If you’ve read my saga of apartment-hunting, you’ll know that one of the reasons I wanted my current apartment was that it has a real kitchen, not a closet masquerading as one. The irony has been that the much-coveted space has gotten less use than I had planned, thanks to all the take-out places, meals eaten out with friends, and heaps of leftovers. When you add the fact that I am an eccentric cook who was raised to be ashamed of needing recipes, everything I make tastes different from the last time I made it.
So as a reminder to myself about why tonight’s chickpeas turned out so well, and as a reminder to myself to eat in more often, I thought I’d write down my (gasp!) recipe for pindi chana:
32 oz. can of Goya chickpeas,
½ medium onion, chopped
2 tbs of olive oil
½ tbs garam masala powder (cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, coriander seed, poppy seed, bay leaf, cloves, fennel seeds, dried lichen/“dagad phool”; freshly ground is ideal)*
2 tsp of choley/chana masala (found in any Indian grocery store. It’s not imperative but if you can find a brand that has pomegranate seeds, you can claim to have made “pindi chana”)
2 tsp of red chili powder
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste
Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, add cumin and sauté for a minute just till it changes color, then add the onions. Sauté till they are a deep golden yellow, stirring often. In the meanwhile, drain most of the canned liquid from the chickpeas, reserving about half a cup. Rinse the chickpeas well and add to the onions. Add the turmeric and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the rest of the spices and salt. Sauté the chickpeas for several minutes to allow the masalas to cook and adhere to the peas. Add reserved liquid and keep adding a few tablespoons of water every few seconds while stirring (as one might for polenta). After about five minutes, you can add up to a cup and a half of water depending on how saucy you would like the dish to be. Add salt if needed. Serve hot over rice or with bread (leavened or unleavened).
I used to make this with tomatoes but on my recent trip to India, I ate some pindi chana in Agra and had to look it up. Turns out, unlike cholé/chana masala, pindi chana shuns tomatoes. So there it is.
* These tbps/tsps amounts for spices are all estimates after the fact. So it’s not quite a recipe after all!