Having grown up in a bustling metropolitan like Mumbai has taught me some very important facts; one of which is that the food is very diverse. At least, in my case, that has rung true. Mom brought with her the touch of Bengal, and over the years, picked up local Maharashtrian cuisine and flavours of the South from our neighbours and friends. Also predominant are many Burmese flavours, and because we have relatives from Punjab and Dad himself grew up in Delhi, North Indian delicacies have always graced our table.
Rajmas and choles have made many, many appearances in my house, and rightly so, since we love these dishes. But the other day, I told mom that I wanted to try a simple south-Indian style chana masala, a recipe I have enjoyed very often in my favourite Mumbai Udupi. I remember the dish being part of a ‘thali’ which literally translates to PLATE, but is actually a set of numerous dishes; rice, chapati or flatbread, a lentil/dal, some curries and veggies, a sweet, some curd, pickles and salad, and often a refreshing drink.
Unlike the Punjabi or Amritsari versions, this one is lightly flavoured, and it’s base ingredient is, of course, the humble coconut. There’s a subtle sweetness to the curry as there’s no addition of ‘aamchoor’ or dry mango powder in this. We also add curry leaves for the tempering, giving the dish a beautiful earthy flavour. I have adapted the recipe from Dassana Amit’s vegrecipesofindia website 🙂
This Chana Masala can be enjoyed with Parathas or Poooris, but you can also have it with rice if you wish, either plain rice, Jeera rice or Pulao. Mom had made some Whole-wheat flour or Atta Pooris, unlike our usual Bengali Luchi, keeping it lighter and slightly healthier (though there’s nothing healthy about deep fried pooris 😛 )
(The pooris were clicked at night, hence the dark pic…please excuse 😦 )
Chana Masala (South-Indian style Chickpea Curry)
- Chickpeas/Chole – 1 cup
- Bay leaves – 2
- Cinnamon – 1 inch stick
- Green cardamom – 3 or 4
- Black cardamom – 1
- Cloves – 2 or 3
- Dry red chilies – 2 (soaked in hot water, seeds removed)
- Onions – 3, chopped finely
- Ginger – 1 inch, grated
- Garlic – 8 to 10 cloves, crushed
- Fresh grated coconut – 3/4 cup
- Green chilies – 2, chopped
- Cumin seed – 1 tsp
- Cumin powder – 1 tsp
- Coriander powder – 2 tsp
- Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
- Red chili powder – 1 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Coconut oil or vegetable oil – 3 tbsp
- For the tempering:
- Curry leaves – 10 to 15
- Ghee – 1 tbsp
- Garlic flakes – 1/2 tsp
- Asafoetida/Heeng – 1 tsp
- Kashmiri red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
- Soak the chickpeas overnight and strain them in the morning.
- Pressure cook the chickpeas with some salt, until they’re soft when pressed between fingers, but not mushy.
- Retain the water.
- Dry roast the garam masala and coconut until toasted to a nice golden brown.
- Cool, and make a coarse powder.
- Heat a kadhai and heat the oil, until it’s smoky.
- Add the cumin seeds, and let them sputter.
- Tip the bay leaves, onions and green chilies.
- Add the grated ginger and crushed ginger, and add turmeric, red chili powder and fry until golden.
- Now add the dry roasted masala, and fry well on a low flame, until fragrant and golden.
- Add the cumin and coriander powders, and the boiled chickpeas.
- Mix well, and add the salt, and cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until oil escapes the sides and the chana looks mixed well through.
- Uncover, and add the chickpea stock, check seasonings, and cook until gravy is semi-dry.
- In a tadka pan, heat the ghee, let it smoke, and add the asafoetida, curry leaves and garlic flakes.
- One smoky and golden, pour it over the finished chana masala, and mix right before serving.