We are headlong into festival mode here in India since August. There was Raksha Bandhan, followed by Krishna Jayanti, Ganesh Chaturthi, and a week from now it is going to be nine days and nights of celebrating women power, in the form of various Godesses of Hinduism. That is the core.
A festival is never without it’s specific delicacies. Each of these nine days South-Indians make a sweet and savoury offering (prasad / naivedyam) to nine deities, one, each day. We usually make various types of ‘chundal’. Chundal (or sundal) translates in English as ‘stir-fried’. Each day we stir-fry one legume, smattering it generously with fresh coconut, season it and offer. The legumes commonly used are konda kadalai (kabuli chana), kadala paruppu (bengal gram), pataani (dry peas), and verakadalai (peanuts). With migration to North India and other regions, chundal soon included sabut moong (mung beans) and kala chana (black chickpeas).
Black chickpeas is basically a product of the North of India and is now easily available down South too. It looks similar to kabuli chana (chickpeas) but it has black skin. Like the former it is a dried legume that needs to be soaked overnight to allow softening before cooking. I use a pressure cooker, as it saves time.
Just two weeks back I received a mail asking how these are cooked. I understand it can be found abroad in Asian grocery stores. Here is a beginner’s recipe – simple, easy and delicious. It can be served as an appetizer as well a side dish with rice and gravy. We serve it with rasam, and with rice and curd (vegan recipe here) . Since it is a heavy protein, I would not serve it with sambar, which is also legume based.
Cooking can’t get simpler than this!
Recipe: Kala chana chundal / Black chickpea stir-fry with coconuts
Yield: Serves 5 portions
Black chickpeas, dried / Kala chana – 250g
Coconut, freshly grated – 1/2 cup, level
Green chillies – 2
Fine ground sea salt – to taste
Coconut oil (or any neutral oil) – 1 tsp.
Mustard seeds / rai – 1 tsp.
Husked, split, black gram dal / urad dal – 1/2 tsp.
Curry leaves, 1 sprig, trimmed and cut into ribbons (optional)
Soak the legumes overnight or for 5-6 hours. Rinse and drain water. Pressure cook adding enough water to cover the legumes, and a little salt on high for 3 whistles. Further, cook on reduced heat for five minutes. Let cool naturally, before opening to he cooker. Some beans that are really hard call for cooking on low flame for nearly 10 minutes. This is where I find organic legumes better. Drain cooked legumes in a colander.
Heat a wok. Pour oil, and when hot add mustard seeds. When these pop, add black gram dal followed by curry leaves and drained chickpeas.
Saute on high flame till all residual liquid dries. Smash a teaspoon of coconut with green chillies. Add this and the remaining coconut to the chickpea saute.
Mix well and serve with rice, and rasam or vegan-dahi.