One of the oft repeated dishes at home has been a Rajasthani variation of a chickpea curry, using the smaller brown Bengal chickpeas. This variety of chickpea is smaller than the Mediterranean one with a brown skin that adds a lovely texture to the finished dish.
The recipe for Jaisalmer chana as the dish is referred to is a classic one with multiple variations of spice combinations. The constant ingredients however, are the brown chickpeas, and the gravy consisiting of a yogurt and chickpea flour (Besan) blend. I've deliberately worked my way through 3 different recipes in a search for my favorite. Recipes from Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, an old recipe book by Nita Mehta and the third by Tarla Dalal. Nita Mehta's recipe is delicious, but calls for a detailed list of dry whole spices that one may not have on hand every time. Tarla Dalal's recipe is a total disaster. Yes, I know I'm being blunt and may invite harsh comments and protests, but unfortunately the ingredient list is heavy on Chili peppers in 3 forms. (green chili ground to a paste with ginger, dried red chiles in the tempering (although these are the kashmiri chiles) and finally in the form of cayenne chili powder). While I pride myself of being capable of a high tolerance for chili pepper heat, her variation has no sense of balance with other spices. The finished product was rather inedible, despite using my discretion about the chili (I halved the amount), with no real sense of an integrated flavor profile.
Ultimately, I have to defer to Chef Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe for being the optimal version, given its choice of easily available ingredients and that crucial 'lip smacking' factor. I did take the liberty of adjusting the heat to accommodate kiddie palates and slightly varied the cooking technique.
Jaisalmeri Chana (recipe by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor)
|1 cup Black Bengal gram (kala chana), soaked overnight|
|1 cup Yogurt|
|2 tablespoons Gram flour (besan)|
|1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder|
|Salt to taste|
|1/2 Red chilli powder (adjust to taste)|
|2 teaspoons fresh crushed Coriander (lightly broken into halves)|
|1 teaspoon Garam masala powder|
|1 -2 Green chillies, minced|
|2 tablespoons ghee+ 2 tablespoons olive oil|
|1 pinch Asafoetida|
|1 teaspoon Cumin seeds|
|Fresh cilantro leaves,chopped for garnish|
Cook the soaked chickpeas in adequate water until soft, but not mushy. set aside , reserving the cooking liquid.
Whisk the yogurt with the chickpea flour, chili powder, and turmeric.
Heat the oil and ghee in a skillet and add the cumin seeds when the oil begins smoking. Once the cumin sputters, lower the heat and add the crushed coriander, garam masala, asafetida and the green chile. stir and allow the spices to bloom.
Add the chickpeas along with the cooking liquid and salt. Cover and simmer until the flavors have blended.
Add the yogurt blend to the chickpeas and cook on a low heat until the mixture barely begins to simmer gently (you do NOT want to allow the gravy to boil).
Remove from heat, transfer to a serving dish and garnish with cilantro. Serve warm with Roti or plain rice.