Sunday, November 18, 2007

Chole Pindi (Fragrant Chick Peas Stew With Salad)

Chole Pindi with Salad, Broccoli, and Roti with butter

This chole reminds me of the ugly duckling; it looks brown and not as robust as choles with tomatoes and onions. But one taste will convince you that it is a glorious swan! Another reminder that one should not judge anything just by its appearance alone :-).

This dish can be prepared with the white chick peas also known as 'Kabuli Chana' or Garbanzo Beans or the Indian brown ones known as Bengal Gram or Kala Chana. The freshly roasted spices transport the simple chick peas to another dimension altogether, mmm!! Do include the ghee if at all possible because it adds its incredible magic flavor with just the two tablespoons. Since it is made without garlic or onions, it is a no-tears recipe fit for special occasions which call for Satvic dishes too. Now that I have perfected this chole, I hardly ever want to make the other kinds!

Ingredients:

2 cups Chick Peas, soak in plenty of water overnight OR in very hot water for 2 hours
1 teaspoons Salt
1 Bay leaf
1 Brown Cardamom
1 Cinnamon Stick
4 Cloves

Roast lightly the 3 spices below in a dry skillet and grind to a powder:

1 Tablespoon dried Pomegranate Seeds (anar dana) (Optional)
1 Tablespoon Cumin Seeds
1 teaspoon Whole Black Peppercorns

1 tsp Salt
2 Tablespoons ground Coriander Seeds
1 to 2 Tablespoons Dried Mango powder (Aamchoor)
1 teaspoon Garam Masala (any Brand)
2 hot Green chilies, deseeded and minced
1 to 2 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger, grated
2 Tablespoons Ghee (or unsalted butter)
2 Tablespoons Oil

Method:

Drain, rinse and cook the chick peas in a large pot with the salt and spices and water to cover until they are very soft. Alternately cook them in a pressure cooker according to manufacturer's directions. Set aside.

Prepare the roasted spices and grind them in a small grinder or using a mortar and pestle.

Remove the bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves from the chick peas and discard. Drain off the cooking fluid and reserve. Sprinkle the salt, roasted spices, ground coriander seeds, garam masala, and mango powder over the chick peas and stir well to combine. Place the ginger and green chilies on top. In a small pan, heat the ghee and oil until hot and pour over the ginger and green chilies. Pour in the desired quantity of the reserved cooking fluid and simmer stirring occasionally until thickened slightly (about 10 minutes). Let it rest for about 5 minutes.

Serve hot garnished with the salad. Chole Pindi is great served with rice or any wholegrain roti (Indian flat breads such as Chapati, Nan, Paratha, Pooris, etc) or even on its own. Chole is even better the next day and also freezes well.

Salad:

2 large, ripe Tomatoes
1 medium Red Onion
1 medium Cucumber
2 Green Jalapeno Chilies, deseeded (optional)
1 small bunch Fresh Cilantro
1 or 2 Limes or Lemons

Peel and thinly slice the red onion and mix with juice from half a lime and a pinch or two of salt. Set aside. Thinly slice the tomatoes, cucumber, and chilies and arrange them on a plate with the marinated onions. Wash the cilantro well and chop. Sprinkle the cilantro on top of the veggies. Squeeze the other half of the lime over all. Cut the one remaining lime into wedges and arrange on the platter for the individual diners to squeeze over the food as desired.

Serves 6 as a main dish

Note: The brown chick peas are wonderfully flavorful, retain their shape and/but do not get soft like the regular chick peas. Small cubes of lightly browned paneer (Indian cheese) or potatoes may be stirred in before serving. Paneer and all the other ingredients are readily available in Indian markets.

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