Chhole or Channa masala
Vegan, gluten-free. I like to think of chick peas as “premium carbs”, giving you quite a bang for you buck in terms of nutrient density. (The amount of nutrients and fiber per serving, relative to the calories per serving). Nutrient dense foods give you a hefty amount of nutrients, for relatively fewer calories.
Also called garbanzo beans, the authentic version of this universal favorite is made by soaking chickpeas overnight and pressure cooking them using a blend of aromatic spices. The posted recipe is the simpler, swifter version for those of you who are pressed for time like I am. The ginger-garlic paste and tamarind extract can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated. Growing up, my mom would serve these with bhaturas, which are enormous, puffy, deep-fried bread which melted in your mouth. Needless to mention, they were loaded with calories. As much as I believe that an occasional indulgence never hurts, if you wish to consume this delectable dish guilt-free, I would recommend using high fiber pita bread as an accompaniment instead.
Yield: 8, 1/2 cup servings
2 cans chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and drained
2 medium onions, pureed in blender or food processor + a few thinly sliced onion rings for garnish
1 large fresh tomato, coarsely chopped + ¼ cup pureed canned tomatoes
1 tsp ginger garlic paste (recipe follows)
3 tbsp. peanut oil
1” ball of tamarind soaked in 3 tbsp warm water
2 tbsp. prepared chhole masala* or to taste
Salt to taste
Chili powder ¾-1 tsp
Turmeric ¼ tsp
2 small sticks cinnamon
2 tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro
Wedge of fresh lime.
* Available at ethnic Indian groceries
- Heat peanut oil in a thick bottomed pan.
- Add cinnamon sticks and cloves. Wait for a few seconds, then add pureed onions to the pan, stirring constantly until the mixture loses its “raw” aroma and begins to look dry. This may take up to 10 minutes. Watch carefully for signs of burning and adjust heat as needed.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste, stirring continuously until well blended. Add chhole masala, chili powder and turmeric, stirring until well blended.
- Puree the fresh tomato in a blender. Add pureed fresh tomato as well as canned tomato puree, stirring until mixture forms a homogenous mass and the oil begins to separate from the sides of the pan.
- Now add rinsed chickpeas to the pan, stirring until coated with onion-tomato paste.
- Soak tamarind in about 3 tbsp of warm water for a few minutes. Gather up the tamarind and using the fingers and palm of the hand, squeeze tightly, to extract the juice into a small bowl. Refrigerate the remaining tamarind in a small, glass, air-tight container. ( Will last for up to 1-2 weeks depending upon humidity).
- Add 2 tbsp of the tamarind extract from step 6 to the chickpeas, stirring well.
- Add 1.5 cups of boiling water and salt to the pan. Bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Turn down the heat and allow to simmer on low heat for an additional 10 minutes until a thick gravy forms.
- Adjust for seasonings and serve hot, garnished with fresh chopped cilantro, sliced onion rings and a wedge of lime.
RD tip: Chickpeas, like most legumes are a powerhouse of nutrients, providing a whopping 6 -7 grams of fiber for every ½ cup cooked, along with protein, potassium, magnesium and folate. Chickpeas are also very filling, making them a great option if you are trying to lose weight.
Ginger garlic paste:
1 whole garlic pod
3” piece of ginger
½ cup or a palmful of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
- Peel garlic cloves.
- Peel ginger and blend with garlic, cilantro and about ¼ cup tap water until blended to a smooth paste.
- Store chilled in a refrigerator in an airtight glass container for up to 2 weeks.
Diabetic exchanges, per 1/2 cup serving: 1 carb exchange, 1 fat exchange, 1/2 a protein exchange.