In North West India where I grew up, chickpeas are cooked in two ways. One is the Punjabi chana masala, in which chickpeas are drenched in a spicy gravy of onion, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. The other is the classic Pindi chana (from its city of birth, Rawalpindi, now in Pakistan), which is served dry and tangy, with no gravy and a dark black color.
My own version is a hybrid of the two, with a tomato-yogurt gravy and a homemade chana masala spice mix.
Ingredients for the spice mix (makes 1 cup. Chana masala can also be bought in Indian grocery stores.) I have this recipe written down from an unknown recipe book, possibly The Indian Vegetarian by Neelam Batra.
– 3 tbsp dried pomegranate seeds
– 3 tbsp ground cumin
– 2 tbsp ground coriander
– 1 tbsp ground fenugreek seeds
– 1 tbsp ground ginger
– 1 tbsp mango powder
– 1 tbsp tamarind powder
– 1 tbsp black salt
– 2 tsp asfoetida
– 2 tsp ground black peppercorns
– 2 tsp ground carom seeds
– 1 tsp ground red chili pepper
– 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp ground cloves
Place all the spices in a small, heavy iron skillet and roast on medium heat for 3-4 minutes until brown and fragrant. Ground spices burn quickly, so be careful. Cool and store in an airtight container.
Once you have the spice mix, making a chickpea curry is easy.
– 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (or 6 cups canned)
– 1/4 cup sour yogurt
– 1/4 cup tomato puree
– 1 tbsp vegetable oil
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 tsp cumin seeds
– 1/4 tsp asfoetida
– 3-4 tbsp of the chana masala spice mix
– 1 tbsp ginger-green chili paste
– salt to taste
– Cilantro and slivered ginger for garnish
– Cook the soaked chickpeas in a pressure cooker ( twenty minutes after pressure builds up) or in a pan with 4 cups of water, and 1 tsp salt, until firm but cooked through. Canned chickpeas do not need to be cooked.
– Heat the oil in a sauce pan. Add the bay leaf, asfoetida, cumin and wait till they sizzle.
– Add the spice mix and the ginger green chili paste and stir for a few seconds.
– Add the yogurt and the tomato puree and bring it to a boil.
– Add the chickpeas with the cooking water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for ten minutes.
– Adjust seasoning. Garnish with cilantro and ginger.
– Serve with yogurt, plain rice and flatbreads.
If you like chickpeas and you like spice, you're going to LOVE chana masala. The picture of soaked chickpeas goes to Jugalbandi for Click May 2008- beans and lentils.