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 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!! ;-)
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You are all invited to my Big Birthday Bang.
When: June 6th
Hope to see you there!
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
Cilantro leaves for garnishing - chopped
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.
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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