Friday, May 18, 2007

Bollywood Cooking: Channa Masala



Legumes are a very vital part of an Indian diet. As many Indians are vegetarian, they rely on a wide range of legumes, both whole and split for their source of protein. Mixed with grains, boosted by vegetables and dairy products, and spiced to the max, they provide a wholesome, varied diet.

Indian food offers a wide range of flavors both intense and subtle and the variety in dishes available are as vast as the country itself.



Regional Indian cuisine is influenced by climate, history and religion. You will find that North Indian food is very different to South Indian cuisine. To sample this wide variety of flavors, tastes and aromas therefore, remains a challenge. Indian restaurant food hardly even skim the surface of Indian cuisine. Therefore, the best alternative you have is to cook it yourself.

That's where I hope I can help out here ;-). If you followed the previous sessions you will know that the dishes presented here are what I learned from my mum or dad. I have taken some time, chatted with them, referred to their expertise and now share the dishes with you.

The simplicity of this particular dish should not fool you. Indians have several ways to cook this particular dish. Channa (or Chole) Masala is basically chickpeas in a blend of spices and herbs. The consistency of the sauce also depends with what type of condiment you plan on serving it with. So, if you would like to have this with a roti or naan (Indian flat breads) then the sauce should be a little thicker. I was planning on having this with rice, therefore the sauce is thinner. Once again this dish come from my dad and just like the Chicken Curry, it is easy to make but guarantees full flavor.

In a previous post I covered the "Food Know How" for Chickpeas, however how many of you get confused when people refer to them as legumes?



Legumes
Legumes are classified as lentils, beans, or peas, and all of them are basically seeds from specific plants. Varieties of dal (also called dahl), often found in Indian cooking, are also legumes.

Legumes are among the most versatile and nutritious foods available. They're good sources of protein and can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has more fat and cholesterol.

In Indian cuisine, legumes are often a part of every meal of the day. The protein found in legumes is a very different protein from the protein found in meat products, cheese, eggs, and fish. The protein from legumes requires more effort to digest and people new to legumes will find it very helpful to use spices that help digestion such as asafetida, cumin seeds, fresh ginger, and black pepper. The addition of these spices to legume dishes will help to reduce any side effect such as bloating or gas that beans are often associated with.

Legumes can be prepared in three basic ways:

  • Soaked in water overnight and then cooked the next day by boiling in water. Spices can be added while cooking or lightly fried in oil and then added to the dish or clarified butter can be added after cooking. Vegetables and grains may be added while cooking to create stews. Legumes can be eaten with rice or used for dipping flat breads such as chapatis or pita bread.
  • They can be soaked for several hours and then ground into a paste with a food processor. The paste can be used to make dumplings and fritters.
  • Ground into flours to make dough for breads and for desserts and puddings.


Selecting and Storing
Choose legumes with a deep and glossy color. Dry-looking or faded legumes indicate a longer storage time. The longer legumes are stored, the more likely they won't taste fresh. Cloudy surfaces may be an indication of moldy growth.
Select a wide variety of legumes. Many supermarkets stock a wide variety of legumes. They can be both dried or canned and offer greater versatility in cooking.
Dried legumes should be stored away from heat, light and moisture. They keep well in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag.
Keep unopened canned beans, chickpeas and peas in a cool, dry place. They safely store for two to five years.

On my sidebar you will find a new section called "The Know Hows of Food". The idea behind this section is to help you easily find certain ingredients and read about the benefits and other useful information such as storing and selecting. Go on and select an ingredient .... see you now have a fantastic reference for a variety of ingredients.
Thanks Sophie for your help!! ;-)
I'd also like to thank Gilly and Claudia from the very bottom of my heart. Thanks for all your advice and help. Both were the driving force to help me understand how banner placement in different browsers and screen resolutions work. Hugs to all three of you!



Reminder!


You are all invited to my Big Birthday Bang.
Where: here!
When: June 6th
Hope to see you there!









Ingredients

400g Chickpeas - I used canned chickepeas, but you can use dried chickpeas that have been soaked overnight.
1 red onion - very finely chopped
1 large tomato - chopped
4-5 Garlic cloves - crushed to a paste
2 pieces Ginger each about an inch - 1 piece crush into a paste. Peel the other one and leave whole.
1 Green chili - finely chopped
2 Bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1 teaspoon Coriander powder
1 teaspoon Garam Masala powder
juice of 1/2 a lime
Vegetable oil for cooking
Salt
Cilantro leaves for garnishing - chopped







Method

In a wok or deep pan, heat oil and gently fry the bay leaves for approx. 20-30 seconds. Add the onions, ginger and garlic paste and fry on medium heat until the oil starts separating from the mixture. Once the mixture is golden brown add the green chili, tomatoes, red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, garam masala and salt. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes until the mixture resembles a thick paste.

Add enough water to make a gravy according to your required consistency. Place the whole ginger in the gravy and bring to a boil. Add the chickpeas and allow to simmer for approx. 15-20 minutes.

Squeeze some lime juice over the top and taste. You might prefer it a little more tangy, or as we say in Hindi "chat patta", in this case add a bit more lime juice. Serve with the chopped cilantro leaves sprinkled on top.



Verdict

Complicated? No. Quick? Certainly. Tasty? Most definitely. The ingredients in this dish are widely available in any good stocked supermarket. This is a light, healthy and low-calorie dish and can be eaten with rice or any flat bread you like. I had taken a bit out into a separate saucepan before I added the chilies for Soeren. Otherwise, it was all the same for him too. We enjoyed this quick and easy meal that was prepared without hassle. Furthermore, it is something that reminded me of home and a dish that one cannot often find on a menu in an Indian restaurant. Home cook Indian food is just more satisfying.

Hope you enjoy making this too.



I'd like to take a minute to help raise awareness for a new event created by a blogger buddy of mine. Abby of Eat The Right Stuff lives in the UK and she has created a one-off event to celebrate national vegetarian week from 21-27 May. Check out Vegetables Beautiful Vegetables.


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All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2007 Meeta Albrecht unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

21 comments :

  1. oh i can't wait for our uk foodbloggers' indian cooking "course" now... i've always thought indian food required too much effort, but hope to learn that that's not the case - just like with this recipe!

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  2. Meeta, first time commenting in urs, u have an awesome blog, love the pictures!!!Chana masala too!!!

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  3. Saving this now and I am going to try it.

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  4. Chickpeas are one of the foods I'm trying to learn more about, and the repertoire of Indian cooking offers endless variations. Thanks for sharing the recipe and the method.

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  5. wow!!!!excellent channa masala....

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  6. Meeta,

    Yummy looking channa masala, I like the naan. you should post the recipe for naan too

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  7. yummy channa masala meeta, it's funny I just made it last night for dinner :) looks delicious, as always

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  8. Great photos as usual. I am trying to get there but slowly.

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  9. Sounds really, really good, Meeta

    I like the flavors very much. :D

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  10. Hi....
    It is looking nice... Great recipe.. I love it... Lovely pictures...

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  11. That sounds and looks so pretty and delicious :)

    I bought a new book yesterday - The Bollywood Cookbook by Bulbul Mankani, I was seduced by the Indian food, colours and pretty people!

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  12. Meeta,

    Channa masala is one of my favorites!

    Kanchana

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  13. that sounds delicious meeta - i'm always keen to find new ways to cook chickpeas. and thanks for flagging up vegetables, beautiful vegetables.

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  14. Johanna, I wish I could be a part of that too. Just meeting up with fellow bloggers to cook is a huge dream.

    Aruna - welcome to WFLH! Thanks for your lovely comment.

    Kalyn - Let me know what you think.

    Sandeepa - Thanks they really were.

    Lydia - That is so true. Indian food uses legumes in such a variety that i have not seen anywhere else in the world. I hope you enjoy this dish too.

    Deepa - thanks!

    Sreelu - thanks for the comment. Maybe I will post the naan recipe soon.

    Mandira - Great minds think a like and since I've been getting to know you better I can most certainly say you have a fab mind!!

    Lata - thanks. Practice is the keyword, I keep in my mind all the time.

    Lis - I think you might just enjoy this dish!

    Sukanya - Thanks!

    Kelly-Jane - You'll love the book. I went out and bought it after the author of the book, Bulbul wrote to me about it. I just love the wonderful photography in the book and as I am a huge movie buff I love reading about all the Indian actors and actresses.

    Kanchana - Thanks!

    Abby - it is my pleasure!!

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  15. Thanks for sharing this recipe Meeta! I am a huge fan of Indian cuisine...and love chickpeas too :) Will definitely be saving this!

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  16. Gadfry, I know my list is way long but this just has to make it to my table! Look and sounds lovely!

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  17. Hi Meeta, happy I could help out a bit with the technical details! I like the tip for reducing the side effects :-)

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  18. Hello Meeta, There are some amazing recipes (& pics) on your blog. My sister-in-law is Indian and the food her family eat at home is so different to anything in an Indian restaurant. I try to learn things from them but they do everything by sight,touch and smell, they can never tell you exactly how much of everything goes in. Lots of interesting facts in this post. Thank you. Amanda

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  19. Hello Meeta, There are some amazing recipes (& pics) on your blog. My sister-in-law is Indian and the food her family eat at home is so different to anything in an Indian restaurant. I try to learn things from them but they do everything by sight,touch and smell, they can never tell you exactly how much of everything goes in. Lots of interesting facts in this post. Thank you. Amanda

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  20. Hello!
    This dish is something for me!! I so love all of these grand spices!!

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta