Channa Masala

This is a quick and easy version of a street food classic.  Recipes across India will vary but one ingredient remains constant – black chickpeas or “Kala Channa”.  You can buy black chickpeas from all Indian grocery shops and usually also in the world food aisle of supermarkets.  I would suggest using the tinned versions because the dried peas need soaking overnight and then boiling til tender which is a long process.  If you opt for the latter route, boil up a large amount and then freeze them in portion sizes.

You’ll need the following for 2 hungry people as a main course

  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1.5 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder or chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 x 400g tin black chickpeas
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1 tbsp grated jaggery or one 1 level tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp amchur (dried mango powder) – optional
  • 5 sprigs fresh coriander , chopped

To make it

  1. Puree the chopped tomatoes and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan that has a lid. You need to heat it until a mustard seed starts to fizzle and pop so the best way to know is add a few seeds, wait, add a few more, wait. If they fizzle and pop then add the rest of the seeds, cumin seeds and bay leaves in quick succession and give the pan a little shake so they’ve all had a chance to pop.
  3. Add the onions and stir til they are evenly coated in the oil.
  4. Add the dry spices and salt with a few tbsp of water and stir with a fork til everything is evenly distributed.  Don’t use a wooden spoon as the spices will stick to it.
  5. Cover and leave on a very low heat for 5 minutes.  The onions will be soft and the spices will not be powdery to taste.
  6. Add the pureed tomatoes, chickpeas and jaggery or sugar stir well.
  7. Cover and leave for 15 minutes then turn off the heat, add the lemon juice and amchur and stir well.
  8. Finally garnish with the fresh coriander and serve with plain rice, naan bread or on top of a thick slice of toasted sourdough bread.

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