Kala chana is a very festive vegetable. It always reminds me of the Hindu festival ashtami, when the women of the house worship the girls in the house (and neighbourhood) and then serve them lunch and give each a gift. The lunch for the day is a very thick gravy of kale chane and pooris with sooji ka halwa.
Every house had to worship eight girls (asht in Hindi means eight), so often we would be invited to other homes in the neighbourhood. That day meant lots of food and lots of gifts. Ah! I miss being a little girl.
This recipe for kala chana curry (black chickpeas gravy) is my mom’s recipe. Simple to cook and tasty, the same recipe can be made into three different dishes. Boil enough to evaporate most of the water and you have almost a dry vegetable to serve with pooris, make it a little wet when serving with rice and add no water in the final stage and sprinkle some chaat masala for a warm chana chaat.
KALA CHANA CURRY (BLACK CHICKPEAS GRAVY)
Preparation: 10 minutes | Cooking Time: 30 minutes | Serves: 2
1/2 cup – Dry black peas, soaked overnight in 2 cups of water
2 tbsp – Ghee (for a vegan preparation use vegetable oil)
1 pinch – Asafoetida
1/2 tsp – Cumin seeds
1-inch – Cinnamon stick
1 – Bay leaf
1 – Black cardamom
1 – Onion, finely chopped
2 – Tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp – Ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp – Turmeric powder
1 tsp – Red chilli powder
1 tsp -Cumin powder
1/2 tsp – Dry mango powder (amchoor)
1/2 tsp – Garam masala
Salt – To taste
* Pressure cook the soaked kale chane with salt and turmeric for 4-5 whistles until soft. Remove the pressure cooker from heat after 4-5 whistles but don’t force open it. Let the steam escape on its own.
* Heat ghee/oil in a deep pan on medium-low heat. Once the oil is hot add asafoetida, cumin seeds, cinnamon, bay leaf and black cardamom in the oil. Stir for about 30 seconds. You can smell the aroma of spices as they are cooking.
* Add chopped onions and ginger-garlic paste. Sauté till the onion starts to brown. This would take 7-8 minutes.
* Add the chopped tomatoes. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Now add all the other spices. Stir well and cook till the mixture leaves ghee/oil on the sides. It will take about 10 minutes.
* By this time the steam from the pressure cooker would have escaped and you can safely open the cooker. Add the boiled change along with the water it is boiled in to the pan.
* Mix well and simmer for 5-10 minutes till the gravy is of desired consistency. Taste the black peas and if they are still not as soft as you would like then add some more water and cook covered for longer till they are soft enough.
* Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot with rice or rotis.