Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Channa Chole Channi...

Actually I used channa and a mix of other beans tonight!
Channa Chole Channi… 

I still can’t figure out exactly what I should be calling this dish.  As a Canadian cooking this stuff, a lot of what I do is based on experience of course, but also pure intuition, wild guesses, and advice from whomever is willing to provide it.  If you can help me out with advice or tips, please use the comment section below.  In the meantime, let’s just call this recipe a spicy vegetarian chickpea stew, very filling and healthy. 
The Masala
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander seed
½ teaspoon black cumin seed
2 black cardamoms, husked and slightly crushed
4 green cardamom pods, smashed and slightly crushed
4 cloves
1 teaspoon fennel
¼  teaspoon fenugreek seed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 large cinnamon stick
11/2 teaspoons turmeric powder
pinch of hung
½ teaspoon black Indian salt (if you know what this is really called please let me know!)

In the large and deep pot you expect to cook this in, gently roast all of the above spices, except the last three items.  When they are slightly smoking and fragrant, put everything but the cinnamon into a spice grinder, along with the turmeric, hing and salt.  Grind to a powder. 
The chickpeas and vegetables

1 tablespoon mustard oil
1 teaspoon dark mustard seed
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 red onion roughly chopped
5 fresh garlic cloves
2 inches ginger, roughly chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, roughly chopped
½ pickled habanero pepper
1 796 ml can of tomatoes
3 540 ml cans of chick peas
2 teaspoons amchur powder (dried pomegranate seed)
1 teaspoon jaggery (a type of Indian raw sugar, found in a solid block)
garnish with a few washed cilantro leaves
This dish is a bit tricky, so you need to have ingredients prepared ahead of time.  First, put the tomatoes and their juice in a blender.  Add the onion, ginger, chillies, and garlic.  Liquify.

With the cinnamon still in the pot, turn up the heat to medium high and add oil.  Test it by adding a few mustard seeds.  When they turn white and sizzle add the rest, then the cumin.  It will sizzle and turn white too.  Pour in the tomato mixture, and turn down the heat to medium.  Leave the blender pitcher on the counter.  Splattering will occur, so you might want to have a lid handy!
Let this cook at least twenty minutes, till some of the oil starts to separate a bit at the edges.  Add the ground masala and let cook about five minutes.  Although diehards might use their own pre-cooked channa (chickpeas), I don’t own a pressure cooker, so I use canned.  Canned must be well rinsed.  Add them to the tomato mixture, and add about three cups of water to the blender, and buzz to get the last of the good stuff into the water.  Add to the chickpeas, along with the amchur powder and jaggery.  While I am begging for advice, could someone please let me know how to easily scrape up jaggery?  Mine’s in a block that defies easy grinding and scraping.  Anyway, to resume my directions, cook on medium heat about another 30 minutes.
The habanero makes this quite spicy, so be sure to serve this over lots of basmati rice.  I almost always serve this with sag paneer, another vegetarian dish that involves spinach and Indian cheese.  So delicious.  And please, please, please help me by posting your tips, questions and or wisdom!

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