I don’t remember having Dora or Barbie themed birthday parties with perfectly frosted pretty cakes sitting in the center of the table waiting to be cut wearing those frilly birthday gowns. Yet, it was the most special day and definitely something I looked forward to for weeks.
I pretty much had a black forest cake for most of my birthdays, the indian version being a far cry from the european marvel, still many of you who grew up in India in the 80s would know how we loved it. As with most indian families any kind of celebration meant lady of the house staying in the kitchen dawn to dusk, making one dish after the other.It started with special homemade samosas for breakfast and aromatic biryani or pilaf for lunch and the best was saved for dinner. Everything the rest of the family did whole afternoon was decorating the living room like a bride with those odd colored, mismatched paper ruffles & shimmering swirls, lacking in cohesion but strings of happiness & celebration running through them for certain.
It did not feel like a birthday unless guests had scooped spicy hot chole with yeasty, puffed bhaturas and gobbled down at least a few dozens of warm homemade gulab jamuns. Sometimes, dum aloo and moong dal ki goli were added to the menu but relishing that aromatic, earthy chickpeas curry is what my most fond birthday memory is made up of.You would wonder as to whats so special about chickpeas, but in our house, chickpeas and other bean curries were limited to special occasions. Given that most of the indian kids I have known in my life LOVE chole-bhature, I was no different.
Usually, I am not hell-bent on starting traditions in the family but the equation changes when food is involved. A couple of weeks back when we celebrated little A’s birthday, amongst those pink cupcakes & chinese food, I severely yearned to eat chole- bhature and missed the time when we sat in rounds on the floor with food loaded bhojanthaals set in front of us, laughter, greasy fingers and steam emanating from straight-out-the-wok fried bread. Suddenly, it made perfect sense to make chickpea curry for the two of us and relieve those moments for a while.
Pindi Chana is a spicy chickpea curry which gets its name from Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan) before India-Pak partition, where it originated.This curry is different from the regular chana masala in terms of the selection of spices and rich color from tea added during boiling the chickpeas.Don’t worry you will never taste the tea here,rather a very unique, earthy flavor,notable to this spicy preparation. Pindi Chana is a dry preparation of chickpeas coated with the masala (sauce) and is best served with a bread, salad and pickle on the side.
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
For Boiling the Chickpeas (skip this step if using canned chickpeas)
- 1 cup chickpeas, raw
- 1 no black unflavored tea bag (if you are using a mild tea variety, you can use 2 bags)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp oil
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tbsp chaat masala
For the Sauce
- 4 tbsp mustard oil (or any neutral oil)
- 3/4 cup tomatoes, chopped
- 1.5 tsp grated fresh ginger shoot
- 1 fat garlic clove
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1-2 Thai green chilies (adjust to tolerance)
- Salt to taste
- Chopped Cilantro for garnish
Grind to a coarse powder
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 dry red chillies
- 1 tsp anardana (dried pomegranate seeds, use lemon juice/dry mango powder if you don’t have these)
- 1 small black cardamom
- 1/2 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
Soak the chickpeas overnight in enough water.Drain and discard the water and transfer the chickpeas to your pressure cooker. Add tea bag, salt, oil and 2.5 cups water and pressure cook for 4-5 whistles or till 95% cooked. Please adjust the cooking time & number of whistles depending on your variety of chickpeas. Once cooked, drain the chickpeas, discard the tea bag and reserve the stock. Mix chaat masala & half of the ground spice with the chickpeas and set aside.
In a pot, heat up the oil to smoky on high heat. Take off the stove and add the chopped tomatoes to the oil. Also add ginger and garlic. Cook on medium heat till the tomatoes soften and you see oil separating on sides of the pot. At this point, add the turmeric and rest of the spice powder to the pan and cook for another 3-4 minutes till you smell a nice aroma. Add the chickpeas to the pot next with about 3/4 – 1 cup of reserved stock and green chillies. Taste and adjust the salt. Cover and let the chickpeas cook on medium low heat for 20-25 minutes or till they are completely soft but not mushy.
Let sit for 1-2 hours before serving. The sauce will thicken up and develop flavors as the dish sits. When ready to serve, reheat and if you feel that they are too dry, add little bit of reserved stock, simmer again for 5-7 minutes and serve garnished with cilantro.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!