Kala Chana (Black Chickpea) with Poppy Seeds and Mint

6 Dec

Surplus coaxes us towards invention as much as scarcity. I hate to throw food items away and equally hate to have them beyond their "best before" dates. So I’m using up my pack of poppy seeds that’s dangerously close to expiry in varied ways . Ditto for my bunch of fresh mint leaves. I used some in pudina chutney last night when the mint was freshly plucked – the rest went into this kala chana recipe.

How awesome it is when untried combinations of flavours turn out well.

Kala chana, in case you haven’t eaten it before, is a "desi" variety of chickpea (as opposed to the Kabuli variety). Kala chana is smaller than Kabuli chana and has a dark-brown coat on it. It has a more "dense" taste than regular chickpeas and is often cooked in combination with other vegetables like brinjal or potatoes.

You Need:

  • Kala channa – 2 cups
  • Poppy seeds – 2 tablespoons
  • Mint leaves – 1/2 cup, chopped
  • Ginger – 1-inch piece
  • Garlic – 6 cloves
  • Green chili – 1
  • Turmeric powder – a pinch
  • Chana masala – 1 tablespoon (I used MDH chana masala)
  • Salt – to taste
  • Mustard or vegetable oil – 2 teaspoons

How To:

Boil the chana

Soak 2 cups of kala chana in 6 cups of water overnight.

Pressure cook the kala chana with 4 cups of water and a pinch of salt for 20 minutes – on high flame till the first whistle, on low flame after that.

Let the pressure release naturally. While the cooker cools, make the masala.

Make the masala

Soak poppy seeds in two tablespoons of water for 30 minutes.

Grind together ginger, garlic, green chili and poppy seeds into a paste. Well, poppy seeds REFUSE to get ground fully no matter what, so get them as fine as you possibly can. I run the grinder for a number of cycles.

Put it all together

Heat two teaspoons of oil in a pan. When hot, add the masala paste and fry it till it turns golden brown [4-5 minutes]. Add a pinch of turmeric powder and a tablespoon of chana masala powder, continue frying till little bubbles begin to escape from the masala paste [2-3 minutes]. It’s more usual to say "till the oil separates from the pan" but in low-oil recipes, it’s not easy to see that happen – just look for an even color – no strains of raw turmeric powder should be visible.

Another risk when you use very little oil – the masala might burn. What’s the cure?

(1) Be extra-vigilant – don’t leave the pan unattended when the masala is on the fire. (2) If you feel the masala sticking to the pan, add a teaspoon or two of the water in which chana was cooked to soften it.

When the masala is done, turn the cooked kala chana along with the water in which it was cooked, plus chopped mint leaves, into the pan. Give it a good stir and cook covered on low flame for 15 minutes, stirring 2-3 in between.

To Serve:

Let kala chana stand covered for another 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and (if you like it hot) finely chopped green chilies. Serve with jeera rice or parathas.

Kala Chana with Poppy Seeds and Mint

One Response to “Kala Chana (Black Chickpea) with Poppy Seeds and Mint”

  1. Tadka Pasta December 9, 2011 at 10:59 PM #

    This looks like a nice change from the usual onion-tomato chane. I love how you’ve used mint and poppy seeds. Must check the date on my pack too..

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