Sri Lankan-style chickpeas for Lisa

I’ve created this dish especially for a blogging event run by a one of my favourite bloggers, Lisa from Lisa’s Kitchen. The event is No Croutons Required, and the this month’s topic is chickpeas. I really wanted to take part, partly because I haven’t in ages, and partly because I really love chickpeas myself. After a bit of thought, I decided to adapt one of my favourite veggie Sri Lankan recipe, varar, adding caramelised shallots, coriander and lemon juice. The result is a gorgeous warm salad of chickpeas flavoured with caramelised shallots, curry leaves, coconut and lemon juice that goes great with many Indian and Sri Lankan dishes, and it’s also delicious on its own as a snack. I love it. I hope Lisa will like it, too.

A note on chickpeas. I really notice a difference in flavour between tinned and dried chickpeas, and for me, this is one instance when it’s worth taking the time to soak and cook the chickpeas. They’re so much nicer like that! I can even eat them as popcorns after they’ve just been cooked – they really are delicious. But if you really really can’t be bothered, then next time you’re in your favourite Asian supermarket, pick up a tin of East End brand of chickpeas. They’re the tastiest ones I’ve found. Still, for hummus and falafel, I’d soak and cook my own chickpeas.

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Sri-Lankan-style chickpeas

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Sri-Lankan-style chickpeas salad

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SOURCE:  Inspired by Jasmine’s varar

PREPARATION TIME: 2 min, if the chickpeas are ready

COOKING TIME: 5 – 10 min, again, if you’re not soaking your own chickpeas

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 1 as a salad, 2 as a small side dish

 

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INGREDIENTS:

a little vegetable oil

2 medium shallots, halved and then sliced thinly

1 green finger chilli 

a small handful of (preferably fresh) curry leaves

a little salt

1 tsp tempering spices (a mixture of brown/black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds – see Sri Lankan spices for recipe)

a pinch of turmeric

1 cup of chickpeas (cooked, or tinned)

a handful of desiccated  coconut

fresh lime juice to taste

1 heaped tsp chopped coriander leaves

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METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a wok (or frying pan) and add the shallots and the chili. When the shallots start going brown, throw in the curry leaves and a little salt. Stir and cook until the shallots are completely caramelised. Then, remove half of the mixture and set aside. (This will be sprinkled on top when the dish is done).
  • Return the pan to the heat, and add the tempering spices and turmeric. Stir.
  • Add the chickpeas to the pan, and a couple of tbs of water (or chickpeas soaking water), and warm the chickpeas through. Then in goes the coconut and a pinch of salt. Stir it and cook for 30 s, again until it’s warmed through.
  • Just before serving, add lemon or lime juice, chopped coriander and some more salt if needed. Sprinkle with the remaining shallots and serve. Enjoy!

 

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More Sri Lankan food at Maninas:

 

The aroma of curry leaves: Sri Lankan cooking (Introduction)

Sri Lankan spices (including recipes for Sri Lankan garam masala, curry powder and more!)

Varar – Sri Lankan cabbage and leek with coconut (V)

Sri Lankan coconut dhal (V)

Sri Lankan Pineapple Curry (V)

Sri Lankan Fish Curry (Meen Kulambu)

Sri Lankan Fish Cutlets

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And more chickpeas recipes:

My version of Catalan chick peas with tomatoes and almonds (V) – This is a must-try, with its delicious flavours of saffron, garlic, tomatoes, almonds and coriander!

My Moroccan-inspired chickpeas  (V)

Chana Masala (V) for RCI Punjab

Chana masala from scratch (V) – No shop bought spice mixes!

 

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MLLA21Logo

I’m also submitting this post to to MLLA-21 hosted by Mirch Masala, and started by Susan, The Well Seasoned Cook.

For the winter blues: Sri Lankan coconut dhal

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Hello! How are you, how’s the world at your end? Here in the UK, we’re cocooned in layers of snow of varying thickness, depending on where you are. When I was coming home tonight, around 6.30 pm, I felt this thick layer of snow under my feet is starting to freeze. I wonder what we’ll wake up to tomorrow. As idyllic as it all looks, us Mediterranean types are not faring to well in these conditions. All I want to do is hibernate until the sun shines back on us again. But though I refuse to believe it, the life goes on. There are jobs to do, people to see, dinners to cook… Yes… Dinners… Here’s what kept me awake and re-energised me this evening. Remember that delicious Sri Lankan dhal I was telling you about earlier? Here’s the recipe. Without the photos for now, until my camera awakes from its winter sleep. (I meant to take photos this evening, but my camera failed me.)

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This dhal is a serious contender for the title of my favourite dhal, so far held by the seductive Bengali Red Dal. It has a rich gutsy flavour of red lentils cooked with onion, garlic, chillies, and cumin and black pepper, imbued with the heady aroma of curry leaves, and with a squeeze of lime to heighten your senses. I normally prefer to eat my dhal on the same day I make it, but this one I find improves with time. That is if you can stay away from it and leave some for tomorrow. I’m proud to day that this time I managed to do just that. Not even I can eat this much dhal at one sitting!

Let not the long list of ingredients intimidate you. This dhal is really very easy to make, and you can leave it to look after itself while you’re doing something else. Like making Sri Lankan coconut rotis, for example. Yes, that’s a good thing to do. (Recipe coming soon.) 

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Sri Lankan coconut dhal

 

SOURCEJasmine’s recipe

PREPARATION TIME: under 5 min

COOKING TIME: about 45 min

CUISINE: Sri Lankan

SERVES: 3 – 4 as a side dish, or 2 as a main

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of red lentils

1/4 red (medium to large) onions, or 2 shallots

2 large cloves of garlic, sliced

3 green chillies, roughly chopped

a handful of fresh curry leaves, shredded

1/3 tsp turmeric

2/3 tsp roughly ground cumin and black pepper mixture

1 scant tsp of fenugreek seeds

1/5 – 1/4 can of coconut milk

Juice of 1/2 lime, or more to taste

3 – 4 dried red chillies

salt to taste

a handful of (preferably fresh) curry leaves

1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee

1 tbsp tempering spices (mixture of brown/black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds – see Sri Lankan spices for recipe)

1 1/2 tbsp fried onions (or 3 – 4 shallots, shredded and then fried as below)

 

METHOD:

Place the lentils in about 2 – 3 cups of water. Then chop the chillies, onions, garlic, shred the curry leaves and add them to the lentils, together with turmeric, fenugreek and the cumin and black pepper mixture. Boil together until the lentils turn soft.

When the lentils are soft, add the coconut milk and stir through.

Before you’re ready to eat, prepare the tadka or tempering for the dhal. I usually don’t have fried onions at hand, so this is what I do. I heat the oil and then add the chillies and the curry leaves to it. when the curry leaves are starting to turn crisp, I pop in the onions/shallots, and cook them until they’re almost copper brown. Then add a few more curry leaves (if you want, which I invariably do), and the tempering spices. Stir for 10 s or until they release their fragrance. Now pop the contents of the pan into the lentil mixture, reserving perhaps some for the garnish. Stir, put the lid back on, and leave it for a minute or two for the flavours to mingle and make friends.

Don’t forget the lime. I sometimes add it before adding the tadka to the lentils, and sometimes after the tadka. Either way, don’t leave it out. It really does make all the difference.

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More dhals from this blog:

Bengali Red Dhal

Minty dhal (2 versions of  recipe)

 

Also:

More recipes with beans and lentils

More Sri Lankan recipes

 

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We’re at the 8th helping of My Legume Love Affair hosted and organised by the talented Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook. This is my entry for the event.  

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Chana Masala & Rajma – From Scratch!

As promised, here is the recipe for my chana masala (chickpeas curry) and rajma (red kidney beans), made entirely from scratch!

As I said, I was loosely inspired by the ingredients list on the MDH chana masala box (I’ve long stopped using it though). The basis of the dish is made of browned red onions, garlic, ginger and green chili, spiced with a combination of whole and powdered spices. I’ve read somewhere that the difference between whole and powdered spices is like the difference between high and low notes: think high notes when using whole, and low when using powdered spices. Of course, quantities matter, too. The coriander stand out a little, as I’ve added 1 1/2 tsp of it. That’s how I like it. The dish is finished off with a sprinkle of garam masala to round the flavours, and some amchoor to add the sour tones that I’m so addicted to, and to heighten the other flavours.

(The photos are of rajma only, though!

Rajma

Rajma – Punjabi Red Kidney Bean curry

 

Spice Tip – Coriander powder

Coriander powder does not burn easily. You can add it first among the powdered spices.

Techniques – Slicing onions

This is how I like slicing my onions. They look gorgeous when cooking, and cook rather evenly; another advantage is that I find it quicker than chopping onions as it takes no time to do it. Also, it does need a chopping board!

Take the sharpest small knife that you’ve got. Of course, you can use a bigger one, but it’s easier to use a small one. Also, the sharper, the better! Peel the onion, and cut it half, removing the hard end at the top where the little moustache used to be. Now, start slicing the onion thinly, creating thin semicircles of onion rings. That’s it!

Techniques – FRYING ONIONS to make Indian food

See this web page: Cooking Indian: How to fry onions.

Rajma

Chana Masala Perfected

 

SOURCE: ingredients loosely based on MDH chana masala box

PREPARATION TIME: 5 min

COOKING TIME: 45 min

CUISINE: North Indian – Punjabi

SERVES: 2 (as a main, 3 – 4 as a part of an Indian meal)

 

ingredients

2 medium red onions, sliced

1 1/2 tbsp ghee

 

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

3 – 4 cm ginger, peeled and chopped

3 – 4 green chilies

 

1 bay leaf

3/4 tsp cumin seeds

 

2 green cardamoms, slightly crushed

a pinch of fenugreek seeds (about 1/2 tsp)

4 – 5 cm cassia bark

 

1 1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 – 3/4 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cumin

3/4 tsp chili powder

 

1/2 can tomatoes

a pinch of sugar (optional; I use it to tame the sourness of the tomato)

 

1 can chickpeas, or the equivalent amount of dried, soaked and cooked chickpeas

 

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder)

1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped

 

method 

1. Heat the ghee to high medium heat, and add bay leat and cumin to it. Fry the onions, until they start to brown, following  the instructions here. (This is important; please take some time to read the instructions.)

2. When the onions start turning dark brown/purple, add garlic, ginger and chilies. Now add cardamoms, fenugreek and cassia bark. Fry further until the onions are dark brown, taking care not to burn them.

3. Now it’s time to add the powdered spices: add the coriander first and fry for a few seconds, then add the paprika, turmeric, cumin and chili. Fry for another 10 – 15 seconds.

4. Stir in the tomatoes and a pinch of sugar (optional). Cook until the mixture is thickened, preferably until the oil starts oozing at the top, which normally takes 10 – 15 min. This will  give it the best flavour.

5. Add the chickpeas, and cook for another 10 min.

6. Just before serving, stir in the garam masala, amchoor and coriander leaves. Serve with rice. Enjoy!

 

Verdict

I think I can now throw the MDH masala away! :D This is so much better! Especially when made with dried and soaked chickpeas, whose flavour is absolutely superior to the canned ones!

 

To Make Rajma

 Use the same quantity of rajma (red kidney beans) instead of the chickpeas.

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Others’ chana masala recipes: Nabeela’s Chana Masala without the shop bought spice mixChana masala from Lisa’s KitchenHow to make your own chana masala powderMahanandi’s Chana MasalaMeena’s Chana Masala, and a lesson on legumesAnother Meena’s Chana Masala, garnished with a funny storyBarbara’s Chana Masala Sailu’s Chole Masala with PuriAnita’s Punjabi Chhole_____________________________________________________

Other recipes with chick peas at Maninas: My version of Catalan chick peas with tomatoes and almonds . VThis is a must-try, with its delicious flavours of saffron, garlic, tomatoes, almonds and coriander!My Moroccan-inspired chickpeas  VChana Masala for RCI Punjab ______________________________________________________

 

 

My Morrocan-inspired chickpeas

Addicted to chickpeas? Who me? No…. OK maybe a little bit…. OK maybe a bit more…. :)

Here’s a confession: I played with chickpeas and my spice rack once more! And let me tell you, it was delicious! positively yummilicious! Which is why I’m sharing the recipe with you! But let’s not waste time! Here’s the recipe!

 

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My Morrocan-inspired Chickpeas

 

SOURCE: momentary inspiration, own recipe

PREPARATION TIME: 5 min

COOKING TIME:  30 – 45 min (not sure)

SERVES: 2 – 3

CUISINE: Morrocan-inspired

 

INGREDIENTS

 

1 tbsp cumin seeds 

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

1.5 cm ginger

3 small carrots

2 tsp crushed red chilies

1 tbsp ghee (or vegetable oil)

 

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp ras el hanout

1/2 tsp allspice

1 tsp cayenne pepper

40 g harissa

a little water

salt and pepper

 

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

 

2 cans of chickpeas (East End is my favourite brand at the moment)

 

a small handful of raisins

 

METHOD

 

1. First, toast the cumin seeds until they start to release their aroma. When done, take them out of the pan and leave to cool. Crush them with pestle and mortar and set aside.

2. Now melt the ghee and fry the onions until golden.

3. Add ginger, garlic and carrots. Continue frying until the onions are brown.

4. Add the spices, including half the cumin, and fry for a minute. Then, add the harissa and fry for a few minutes again. Add a little water if necessary.

5. Add the tomatoes and cook until the fat starts to separate, and little specks of ghee appear on the surface of the sauce. The onions will have almost melted, and you will get a thick spicy paste. At this stage, adjust the spices according to your taste. Add a bit more of what you think necessary.

6. Add the chickpeas to the mixture and stir, adding a little water if necessary.

At this stage, I put the rice to boil, so I must have cooked them for another 10 minutes at least.

7. 5 minutes before the end stir in the raisins. At the end, stir in the rest of crushed cumin seeds.

Serve with couscouos or rice.

 

 

Verdict

Loved it! And would make it again! It was spicy though (with all the cayenne, crushed chilies, harissa…), so adjust the level of heat according to how hot you like it/can take it! :) The lemon in the harissa gave it a lovely sour tang, which went well with the earthiness of the cumin stirred in at the end. Also, I loved the contrast between the structures of chickpeas, carrot and raisin. Speaking of carrots, I could have done with more carrot in the stew, so add some more if you wish. Add a bit more garlic, too.

I was going to serve it with a garnish of friend onions and garlic on top, but had no time. Try it, if you want!

You can have it as a vegetarian main course, and even as a side dish. Make loads and take leftover to work for lunch!

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Other chickpeas recipes at Maninas: Food Matters:

Chana Masala V

Catalan Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Almonds  V – my addaptation of Melissa’s recipe

Another twist on Catalan Chickpeas V

 

Chana Masala

In a previous post I spoke about my food being connected to people I know, and the places I’ve been to. This is true for this Chana Masala, too. I ‘inheritted’ a box of chana masala spice mix of my friend Mary. Mary is an American artist embroiderer whom I had a pleasure to meet in Oxford, UK; her work and musings on art can be found in her blog Stabbed. Now Mary is not only responsible for introducing this masala into my kitchen, but she is also the person who encouraged me to start blogging. I’d been reading other blogs for a while, and toying with the idea, but it was Mary who swayed me in this direction. I guess all of this is her fault, he he!

Chana Masala or Chole Masala is a North Indian dish, especially popular in the Punjab region. It’s main ingredient is chana, or chickpeas, which is cooked with onions, garlic, chilies, ginger and tomatoes; and spiced with turmeric, coriander, garam masala and dried mango powder; it is also possible to buy ready-made spice mix. Chana masala is normally eaten with roti (chapati) or rice, and yogurt. In India, it is often accompanied with bhatura, or chole bhature , a type of fried bread.

To find out more about Punjabi cuisine, check Richa’s excellent post at As Dear As Salt. The post is a part of the Regional Cuisines of India (RCI) blogging event, which is hosted by Richa this month, and the theme is Punjabi cuisine. RCI was started by Lakshmi, to celebrate the rich and diverse cuisines of India, and is hosted by a different blogger each month. I think this event is a fantastic idea, because not only does it encourage us to explore the many varieties of regional Indian food, but the round-ups also provide excellent resources of information and recipes! Here is the list of events yet to come, and here is the list of the RCIs held up to date:

APRILTamil cuisineIntroduction & Round-up at Veggie Cuisine

MAY – Andhra cuisineIntroduction & Round-up at Masala Magic

JUNE – Maharastrian cuisineIntroduction & Round-up Part One (snacks and light meals, street food, and rustic ), Two (complete meals or jevan; spice mixes or masale; powders, chutneys or pickles; salads; dried or curried vegetables, beverages)  and Three (dals and beans, eggs and meat; breads; rice dishes; sweets) at One Hot Stove

JULY – Punjabi cuisine –  Introduction & Round-up at As Dear As Salt

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Next month, RCI is featuring Oriya cuisine, hosted by Swapna.  (For more information on Oriya cuisine, look at Wikipedia, 123Orissa and Orissa Diary.)

This month, I’m also joining in in the exploration of regional Indian cuisine, and I’m submitting this post to Richa. If you’d alo like to take part, check this website for Punjabi recipes and inspiration!

Do try and make this delicious North Indian dish! If you don’t have the masala, you can still make this! Scroll down for a list of link to recipes that don’t use the masala.

I have no camera today, so there is no photo – for now. I’ll take a picture next time I make it, and upload it here.

 

Update 16 October 2007

Here is a photo of chana masala! Since this post, I made it a few times. One time, I added slices of fresh tomato to the cooked dish, which made it wonderfully fresh and tomatoy!

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Chana Masala

 

SOURCE: adapted from the recipe at the back of the MDH chana masala box

PREPARATION TIME: Less than 5 min

COOKING TIME: about 30 min

CUISINE: North Indian (Punjabi)

 

INGREDIENTS

ghee or vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic

2 green chilies

2 cm ginger

3 chopped tomatoes

1 can chick peas

20 g chana masala (I used MDH brand)

a little paprika

a pinch of cumin

 

METHOD

1. Fry the onions until they start turning golden. Then add garlic, chilies and ginger, and continue frying until the onions are brown.

2. Add tomatoes, the masala, and the other spices. Cook for a few minutes, and then add chickpeas. Cook for a further 10 min.

3. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve with rice and yogurt. Say yuuuuuum!

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Verdict:

This dish was delicious, and very easy to make. I shall definitely be making it again! Thank you, Mary!

I served it with my first attempt at making chapati, which is nothing to write about! I shall have to work on perfecting my chapati technique (a lot), and then I’ll share it with you!

 

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Other chana masala recipes:

Nabeela’s Chana Masala without the shop bought spice mix

Chana masala from Lisa’s Kitchen

How to make your own chana masala powder

Mahanandi’s Chana Masala

Meena’s Chana Masala, and a lesson on legumes

Another Meena’s Chana Masala, garnished with a funny story

Barbara’s Channa Masala

Sailu’s Chole Masala with Puri

Anita’s Punjabi Chhole

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 Other recipes with chick peas at Maninas:

My version of Catalan chick peas with tomatoes and almonds . V

This is a must-try, with its delicious flavours of saffron, garlic, tomatoes, almonds and coriander!

My Moroccan-inspired chickpeas  V

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