Thursday, 4 April 2013

Another Channa Masala Vegan or Not…

Another Channa Masala Vegan or Not…

Of all the legumes, I love channa the most.  The nutty taste, dense texture, nutritional value, what more could anyone ask for? Channa soaks up  masala and it’s fairly quick to make.  If you’re looking for a vegetarian main dish, this is an excellent choice. 
If you want this vegetarian and vegan, just omit the dairy and use coconut cream instead. 
If I were cooking this from scratch, that is from the dried state, I’d use a pressure cooker.  Unfortunately, I don’t own one, and at my age it feels a little self indulgent to buy one now, so I just buy canned.  Chickpeas, channa, chana, garbanzo beans, they’re the same little yellow guys; just don’t pay too much because of the naming difference.  I’ve tried soaking the dried channa and cooking it for hours on the stovetop, and also in a slow cooker, but have always had rather al dente results.  Not so great for the digestion, I’m afraid.

Provided you’re using cooked channa, either in canned or pressure cooked form, this meal is under an hour to prepare.

Indian Bay Leaves here, you could use regular.
2 Kashmiri chillies
1 tablespoon cumin seed
1 tablespoon coriander seed
6 cloves
½ teaspoon fennel seed
½ teaspoon fenugreek seed
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
3 green cardamom, bashed and smashed
2 black cardamom, bashed and husked

Indian bay leaf
1 cinnamon or the equivalent of cassia
Saw a new one of these for thirty dollars today! Ha!

½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon hing

1 tablespoon (maybe a bit more) mustard oil
8 to 10 curry leaves
1 red onion, finely diced

6 medium tomatoes
1 inch ginger, roughly chopped
2 Thai chillies
5 garlic cloves
2 cans channa (540 ml size)
big handful fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon heavy cream (or ½ cup coconut cream)

To get started, roast the whole spices in a large pot, whatever you will be using for the main dish.  Use medium heat, and when they start to send up fragrant wisps, remove from heat.  Pluck out the cinnamon and bay leaf, and transfer the remainder to a spice grinder, along with the powdered turmeric, paprika and hing.  Grind everything to a fine powder.

Add mustard oil to the pot, and heat.  Put back the cinnamon and bay leaf, and when the oil is hot, add the curry leaves and diced onion. 
Cook till the onion is translucent and golden at the edges.  While the onion is cooking, put the tomatoes, ginger, Thai chillies and garlic into the food processor.  I’m using Tina and Lourdina’s trick of tossing in the garlic cloves whole, paper and all.  They swear this method produces a more flavourful dish.  It’s easier, that’s certain, and the blender does eliminate the paper, somehow.  Puré the tomato mix. 

Dairy or Coconut Cream, so luscious!
Once the onions are done, add the ground masala, and cook for a few minutes.  You may want to add more oil at this point, but it’s not totally necessary.  I thought about my waistline, and didn’t, since heavy cream finishes this dish…

Have the lid to the pot handy and quickly pour the puréed mix into the pan, and cover.  It will boil up furiously and spatter and burn you otherwise.  The tomato should be left to cook, covered, for about ten minutes.  Use this time to drain and rinse the channa, and maybe wash the cilantro.  Add the channa, pomegranate syrup and salt, stirring and leave to cook another fifteen minutes or so.  Add the cilantro in the last two minutes and the cream just before serving.

This dish goes well with basmati rice or better yet, whole wheat rotis.  Add a fresh Indian salad, and you’d be very happy!

No comments:

Post a Comment