Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Channa (chickpeas)

This is the first dish I remember cooking publicly.  We were cooking food from around the world in home economics. It made sense to me to cook something indian so this what I made with some roti for everyone in the class to sample.

You can buy dried chickpeas in most English supermarkets and in indian shops.

I tend to cook this vegan and serve with naan bread or butura (fried version of naan bread) which is really fluffy and yummy.

You can also decide to make this dish Sathvick just remove the onions, it takes on a whole new flavour complex.

Ingredients for serving 4

  • I cup dried chickpeas These are best soaked in double their volume of water together overnight.
Tarka - We cook the channa and tarka separately and then combine them.
  • 3tbsp Light olive oil 
  • 1/2 Chopped onion
  • 1" fresh ginger peeled and finely chopped/ grated
  • 1 -2 fresh green chilli's chopped (the more you put in the hotter it gets)  Optional
  • 1/2 tin tomatoes or 2 fresh tomatoes chopped  - optional
  • 1tbsp tomato puree -optional
  • 1-2 tsp Cumin/ Jeera
  • 1/2 tsp Oragano seeds/ Ajowan seeds (optional)
  • 1-2 tsp Channa masala (if you can't get this add garam masala and something sour like amchur (mango powder) or crushed anardanna (dried pomegranate seeds)
  • 1 tsp Turmeric/ Haldi
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Hand full of fresh chopped coriander
  • 1-2tsp dry roasted cumin, pounded to a powder


  1. If you can't soak the chickpeas overnight, then soak in boiling hot water for a couple of hours or pressure cook for 10mins and then go to 3.  I think it is best cooked slowly in a pan, but if your short of time, then you have the choice.
  2. Wash your soaked chickpeas and add to a thick based pan, and top up with 3" or 8cm boiling water from kettle (this just speeds up the cooking). Cover and set it going at a rolling boil so the beans will boil and cook but not boil over.  It takes about 30-40mins for them to cook if they have been soaked.  Cooking them further will only improve the dish. This dish can be served as soupy or as thick as you like so just add water and continue accordantly  When your chick peas are cooked use your ladle to mash a bit to help thicken it. Keep stirring occasionally. While these are cooking we can cook our Tarka.
  3. In a second pan add your oil, set the pan at a slow heat this is the secret to good tasting Indian cooking, this recipe is very similar to other daal recipes given.  Add your cumin seeds and ajowan seeds, when they begin to crackle add your onion.
  4. Cook the onion till it is light brown and then add your ginger and chilli, stirring frequently.
  5. Continue to cook this till the ginger is brown too, if the ginger starts to stick to the pan just add a couple of tea spoons of water and stir until it comes free.
  6. Once the mix is caramel coloured, add your dry spices and salt and tomatoes and tomato puree, you have now made your tarka.
  7. Continue to cook this for a few more minutes until it is bubbling together nicely and the tomatoes have started breaking down, then add the tarka to your channa pot!  Add a little of the chickpea liquor to your tarka pan to make sure you get all the yummy spices and oil off and add back to the daal pot.
  8. I like to cook my chickpeas for a good couple of hours in total, but it can cook in as little as one hour or even less if you are using tinned chickpeas.  It won't do it any harm for longer cooking, just make sure you don't forget to stir.  Taste it and add more salt if you like more.
  9. Last stage is to add your coriander, garnish with roasted cumin powder and serve with naan or butura, enjoy! 

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