Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chenna Masala

This spicy chickpea curry is akin to a thick stew and is usually eaten with Indian flat bread like chapati or roti. However if that is not available, rice can be substituted. To eat it in a Western style, I sometimes like to toast bread and scoop it over that.

This dish is usually garnished with fresh cut diced tomato and red onion, coriander leaves and lemon juice. All are not required, you can choose those you like or have handy. Photo in post courtesy Krishna Kumar, used with permission.

1 cup dry white chick peas (kabuli chenna) or 2 cups soaked and canned chickpeas
1 black tea bag
pinch asafetida powder
2 tbspn oil
pinch mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup onion, diced then pureed
1 tsp garlic paste or minced garlic
1 tsp ginger paste
1 cup tomato, diced then pureed
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 -1/2 tsp salt (to your taste)
1 tsp amchur powder (for sourness)


Step 1:
If using dried chick peas, soak for about 8 hours. They will fluff up twice the size that is why 1 cup dried equals two cups soaked/canned.

Step 2:
Place soaked chick peas, tea bag, pinch asafetida and water to cover these peas in a pressure cooker. Wait for three whistles. Let cool.
The added tea bag changes the color of the peas slightly to brown/black. It is optional to use the tea bag, but it also does add flavor.

Step 3:
While the pressure cooker is working, dice onions, and puree. Set aside.
Dice tomatoes and puree along with the ginger, garlic, corriander powder, garam masala, chili powder, turmeric and amchur separately from onions, set aside.
Do not add salt yet.

Step 4:
After the pressure cooker whistles thrice and cools, open and drain peas.
Heat a wok or larger frying pan on high. When the pan heats up, add the oil. When oil is hot, add a pinch of black mustard seeds.
Take care to wait for them to pop, they will come out of the pan slightly and a nice smell will come, turn heat to medium.
Quickly add the cumin seeds.

Step 5:
Stir the cumin seeds a nice smell will come, do not burn.
Quickly add the onions and stir. Heat should be on medium now so this does not burn. If you use an electric stove, you may need to pick the pan off the burner slightly
to prevent the onions from burning.

Step 6:
After heating onions about 3-4 minutes oil may separate from onions slightly, add the tomato spice puree. Stir nicely and let simmer about 5 minutes.

Step 7:
Add the chenna/chole (chick peas). While adding do not simply put them in, but as you place them in the pan squeeze between your hands to make a mash of them. Usually within
each handful about half get pressed and mashed up. This makes a thicker, stew like consistency. Stir the mix.

Step 8:
Add two cups water. Keep on medium heat and heat for 1- 1.5 hours. You can add a little salt and add more as you taste throughout this time.
You will know it is done when the spices have penetrated into the whole beans/peas.

Step 9:
Place in small bowls and garnish with onions, tomatoes, cilantro/coriander leaves and/or lemon juice as available. Eat with chapati, roti or rice.

Serves about 4-6.

*This recipe adapted from ecouter.