Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chundal Or Shundal (Seasoned Peas/Beans Snacks)

Kollu Chundal
Chundals, whether sweet or savory, are delicious and delightful snacks that I recall fondly from my childhood days. They are a must for a festival called Nav Ratri (Nine Nights) or Dussera in Autumn akin to a combination of Halloween and Christmas traditions minus the costumes, tricks and Santa Claus.

Just as at Christmas time, South Indian people set up beautiful displays called "Kolu" with their collections of statues of deities, dolls, toys and decorations in their homes. At our aunt's house something new and elaborate would be created every year. Kolu time in our ancestral villages was more fun as there were many homes to visit close by and the families knew their neighbors for generations.

The children in the neighborhood had implicit invitations to visit the various homes every evening during the festival. We could barely wait for the festival to start so we could visit friends and neighbors, admire their beautiful decorations and express our enthusiastic exclamations of joy and wonder. A little consultation with the village children gave us clues as to exactly which house we should visit for the best decorations and just as important, the best treats :-)! Our contribution to the event was to recite any devotional songs/chants that we knew. After our little performance, we would receive a treat that was made as an offering that day - usually some type of savory or sweet chundal.

I am partial to the savory chundals, my all time favorite being brown chick pea chundal. Other whole beans or split legumes may also be used to make chundals. Dried peas and split legume chundals taste great with a squeeze of lime/lemon.

Although traditionally chundals are made with unsprouted dried legumes, I like to make them with sprouts also. If you have sprouts on hand, it takes just a few minutes to make nutritious and delicious chundal. One of my favorite childhood pastimes was to sit on the back porch steps with my bowl of chundal and toss an occasional bean/pea to the birds and watch them catch it in their beaks midflight :).

4 to 6 Servings of about 1/2 cup each

Ingredients:

1 cup dried Chick Peas (Indian brown or regular) or Dried whole peas, soaked and/or Sprouted
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1 pinch Turmeric

Thalippu/Tadka:
1 Tbsp Oil
2 dry Hot Red Chili, broken in half
1 Tbsp Urad Dal (Optional)
1 sprig Fresh Curry Leaves
1 pinch Asafoetida
2 Tbsp Fresh Coconut, cut into small pieces about the size of corn kernels

Method:

If using dried beans/peas, sort, wash and soak them for about 6 hours or overnight in plenty of fresh water; the soaked beans/peas swell to about 2 to 3 times their original size. Drain, rinse and cover with fresh water to cover. Bring to a boil, and simmer until soft but not mushy. Drain and cool; reserve the broth for soups - it is a rich source of soluble fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

If using sprouted beans, steam lightly if you wish or just use raw and cook for a few minutes with the seasonings.

Heat oil in a large Indian wok or skillet and add the mustard seeds, urad dal and red chili. When the mustard starts to pop and the dal is turning pink, stir in asafoetida. Quickly add the curry leaves and the cooked beans/peas or the raw sprouts and the coconut pieces. Heat stirring for a few minutes until dry and well mixed. (Add a pinch of turmeric and salt if using raw sprouts and cook until just tender).

Remove the chilies before serving so no one chews on them inadvertently; chilies, other whole spices, curry leaves, etc are not generally eaten unless the diner specifically wishes to do so.

Serve hot, warm or at room temperature with steaming mugs of Pudina Chai/Mint Tea Latte or Masala Chai or cool frosty glasses of the afore mentioned chai/teas or Iced Coffee. Chundal can be served as a side dish with a meal also with rice, breads, curries, etc.

In Chennai, India, the dried whole peas chundal is very popular; beach goers there are very familiar with the vendors' call for sampling their "Thenga, Manga, Pattani Chundal" which literally means "coconut, mango, peas chundal". So if making the dried peas chundal, you can stir in finely chopped green (unripe) mango and/or squeeze some lime juice before serving.

2 comments:

sheila said...

Brings childhood memories, when I lived in Bangalore, India.

Geetha said...

Hello Sheila: Thank you for your comments. It is fun to visit memory lanes, isn't it? - Geetha