Thursday, June 5, 2008


This is the 1st of the recipes I published at Apni, being moved to its appropriate location, away from the movie blog.

I'm not a great cook. But I like to cook. And I like to cook fast, without spending too much time on the stove, using ingredients I like. Most importantly, I cannot cook stuff I dont like to eat myself :D

One of my all-time favorites is chhole (stewed chick peas). Reading the recipe, any purist can tell that I use a lot of short-cuts- but that's fine by me since my only attempt is to make it taste like mom's- which it does :D

Best thing about this dish? Slow cooking, no fat, tons of flavor.

What I used:

1 can chickpeas, rinsed
2 tomatoes, diced or crushed
2 red onions, minced
1 green chillie, minced
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste (as always, available at your friendly neighborhood Indian grocery)
1 tbsp garam masala, OR prefereably: 3 cloves, 3 green cardamoms, 2 black cardamoms, 1 stick cinnamon, 3 whole black peppers, & 1/2 tsp dhania (coriander) powder).
1/2 tsp red pepper powder
1/2 bunch fresh coriander, minced
Juice of a lemon + 1/2 red onion, diced
Salt to taste

Optional: a peice of dried mango (Amchur, from your friendly neighborhood Indian shop)

And this is what I did:
- In a deep-bottomed pan, throw in the diced tomatoes, keeping the heat at a medium. Stir frequently, letting the tomatoes wilt a bit- their juice should prevent sticking.
- Now add in the minced onion, and stir to prevent sticking. Adding a tsp pf oil helps at this time- while I hate adding oil, a lil bit doesn't hurt.
- Once the onions turn golden, add the whole spices (if using). If you are using just the garam masala, skip on ahead without adding that right now. Let the whole spices toast with the onions till you can smell them, then add the rinsed chickpeas, green chillie and turmeric to the pot, and let sit for a few minutes.
- Once the water from the tomatoes and chickpeas evaporates, stir to avoid burning. Add some salt and red pepper. Add the Amchur, if using.
- Now add about 1 point of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the pot to a simmer, and let it bubble gently for about 1/2 hr.
- In about 1/2 hr, the chickpeas should disperse a bit in the liquid, which should have thickened. if you like it thinner, add more water, and give it a boil.
If you want the gravy thicker, then simply take out 1/2 cup of chickpeas, run through your processor and add the minced chickpeas back to the pot. Or just use the side of your spatula to mash the peas in the pan a bit.
- Once you have the consistency that works best for you, add the garam masala, and adjust for salt and pepper. Add more garam masala if that rocks your boat.
- Throw in the diced red onion, lemon juice and fresh coriander, and remove from heat. The onion will continue to cook in the heat of the pot, thus removing any sharp raw taste.

And this is what it looked like:

Alternative beans: You can do exactly the same thing for Kidney beans (Rajma), or black-eyed peas (lobia).

Serving Options: In India, tThis is normally served with bhature (puffed fried leavened bread). I don't like making the fried bread- 1) I suck at it, 2) it's very oily, so why learn to make it in the first place?. I serve the chick peas over rice/regular parathe (pan fried unleavened bread- I really just toast instead of fry)/store brought naan bread/by itself as a snack in individual bowls ;)

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