A long time back when I was in school, we used to have these 15-min breaks at around 10.30 am (school used to start at 7.30 am) and they used to serve healthy quick to eat snacks in the break. The Kala channas or as they are colloquially known, ghoda channas (they used to also be used as feed for horses, high in protein) used to be a staple, sometimes served as sprouts garnished with cucumber /onions/tomatoes/green chillies/a dash of lemon juice and sometimes cooked, spicy, tangy and most of all piping hot. I think of the two, I preferred the cooked one, so that is the recipe I am sharing here today.
This is a versatile recipe, in that, you can opt to make it gravy, dry or even use it as a soup, slightly broth-ish in character, but a power-packed one at that. One word of warning, though, this does take time to cook.
Total cooking time: ~ 1 hr
Kala Channa: 1 standard katori (abt 150-200 gm)
Onions: 2 medium, peeled finely chopped
Garlic: 2 cloves, peeled, finely chopped
Ginger: 1″ peeled, finely chopped
Green chillies: 1 medium finely diced
Oil: 1 tsp (for roasting the onions)
Garam masala: 1/4 tsp
Red chilli powder: 1/4 tsp (or as preferred, but remember too spicy food not good for the tummy)
Roasted, ground Cumin seed (bhuna jeera pissa): 1/2 tsp
Ground Cumin seed (Jeera pissa): 1/4 tsp
Corriander Powder (Dhania): 1/2 tsp
Dry mango powder (amchoor): 1/2 tsp
Coriander for the garnish
Wash the Channa and leave to soak in container overnight. Next morning, wash again; pour into pressure cooker and cover with water, water level should be 1-1.5″ above chanas, add some of the diced ginger. Close pressure cooker lid, place on high flame, wait till the steam starts escaping from the cooker’s control/weight nozzle, and then place control/weight over nozzle. Wait until the cooker whistles, then turn down flame and let cook on simmer/low flame for another 15-20 mins.
Once the time is up, turn off flame, wait for cooker to cool down naturally (if you are in a raging hurry, you could take the cooker to the sink and turn on the tap to release the steam/pressure inside–do not make this standard practice as this degrades the rubber gasket). Open lid, the channas should be cooked but not mashed (when you squeeze one between thumb and forefinger, it should give easily). Drain out most of the liquid-would be slightly blackish in color – reserving say about a glass. (Channa are not just loaded with proteins, they are also high in iron, hence the blackish liquid)
Wash pressure cooker, put back on flame, allow to dry. Once Pressure cooker is dry, spoon in the cumin seeds and allow to roast (dry roast without oil); The seeds will turn brown and start to crackle, once that happens, add the diced onions and garlic, add the oil and roast, initially on high flame stirring frequently for about 2 mins, then reduce flame and continue to roast. The trick with most Punjabi/North Indian dishes is the masala and this needs to be well roasted, sorry folks, no shortcuts here 😦 !
Masala is roasted when the onion-garlic mixture turns brownish, add in the dry spices, starting with the coriander powder, sprinkle powder over the masala, stir in well, allow to cook for about 45 secs on low flame, add in red chillies, repeat above steps, add in Cumin powder, repeat above, now add in roasted cumin powder, add a tbsp of water from that 1 glass kept aside, stir, roast for another 1.5 mins, now add the pressure cooked Channa, add salt to taste, add the glass of water, bring to boil, stir well once more and close pressure cooker lid, wait for cooker to steam, put weight/whistle on, let it whistle once, turn down flame and let cook on reduced flame for another 10-15 mins.
It is your preference whether you want the Channa to have gravy or be completely dry, if the latter, increase cooking time to 15-20 mins. Turn off gas after that time, allow to cool.
Once cooled, open lid and check, (if too much liquid remains, allow to simmer uncovered for some more time, till desired liquid quantity is achieved. Once that is done, sprinkle amchoor (dry mango) powder, and allow 1 partial boil. Turn off gas, pour into a bowl and set aside.
For the garnish, dice onions fine, chop coriander and green chilies, and squeeze some lime juice on the Channa. You can also crumble some paneer (cottage cheese) and sprinkle on top with the coriander/chillies. Serve hot.
The dry version is good by itself as a power-packed snack, or with meals, the gravy one can be had with rotis/rice.