Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chole Pindi & Chole Palak

Chickpeas For Everyone!

Today is my one month-iversary in Bangalore! 

I haven't had the opportunity to take any cooking lessons yet but until I get the chance to do so, I've made it one of my goals to try my hand at one new dish a week. When we go out to eat I write down the foods I like and then look up recipes when I get home. I'm far (very. very. veryveryvery far) from being able to adapt and experiment, but I'm having fun learning about all the different spices here and I've only almost blown up our kitchen 6 or 7 times! (Our housekeeper physically removed the lighter from my hand when she saw me attempting to light our stove my first week here...)

Hot meals, made from scratch, are part of the culture here so you can't find nearly as many packaged/pre-made foods at the grocery store. But fresh produce and all sorts of grains and spices are readily available and SUPER affordable.

This cost about $25, and most of that was because of the imported ingredients like red-wine vinegar.

Anyhoo.. the first dish I tried is called Chole Palak, Chickpeas & Spinach.

I have to admit something a little embarrassing...  I've never made beans from scratch.  Most recipes call for canned and I'm a rule follower. (Except, of course, when I'm not.)

But here in India? Not an option. And so began my adventure with Indian cooking.

I bought a small bag of chickpeas and decided to make the whole thing. Google told me I could just freeze what I didn't need. Let's just say... my freezer wasn't big enough to store the spare chickpeas that resulted from this little experiment.

Therefore, my second dish was Chole Pindi:

It doesn't look that different, but trust me... it is.
The instructions on this one required some creative thinking, so here's what I did:

Put the soaked chickpeas in a large pot filled with water. Add 2 tea bags (chai if you can find it, otherwise English Breakfast will do) and salt and cook till soft. Once cooked to desired softness, remove the tea bags. Drain the chickpeas, but reserve liquid.

Dry roast pomegranate seeds, coriander seeds, half the turmeric powder, half the red chilli powder, and dry mango powder. This is the chana masala. 

Heat three tablespoons ghee or butter in a deep frying pan or wok.  Add one teaspoon cumin seeds and sauté till it changes colour. Add onions and sauté till golden. Add ginger paste, garlic paste, red chilli powder, remaining turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and continue to sauté. Add boiled chickpeas, a pinch of salt and a quarter cup reserved cooking liquid from the chickpeas.

Meanwhile heat one tablespoon ghee/butter in a pan, add the remaining cumin seeds and tomatoes. Add slit green chillies and a little salt and toss. Stir and press the tomatoes lightly. Add a little water and cook for two minutes. Add to the chickpeas along with chana masala and garam masala. Stir to mix well and cook for fifteen to twenty minutes on low heat. Add water or reserved cooking liquid a few tablespoons at a time if need be.

Serve hot. 

After the two traditional Indian dishes I made a roasted red pepper sauce and used it to toss whole grain pasta, green beans and chickpeas.

And then I made a big batch of hummus.

And then I added chickpeas to some bulgur and steamed summer veggies.

And then I tossed some into a salad.

And I still. have. chickpeas.

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