Amritsari Channe

Amritsari Channe

Amritsari Channe

I am fretting and fussin over a name. An apt name for this wonderfully aromatic royal north Indian beans usually eaten with puffed deep fried pooris or bhaturas. They are made in a host of different ways hence we have names for every kind.

What I have here is a dark semi thick gravied version, usually made in Punjab, a northern state in India. Lot of spices are used, some whole, some ground. The end result is spicy, earthy and extremely flavorful. Love for these beans is eternal in my house. They sit happily waiting for their meal to arrive! Bliss, when you have happy faces to feed.

Over the years I’ve had little problem with Chickpeas. They usually turn out well. Having changed recipes several times, and now finally zeroed in on a cross between a couple of formulas, my tryst with these beans is here to stay.

With bread and salad

With bread and salad

My grouse lately is what to accompany this curry with. Traditional pooris and other deep fried stuff is out of our menu. Husband is happy with plain old chappathis. But I find it almost belittling to serve this curry with phulkas… just doesn’t seem right. Bread or ready made whole wheat kulchas are a better option. They somehow justify this royal dish 🙂

With rice, papad and salad

With rice, papad and salad

For me, I almost always make some rice. Chole chawal is a regular in many north Indian homes. Roast a papad, cut up some salad, drizzle salt and lime juice – and you have a very tempting plate in your hands!

Works like magic

Works like magic

Chickpeas are usually white to light brown in color, and post boiling they turn a pale yellow. So, to deepen/darken the gravy, we have a very rustic old way to do so. A spoon full of tea leaves bundled in muslin cloth is dropped into the pot of boiling chickpeas. This darkens the beans and imparts an earthy flavor to the gravy. Mother also added whole spices into the bundle sometimes. Made it easier for her to remove the spices after their work was done, she says.

Ideal for anytime

Ideal for anytime

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 and half cups kabuli channa or dried big chickpeas, soaked overnight.
  • 2-3 tbsp channa dal, soaked along with the chickpeas
  • 2 tsp ghee or oil
  • 2 whole cardamoms,
  • 1 bay leaf, 2/3 cloves, a small stick cinnamon
  • 3 garlic pods
  • a tiny piece of ginger
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup leaves of mint and coriander leaves
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, ground
  • 1 tsp anardana or dried pomegranate seeds
  • 3 tsp chole masala, store brought or home made
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp tea leaves tied in a muslin cloth
  • Garnish: Julienned ginger, onions, tomatoes, french fries and coriander leaves – optional.

Method

Boil chickpeas and channa dal along with the bag of tea leaves, crushed garlic and salt. Keep aside.
Grind chopped onions, ginger and leaves of mint and coriander to a fine smooth paste.

In a big wok, heat ghee or oil. Throw the whole spices – bay leaf, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. Saute for a minute. Add and fry the onion-coriander mint paste till the oil leaves sides. To this add ground tomatoes along with anardana, chole masala, coriander powder and red chili powder. Mix well and fry the paste very well till the fat separates. Now mix in the boiled chickpeas. Give it a final mix and boil. Garnish.

Serve with pooris/bhature/bread/kulchas/rice.

For the calorie conscious!

For the calorie conscious!

Note: You can add the whole spices while boiling the chickpeas.

Note: Oil or any butter can be used, but I prefer ghee. It adds to the aroma and richness of the dish.

I love my rice!

I love my rice!

Comin back to the name. Ah a name! Since the method leans more towards the ambarsariya kinds, mother advised me to call it Amritsari Channe. And so I do as I am told. Its mothers day after all. 🙂

Punjabi tadka

Punjabi tadka

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Pooris / Deep Fried Indian Bread

Most houses celebrate special days in a signature trademark way. Mine is no exception. Festivals, birthdays, poojas and various other special events brings back memories of a lot of noise – decorations – flowers and food! Glorious Food!
I can almost see my mother fry pooris and make gorgeous halwa. And I almost hear her say ‘Kadai shubh mauke pe chadai jaati hai’, an auspicious day calls for putting that oil filled wok on fire.

Kheer Puri chole for Lunch

Kheer Puri chole for Lunch

So, in essence, my most memorable days of celebrating birthdays and festivals included me gorging on deep fried pooris with alu(potato) or chole(chickpeas) and lick bowl full of decadent halwas n kheer. In case you are wondering, I am still battling my baby fat 😉

Deep Fried Puffed Flatbread

Deep Fried Puffed Flatbread

But then marriage happened and I got to see his side of conviviality. The festivities were an eye opener. I never imagined things to be so distinctly different in other houses… Naive? Yes.
The celebrations in his house were such a dampner that my over enthusiastic spirit took a blow in the very first instant itself.
His home housed 4 boys. Morbid, serious, sobre and very very health conscious boys. They never fried. Special days were as good as any other day. None of the noise or food or spirit that I grew up with.

Whole wheat Flour - Atta

Whole wheat Flour – Atta

The husband always grumbles when I fry something. Especially Pooris. He dislikes them. It’s oily, Its deep fried, It’s not good for health… the complaints are many.
“Its only once in a while” argument has no takers in my little fussy home. Daughter follows father’s footsteps, and declares that she is not too fond of all things ‘deep fried’.
I’d like to believe she is just imitating him, but if only she was like me in some ways. Sigh.

A basket of smiles

A basket of smiles – for me

But dear readers, I do what I have to do. In spite of their protests, I fry. In an effort to make them respect every one’s wishes, likes-dislikes and in some hope of getting them to acquire the taste(Ha! As if its’s beer), pooris are made.
Demanding to like what I like, doesn’t work. Coercion at gun point does. 😉 But I take such liberties just once in a blue moon, literally. I can count the number of times I ventured into Poori making in all my 10 years of married life – 10 times. Really.
So, usually-mostly-always I mess the making of these puffed breads.

Channa Masala as accompaniment

Channa Masala as accompaniment

Not this time. I made sure the dough is stiff and firm, the oil hot enough and my rolling skills a little better than before. 🙂

Adding carrom seeds or ajwain to the flour, enhances the flavor and digestive properties of the bread. This dried herb is the show stealer according to me.

Carrom Seeds or Ajwain

Carrom Seeds or Ajwain

Now for the Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour or atta
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp carrom seeds or ajwain
  • luke warm water, enough to bind.
  • 1 tsp oil, to knead
  • Oil, to deep fry

Method

To the flour, add salt and carrom seeds. Using luke warm water, bind into a stiff firm dough. The dough should be soft enough to roll our without needing to dust it with flour. Using little oil, knead again. Cover and keep aside for 30 minutes.

When ready to fry. Put an oil filled wok on heat. Grab walnut sized portions from the dough. Roll out into small flat rounds, around 2 to 2.5 inch diameter. Care not to make it too thin, else the pooris will not rise and puff.

Now, the oil should not be smoking hot, just hot enough for the rounds to rise up when dropped in oil. If the oil is very hot, the pooris darken immediately. Using a slotted ladle, gently fry one side, then the other and remove on absorbent paper once done. Repeat with the other rounds.

Festive Food

Festive Food

It looks simple, and once you are familiar with the technique it is a breeze. But I learnt this the hard way. I have messed it enough times to tell you the Do’s and Don’ts.

  • The dough should be stiff because if it is softer, you would need to use flour and when frying the pooris, the excess flour will settle in the oil and burn causing the pooris to get coated with black specks.
  • The second reason is that the pooris would absorb more oil and become greasy. A good poori should barely show traces of oil on itself, after being deep-fried.
  • If the oil is too hot the pooris will not puff up and become flat, crisp and very brown.
  • If the oil is not hot enough the pooris will not puff up and will be very greasy.

I pack Chole and puri in her lunch box. And its empty when she comes home.
I’m pleased as a punch, only till I hear, “Sanjana loved your pooris Ma”. Sanjana? Huh? What did you eat? “Her bhindi roti”, pat comes the reply.