The last few days I’ve been “laid up” with a back injury- nothing too serious- just a few strained muscles, and I am doing pretty well right now. But, during that time, I needed something fairly quick and easy to make as a main protein source, so I thought of making an old Jaffrey standby: chickpeas and potatoes in tomato and garlic sauce. It has no long onion-bhuno-ing step; instead, a massive amount of garlic paste is fried in oil, tomatoes are added and slowly simmered…(well, at least it’s an easier bhuno-ing that didn’t require me to stand for too long!), and then a fairly brief cooking of the sauce with the chickpeas. Instead of potatoes, I thought of using panir as I had pre-fried a home-made batch of it a day or two before my injury and tucked it away in the fridge. The rest I did in parts as I could tolerate it- but I must confess to you that I ended up reclining on the floor to peel the garlic!
Since I was a little bit in want of fun, I decided not to follow the rest of that original recipe exactly; instead, I took a cue from one of my favorite bloggers- the famous Musical and her equally famous Kitchen. Musical is always playing around with new ingredient combinations and trusting her instincts to concoct interesting mixes of spices- all the while managing to create some really delicious dishes. So I thought “why not?” and took her cooking-is-as-easy-as-breathing approach, and, amazingly, my experiment turned out! It tasted so good that I decided to share it with y’all… and especially this is for other garlic-tomato-chile combo lovers out there! (You know who you are!)
Chickpeas and Panir with Tomatoes and Garlic
2 C dried white chickpeas/ kabuli chana
3 T oil/ghee
1 t cumin seeds
pinch of hing
18-24 cloves of garlic, pasted- about 3 T
2 C tomato puree
2 t coriander seeds (dry-roasted)
1 t cumin seeds (dry-roasted)
1 t ground red chiles, or to taste
1/2 t turmeric
1 1/2 t amchoor (or lime juice to taste)
2-3 C panir cubes, lightly fried in oil and drained
2 t kasoori methi, finger-crushed
6 green chiles (I used serranos), sliced into 1/8″ rounds (de-seed if you prefer it milder)
3 C broth from the cooked beans
salt to taste
1)Rinse chickpeas well, then cover in plenty of water to soak 12 hours; drain, then add fresh water to cover by an inch or two and cook for 5 minutes at 15 lbs. in a pressure-cooker, allowing pressure to fall on its own and cool- or simmer in enough water to cover until tender. Drain, reserving 3 C of broth.
2)Dry-roast coriander seeds and 1 t of cumin seeds until medium-brown; cool, and grind to a powder.
3)Heat oil or ghee over med-low, add the remaining teaspoon of cumin seeds, fry for a few seconds, then add the hing, followed by the garlic paste; fry, stirring continuously until the raw smell disappears (keep your face away actually!)- about 2-3 minutes, until garlic is a pale brown and has lost most of its moisture.
4)Add the tomato puree, stir well and slowly fry, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently as it reduces, until the oil returns and appears at the edges.
5)Add the dry-roasted spices, turmeric, ground chiles, and amchoor; fry for about 2 minutes more.
6)Add the cooked chickpeas, panir, kasoori methi, sliced chiles, and reserved broth; mix gently, bring slowly to a simmer and allow to cook uncovered for 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally; add salt to taste. Serve with any flat-bread of choice- para(n)thas are always good. 😀 But I was feeling perky today so I made pooris; I was thrilled because they all puffed up like balloons and one of them was actually round! 🙂
Yes, I know I ought to be blogging about pecan pie, mashed potatoes, Lithuanian mushrooms and beets, Hungarian lima beans, or…uh…..mole poblano…but, after all the leftover turkey (which was subsequently made into soup and turkey salad sandwiches) and, in short, the slew of western food which has totally thrown my system out of whack, I’m back to cooking food that I crave and enjoy on a daily basis…for a bit at least, so bear with me if you’re hanging on for one of those aforementioned recipes!
I had never heard of Pindi chana until a few months ago, when a locally-owned-and-extremely-large grocery store had a sale on packs of Kitchens of India convenience food for $1.50 each. No biggie really, except each one also contained a free CD of Indian classical music- a possibility of four different ones! Wowee!!! Well, I thought it would be fun to try and get all four, and in the process I tried every dish in their line. I wasn’t terribly impressed with any of them (kind of bland), but one of them wasn’t too bad after I “doctor’d it up” with some garam masala and extra ground chiles…anyway, I eventually managed to find all four CDs (you can sleep easy now my readers), and then I made a point of doing some research on this dish called Pindi chana…
Or Rawalpindi chana…Rawalpindi is a city in the Punjabi province of present-day Pakistan, with an extremely long history of several invasions and changes in power. The city contains many fine examples of architecture- ancient Buddshist, Hindu, and impressive Moghul shrines, two lively bazaars to wander about, as well as countless restaurants, food-stalls, and street-vendors from which to sample the local fare.
And I imagine that the variation in chana recipes is endless…which is what I discovered when I went Pindi-chana-recipe-hunting. Some said that kala (black) chana should be used, others said kabuli (white)…some said that it should be made with amla (Indian gooseberries) for souring and to achieve a dark colour, some said tea bags are the thing. Some used tomatoes, some stated that tomatoes shouldn’t be used at all. And then, there is a dispute over onions: only raw to accompany the final dish, and then no…browned as part of the masala, as well as raw for a final sparkle. Oh, it just goes on and on….the only thing I know for certain is that I won’t know anything until I visit this city, which I would really like to do someday. And when I get there, I’ll be sure to try every offering of chana I see and report to you here what I find out. But, I couldn’t possibly believe that just ONE recipe is being prepared all across a city of 3 million….can you?
I decided to try a recipe which Ashwini of Food for Thought stumbled upon in a most unlikely place: the booklet that accompanied her new pressure-cooker! I chose to try it first because it was the most different from all the others that I had read. After the first whirl, I found that it also tastes absolutely different from any other chana/chole recipes I have ever tried, and I like it very much, so much so that I’ve made it four times now! That’s blog-worthy I think.
Over the course of these recipe-runs, I found myself making a few changes in method- nothing that compromises the original intention of the recipe, no- namely a way to do both a brief oil-extraction of the masala while avoiding the overcooking of the chickpeas, and waiting until the end of the cooking to add the garam masala to avoid evaporating off all of the precious (and volatile) oils of elaichi…
Pindi (Rawalpindi) Chole (Chana)
2 C dried Kabuli chana (white chickpeas)
2 heaping teaspoons of black tea, coarsely powdered*
2 badi/moti/kala elaichi
5 cloves, ground**
3 small sticks of cinnamon (I use about 3-4 inches of cinnamon- like a finger-length)
3 T ghee and/or peanut oil (the original recipe uses 8 T…use any amount you prefer)
4 green chiles
1/2″ of fresh ginger
1 T whole cumin
1 1/2 T whole anardana
1 1/2 T coriander seeds, ground
1 T amchoor
1 1/2 t black pepper, ground
salt to taste
1-2 t garam masala
1)Soak the chickpeas for 24 hours; drain, rinse once and drain again; place these, along with the tea, kala elaichi, cloves, cinnamon, and water to cover 1-2″ in a pressure-cooker; cook for 12 minutes at 15 PSI; remove from heat and allow to cool and pressure to fall (or cook in a large saucepan until tender). Drain, reserving liquid. Remove and discard kala elaichi and cinnamon.
2)Meanwhile: halve the chiles, de-seed, then quarter lengthwise; cut across into 1/8″ strips. Peel the ginger, then slice into thin rounds; stack the rounds and cut into fine shreds. Dry-roast, separately, the cumin and anardana seeds; grind and combine with the other dried spices, reserving the garam masala alone in another bowl.
3)Heat the oil to smoking, then add green chiles and ginger; stir once and add the ground spices; stir once again and add the reserved liquid from chana; keep at a slow boil, stirring frequently as it reduces and lowering heat as you go, until thick enough to coat the stirring-spoon.
4)Add the drained chickpeas and salt to taste; stir carefully over gentle heat until fully-hot. Remove from heat and stir in the garam masala.
5)Serve topped with sliced raw onions and coriander leaves. What is this served with? I don’t know…I usually eat it with rice. And I must say that the flavour is even better the day after it is made!
*The original recipe calls for 1 tea bag. I thought it should be darker still, plus I mostly buy loose tea so that I can pretend to read fortunes in a cup. The extra fiber doesn’t hurt either, and I do recall reading about a tea-leaf salad somewhere…
**The original recipe calls for 5 whole cloves to be cooked with the chana and then fished out afterwards. I got tired of trying to find them and decided to grind them up.
P.S. You may be wondering (or not) if I’ll be trying other Pindi chana recipes in the future and blogging about them? You bet! But the story will always go from free CDs to Ashwini’s complimentary booklet from a pressure-cooker, and then onwards…
I own a truly fascinating cookbook, by Smita and Sanjeev Chandra, entitled Cuisines of India. Besides having an eye-catching dust-cover, it really is a good read. The chapters are divided into broad, historical summaries, coupled with a discussion of the cuisine developement of the parties involved. There are political maps included as well! Every single recipe in the book also includes an interesting tale as its introduction, and because of all this, one could definitely spend hours just reading, as I did when I first acquired my copy, and not enter the kitchen at all!
My favorite recounts are those of Fanny Eden and her brushings with Ranjit Singh- that colourful Sikh leader who made himself king of Punjab in 1801. I still find myself truly laughing at loud when I read one of the Punjabi/Punju recipes that includes one of these! Here, for your amusement, is the one which heads a very good recipe that I just tried, taken from chapter 4, Decline of the Moghul Empire: Flowering of Regional Cuisines:
The table was covered with gold bottles and cups and some specimens of Sikh cookery- spiced balls of meat, or rather essence of meat, of very strong composition, pomegranite seeds, etc…The composition he calls wine is like burning fire, much stronger than brandy, and his great delight when he sets in to be gay is to make people drink it…I got on very well for some time, pretending to drink it and passing it to his cup-bearer. But he grew suspicious, put it up to his one eye, looked well into the cup, shook his head and gave it me back again. The next time he put his finger into the cup to see how much was gone. I made Major Wade explain to him that ladies did not drink so much in England, upon which he watched till George’s [her brother, governor general of India] head was turned away and passed a cup to me under his arm, thinking George was the horrid tyrant who prevented me.
Poor Fanny… 😀 In other exerpts from her journal we find her suffering through other banquets and dishes that, heaven forbid, were made to look like precious metals…
This recipe, though simple to prepare, is quite delicious! I have no idea how authentic it is; I’d like to hear feedback from anyone who might know! I made a couple additions to keep a theme going and make use of things I had handy: I sprinkled two finely-sliced green onions and a pinch of shredded mint-leaves over the top at the end of cooking. Either way, it is a very green, very vitamin-infused sauce that complements chicken deliciously well. It is sugested by the authors to serve it with rice and bhindi ki sabzi (sabzi-fied okra?!)
Dhaniye aur Kaju wale Murgh
8 skinless chicken thighs, bone in, washed and drained (I cleaved each into three pieces, bone included)
For the marinade:
1/4 C raw cashews, ground
1 t ground coriander seeds
3/4 t ground cumin seeds
1/2 t ground chiles
1/4-1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 t garam masala
1/2 t turmeric
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2″ piece of ginger, sliced
1 C coriander leaves and stems, washed, drained, chopped
1 hot green chile, seeded and sliced (I used 3)
1 C plain yoghurt, not low-fat
salt to taste
1)Make a paste of the garlic, ginger, coriander leaves and green chiles.
2)Combine this with the rest of the marinade ingredients and mix with the chicken pieces well in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
2 T or so of oil
1/2 t cumin seeds
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly-sliced
1/4 C raw cashews, whole
1 T lemon (or lime) juice
1/2 C coriander leaves, chopped
2 green onions, finely-sliced(my addition)
4-5 mint leaves, finely shredded (stack, roll into a little log and slice thinly- my addition)
1)Heat oil in a cooking vessel over med-high heat and add the cumin seeds; after a few seconds add the onions and whole cashews; fry stirring fairly constantly until the onions are golden and just beginning to brown.
2)Strain these, using a slotted spoon, from the oil and set aside. Add the chicken and its marinade to the pan, stir well, cover and allow it to come to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low and cook for 40 min, stirring occasionally to avoid catching, until tender.
3)Add the reserved onions, cashews and lemon juice and cook 5 minutes more. Check for salt.
4)Sprinkle coriander leaves, green onions, and mint leaves over the top and serve hot with rice.
My deepest gratitude to Musical and her Kitchen for her assistance in translating the title of this dish for me! 🙂