Kaale Chane (black chickpeas)
There a few things about Indian culture that are irreplaceable. One of them is the tradition to celebrate every relationship. From birth until death the relationships that we build and are born into are celebrated and honoured in the ancient and continuing ‘Indian Tradition’.
One such festival was celebrated this week in India and in the expat diaspora. It’s called Raksha Bandhan and more commonly Rakhi. The meaning of the festival and its symbolism is contained in the name. Raksha in Hindi means protection or the act of protecting and Bandhan stands for relation. So Raksha Bandhan is the bond between a brother and a sister where both pledge their love and devotion to each other and the brother specifically promises to protect his sister. The sister in turn prays for him and bestows him with her love and blessing for a fulfilling and successful life. And as a symbol of their bond, a sister ties a thread, decorated or plain, called Rakhi onto her brother’s right wrist.
This might sound very patriarchal; we are a largely patriarchal society with very few matriarchal or matrilineal groups; it is first and foremost a celebration of a bond only siblings can understand.
So to celebrate this bond in our new homes, faraway from our folks and country, a few friends got together to cook and eat a traditional meal served on this occasion.
The meal consisted of Chhole (white chickpea curry), Suji ka halwa (semolina pudding), Kaale Chane (black chickpeas), Dahi Bhale (curd with dumplings) and Puri (fried bread).
I contributed the Kaale Chane and thats what I am sharing with you today. In the days to come I will share the rest of the menu mentioned above.
I was so busy eating that I forgot to take more photographs!
1 1/2 cup black chickpeas, easily available at Indian grocery stores. Wash and soak them overnight or at least for 3 to 4 hours.
1 large red onion, finely chopped.
1 or 2 green chillies, slit lengthwise.
1 large tomato, diced.
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped.
1 inch piece of ginger cut julienne.
1 tsp turmeric powder.
1-2 tsps salt, according to taste.
2-3 tbsps vegetable or olive oil.
1 tsp dry coriander seeds.
1 tsp cumin seeds.
A pinch of red chilly powder.
1-2 tsp dry mango powder (amchoor).
1 tsp garam masala.
After you’ve soaked the chickpeas overnight or for a few hours, empty them along with the water into a pressure cooker. Add enough water to just about cover the chickpeas, since we aren’t making a curry we don’t need more than that. We need to steam them just enough to get them cooked.To this add turmeric powder and salt. Close the lid and let it cook on high heat until you get 2 whistles. After this turn the heat to low and let it sit while you prepare ingredients for the tempering.
Once you are done chopping the onions, chillies and tomatoes, turn off the heat under the pressure cooker. Take a medium-sized skillet and put it on medium heat. Add oil and let it warm up a little before adding the cumin and coriander seeds. Once the seeds are crackling add in the chillies. Let them cook until they stop crackling. Put in the chopped onions and cook them to a light brown. At this point throw in the garlic. I try to add garlic at a point when I am almost done because garlic burn really quickly. Cook the garlic until a golden brown. At this time you should add all the remaining spices and cook them for a few minutes.
Now add in the ginger and also add the cooked chickpeas. This recipe is for dry chickpeas, so if there is any water remaining in the pressure cooker let it slowly simmer with the chickpeas and the tempering. Top the chickpeas with the diced tomatoes and cover the skillet, but make sure there is an outlet for the steam and reduce the heat. Check after 5 minutes. If the water has completely evaporated, your dish is ready. Sprinkle the juice of one lime before serving.
This is a good source of proteins and the only fat is used to prepare the tempering. If you want to reduce the amount of oil used, cook on slow heat.
Eat this warm with some whole wheat indian bread, chapatis also called rotis. You can also let it cool down and enjoy it as a snack with some papadum, sliced cucumber or your favourite chips.