Dec 24, 2008

Hot Chana and Puri

I'm playing around with blog formatting, especially since I'm turning emails into blogs. If you have any comments on preferred formats, please let me know

(originally emailed April 30, 2008)

Photo: Hot Chana with Moghlai Spinach, basmati rice, and storebought 'naan'

I thought that I might not send out a recipe this week because I haven't been particularly inspired lately. But then I ate dinner tonight, and it was delicious, so you're hearing about it.

Kyle and I bought a vegetarian indian cookbook a while ago but we've been intimidated by it because the recipes are written in a funny format. Once we started cooking from it, however, we found out that it's actually quite easy and the food is good. We picked a meal called "hot chana" (Chickpeas with very hot spices), because we both love ordering chana masala from indian food restaurants. However, we were supposed to make it last week and I just kept putting it off because we also decided to make a flatbread and for some reason I thought it would be a lot of effort. Well we had to make it today because it's the last meal on our "weekly schedule" of meals, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did it take less than 1hr to prepare (including 1/2 hour sit time for the flatbread), but it was also delicious and tasted like actual Indian food (always exciting). And because I made use of one of my 2 new cilantro tricks, I'm going to share those with you too. I find that one bunch of cilantro is too much to use up before it goes rotten, so I've tried to find things to do with it to avoid wasting. (tricks to follow in a different post)

We had this meal with a Puri (fried, puffed whole wheat flat bread), which was a new one for us. I started cooking chickpea flour pancakes with our Indian meals, but chickpeas with chickpea flour pancakes? It's a bit much.

The hot chana meal + flatbreads was a good amount for 2 people, but we've already figured we're going to be hungry in a couple hours. It would have been nice to round it off with some sort of green veggie, and maybe a potato dish if we were feeling particularly ambitious. In the future I will probably share a spinach recipe (David showed us this one - it's GOOD), and a potato recipe from this veg indian cookbook.

Photo: Hot Channa with the lazy version of naan (recipe to be posted at a later date)

Hot Chana (chickpeas with spices)
Effort: easy
Ingredients: semi-easy. It calls for black mustard seeds which I can't find anywhere. And hing, which I also can't find. But I just use normal mustard seeds (bulk barn), and omit hing.
Cookbook: Indian vegetarian cooking in your home
1 Tbsp veg oil
1 tsp cumin seed/mustard seed/sesame see mix
1/4 cup onion, chopped
3 Indian bay leaves (I used regular bay leaves)
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (or 2 cilantro cubes, as I used)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/8 cup veg broth
1. Put onion, bay leaves, cilantro and garlic in a bowl.
2. Put cumin, coriander, salt, red pepper, tumeric and garam masala in another bowl
3. Rinse chickpeas
4. Heat oil, cumin/mustard/sesamee seed mixture in a pan until seeds pop.
5. Add onion bowl and cook until onions transparent.
6. Add spice bowl, followed by chickpeas and veg broth.
7. Mix (simmer if desired), and serve.

The chana recipe recommended serving with puri (below), although rice and/or other breads could work. I tend to eat this along dish with another Indian meal, such as Shahi Paneer, Moghlai Spinach, or Potatoes.

Puri (whole wheat flat bread)
Effort: easy
Ingredients: easy if you're willing to substitute
cookbook: Indian Vegetarian Cooking at your house
1 cup (Indian) whole wheat flour (I used regular whole wheat flour and it was OK)
1/4 TBSP veg oil
dash salt
optional: dashes of cumin powder, coriander powder, hot pepper, tumeric
1/4 + a little bit extra warm water
1. Mix flour, oil and salt into a bowl. Slowly add water, just enough to form a firm dough, and knead until smooth. Cover and let rest at least 1/2 hour.
2. Knead dough briefly. Divide into small golf-ball sized balls. Roll out into 6" rounds on an oiled board. Heat veg oil in wok or frying pan. Add a little salt to oil to keep it from smoking.
3. Fry one puri at a time, holding them under oil on first side until they puff. Turn and fry until light brown, and drain on paper towels.

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