This recipe comes from my home town of Calcutta. Black chickpeas, also known as Bengal gram, are a staple food in Calcutta. They are sold in many ways: as whole roasted cruncy nibblets, in tangy street salads with cucumber, onion and cumin, as a spicy curry. They are also added to simple vegetable preparations of eggplant, pumpkin and greens for depth and nourishment. Here I'm featuring one of my beloved preparations of this chickpea. —CalcuttaChow
black chickpeas, known as kala chana
onions, finely chopped
a small handful of coriander leaves, chopped
dry mango powder, called amchur
cayenne pepper powder, optional
salt to taste
In This Recipe
Soak the black chickpeas (kala chana) overnight (6-12 hours). Discard the water, and place in the pressure cooker. Fill with water that is a 1/2 inch above the chana. Cook until soft. Usually 4 whistles on medium heat work or 2 whistles on medium heat, combined with 15-20 minutes of cooking thereafter on low heat. Set the cooker aside and allow steam to escape. Drain the chickpeas and save the liquid for cooking.
Next, heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the onions first with the bay leaf, and cook until golden-brown, stirring frequently. Next, add the chopped ginger and garlic and fry for a few minutes, taking care that the ginger and garlic don’t burn.
Add the chopped tomatoes along with all the dry spices. Mix well and cook until the oil floats on top, stirring frequently. This takes a while.
Add the boiled chana, some of the reserved liquid, and the chopped coriander. Simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot with rice or Indian bread.