Kala chana or black chick peas are smaller than the white ones and readily available in any Indian store. The chick peas are actually dark brown and remain firm even after cooking that is to say they have a bite. Being rich in protein, they are a wonderful addition to any meal. Both recipes are great for snacking.
When soaking the chick peas, add a teaspoon of turmeric, that way they retain a rich golden brown colour. After soaking them in water for 8 hours or more, you need to cook them either on stove top (probably upwards of an hour) or pressure cook for 4 or 5 whistles. Make sure you add salt to the chana prior to cooking. A cup of dry black chana, would yield sufficient quantity for four adults.
This is a very popular snack particularly in South India. Black chana are considered auspicious and sometimes it is made in temples as prasadam too. (Prasadam is vegetarian food that is a religious offering in both Hinduism and Sikhism.)
2 cups cooked kala chana (soaked and cooked as per above recommendation)
Lemon juice to finish off
For the seasoning (popu):
2 teaspoons sunflower oil or other neutral oil
1 teaspoon urad dhal
2 dried red chillies
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
A pinch of hing or asafoetida
¼ teaspoon or to your taste chilli powder.
A sprig of curry leaves
Heat a kadai or a saucepan with a lid. Add all the popu ingredients except curry leaves and leave on low heat for 2-3 minutes until you hear the spices sizzling or cracking. You can cover with a lid if you want to avoid spattering. When you hear a continuous popping, toss the curry leaves and fry for 30 seconds before adding cooked chana. Allow in the heat through for five minutes. Before serving, squeeze in the lemon juice.
KALA CHANA SALSA
2 cups cooked kala chana
150 grams red onion, finely chopped
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
150 grams tomato, deseeded and finely diced
A generous handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped
½ to 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Add lemon juice and salt to onion. Set aside for about 30 minutes to soften the raw flavour. Add the remaining ingredients – chana, finely diced chillies, tomatoes and coriander and serve immediately.