varieties of dal-


Masoor dal - hulled red lentils

Mmm...these are my favorite!
They cook down to a velvety soup.


Mattar dal - split yellow peas

Yep, they're split peas!


Urad dal- black or green mung beans, hulled or split

Split unhulled "urad dal" or mung beans
Hulled "urad dal"


Toor, toovar, or arhar dal- split pigeon peas

Sort of like split peas but with more of a nutty flavor.

Rajma- any sort of red bean from kidney beans to pinto beans

Kidney beans are "rajma"
Pinto beans are "rajma" too


Chana or Chole- Varieties of chickpeas from "kala chana" or "chhola boot" to "Kabuli chana." Chana dal can also be ground to a fine flour called "besan." Besan or gram flour is used in many things from sweets like laddoos and barfi to pakora batters. These South Asian varieties of chickpeas or gabanzo beans are a bit smaller than those seen most often in western countries. Very similar in flavor and texture though.

Dark colored "kala chana"  or "chhola boot"
Light colored "Kabuli chana"or chole
This is ground chickpea flour, also called "besan," "baeshun," or "gram flour." Besan is great for thickening soups & gravies, making crispy pakoras, laddoos, barfi, bhajis, frittters, noodles called "sev," chela, puda, you can even make cookies with it. It's gluten free and has 20 grams of protein per cup.


And that concludes my dissertation on dal for today!

Keep calm and curry on.

Our Daily Dal (Mixed Lentils)

masoor toor dal split peas recipe

Dal is the comfort food of South Asia. Mixed hulled or split lentils and peas of all sorts are cooked to a soup like consistency and served with steaming white rice, pickles/acchaari, a fresh chutney/chatni, a serving of sabzi/vegetables, and perhaps some roti or pappadums. Dal is a healthy, affordable, protein and fiber rich staple of South Asian cuisines. This is our usual recipe, it's super simple and very tasty.

Ingredients:
2 TBS ghee or cooking oil
1/2 C onion, diced finely
2 green chilis, chopped
1 tomato, finely diced
2 tsp garlic/lahsun paste
1/4 tsp turmeric/haldi
1 tsp Kashmiri mirch (or 1/2tsp paprika + 1/2tsp cayenne)
1 C masoor dal/red lentils
1/2 C chana dal/split yellow peas
1/2 C moong dal/hulled green gram
2 tsp salt

Here's what to do:
1) In a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat ghee or cooking oil. Fry diced onion until translucent.

2) Add tomatoes, green chilis, garlic paste, and salt while continuing to fry for 3 more minutes or until tomatoes are softened. Stir in Kashmiri mirch and turmeric powder, fry for 2 minutes.


3) Add dals to frying mixture plus 8 C water. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce to medium heat and allow to simmer uncovered for 40 to 45 minutes. Stir about every 10 minutes to make sure no dal sticks to the bottom of the pan. Add more water if necessary.
Looks a little watery at this stage.
4) If dal is to desired thickness, salt to taste and your dal is ready. If you wish your dal to be thinner, add more water. If you wish your dal to be thicker continue cooking until liquid evaporates to desired consistency. The mattar dal/split yellow peas are supposed to remain a bit chewy while the masoor dal/red lentils and moong dal/hulled green gram turn velvety smooth.
The dal is done!
Helpful Hints:
Here in South Asia we have to rinse dals thoroughly and look for insects, pebbles, twigs, or stems. I learned this the HARD way (pun intended). Please use your discretion as to whether your dal needs cleaning.

I would not recommend cooking this type of dal in a pressure cooker. Tiny particles of masoor dal can clog the steam vent leading to a possible explosion. I've never heard of this actually happening but that's what it said in the booklet that came with my pressure cooker.


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