Channa/Chole/Chickpeas

Posted on January 29, 2014 by Viji

When my kids come running to the table screaming, “oooh….it’s channa…” the joy on their faces become the greatest delight. “Wow! Really?  I’m a mom!!” I still feel so ready to be in my mom’s kitchen on my way back from school trying to guess just from the smell, all that she had made and kept hot for me. Enjoying every single bite, I would pour out everything that happened at school that day. Beautiful memories!! And I am so thrilled to be able to create such memorable experiences in my kids’ minds too…..

Twenty years back, 5-6 of us…. a fun group of friends, who had just joined work right out of college were living in neighbouring apartments in B’lore.  One of our friends had brought his mom’s cookbook. Seeing a cookbook for the first time was a big surprise. There never was any “Googling” those days. Didn’t even have a computer at home.  We knew nothing much about cooking but had so much fun cooking and eating together. That indeed did bring us all very close to each other!

The best times were when we cooked on the open concrete terrace of our apartment building using a small portable gas stove which would invariably run out of gas in the middle of cooking. Then the rush to go… fill it up… come back and continue cooking as if nothing ever happened in between….. simple joyful life!

It was during one of those days I learned to make “channa” – a delicious nutritious dish extremely easy to make. We used to make it with vegetable pulav for dinner and have the left over with toasted bread and hot ginger chai the next morning:) It tastes wonderful with puri, battura, roti , even with dosa. It tastes even better after a day or two of being refrigerated and reheated. Freeze it for a month and it still taste delicious. Well loved by kids and adults…… our italian, american, thai and indian friends enjoy this dish the same way. At home, kids love it with puri and my husband with “plain jeera rice”.

Channa/Chole/Chickpeas

  • 2 cups of chick peas (white channa)
  • 1/2 of a big onion (if the onion is small enough you may use 1 whole)
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 1-2 green chillies (the channa masala normally will have some chilly powder in it; so if you dond’t want the channa too spicy avoid these green chillies)
  • 2 Tbsp of channa masala
  • 1 Tbsp of coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp of chat masala
  • 1 tsp of kasoori methi (dried methi leaves)
  • A few coriander leaves(cilantro)
  • 1-2 spoons of oil
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds(jeera)

Soak 2 cups of chick peas in water (white channa) for 8-10 hrs.  Pressure cook it till soft. Normally I let one whistle go and then keep it simmering for about 30 minutes. Keep a ladle of cooked channa aside to cool.

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Chop the onion or slice it thin. Peel the ginger and cut into strips or grate. Slit the chillies. Chop the tomatoes into small pieces.

Heat the oil and add the cumin seeds(jeera).  Once they splutter add the green chillies and the chopped onions.  once it is golden brown add the turmeric powder, channa masala and coriander powder and fry in low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and the ginger.  Grind the channa kept aside for cooling in a mixer and add to the tomatoes. This will help get a thick gravy.  Add the rest of the cooked channa; add water to the required consistency and salt according to taste; mix well.  Cover it and cook in low-medium heat for about 30 minutes. Add the kasoori methi, chat masala; stir well and continue cooking for another minute. Switch off the heat.

Just before serving you can add a few chopped coriander leaves(cilantro) and finely chopped onions. Serve with a few slices of lime on the side.IMG_0293

What I learned during these years of making channa – like anything else – after a few times of making it, figure out what works for everyone whom we are making it for, adjusting the amount of the masala powders, the spice and salt level or even the time needed to cook the channa, all these measurements could be way too different for different families. So don’t worry about the exact measurements.  The more (times) we make, the better it tastes!!

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