Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Aloo Chholay Chickpea and Potato Curry

This is a #whattodowithShanMasala recipe, meaning that it is required that you have Shan Chana Masala Mix (or your channa masala brand of choice) to make this recipe.

Alu chholay, a classic dish of Punjab. Serve this with roti, or even puris or kulchay. Make it thick or liquidy as per your taste, and if it has a wetter gravy, enjoy it with rice.

You may be wondering why Shan labels their mix chana (also spelled channa), but some people call this legume chhola (plural chholay). Chhola is the Punjabi word. This is what we call in English chickpea or garbanzo bean. To distinguish from the indigenous strain of desi chickpea, the channa daal with it's black outer skin, many people also call the larger, non-indigenous garbanzo Kabuli channa (channa from Kabul, Afghanistan) or safaid channa (white chickpeas).

Step one: Preparing the chholay

Chholay are best prepared in a pressure cooker, but can also be boiled in a regular pot. You will need:

1.5 cups of dried chickpeas
pinch of baking soda
1 black tea bag
1/2 tsp salt

Put your dried chickpeas in a deep bowl and wash them well. Cover them in double their amount of water. They will swell and grow as they rehydrate, so you want to make sure that they are in a deep enough amount of water. Add in 1 pinch of baking soda. This helps them soften when they soak and cook. Soak these at least 5 hours, or overnight.

When you are ready to prepare the chickpeas, strain them from the water. Never boil legumes in the water in which they have soaked, as all of the gas causing properties of the legumes will be in the water. It should be discarded (or used to water the plants or something). Put chickpeas in a pressure cooker with double the amount of water of the chickpeas. Add in the black tea bag and the salt. Cover and pressure cook them for about 25 minutes. In my Hawkins, it takes about 8 whistles and then low simmer for 10 minutes. Your pressure cooker cook time may vary.

When done, the chickpeas should be beautifully tender. Keep them aside with their cooking liquid, and discard the tea bag, which should have done its job of coloring the chholay. You will need the chickpeas separately from the cooking liquid, so when you are ready to cook, have the chickpeas strained, and keep the cooking liquid in another vessel.

You can also soak the chickpeas overnight and boil them (no salt) on the stove top for 45 mins to an hour. Add the salt when they are soft. OR you can use canned chickpeas. Canned don't have the fluffy, soft texture of rehydrated boiled chickpeas, though. It's up to you.

Step 2: The masala

1/4 cup cooking oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion chopped (lemon sized onion, or 1/2 American onion)
1 tbs garlic paste
1 tbs ginger paste
1 tsp red chile powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 cup roughly pureed tomatoes (or 2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped)
1 tbs Shan Chana Masala
3-4 small potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite sized cubes
1/2 tsp amchoor
1 tsp garam masala
salt to taste (+/- 1 tsp)

chopped green chiles and chopped cilantro


Heat oil in pan. Add in cumin seeds and allow them to color. Add in onions. Cook onions until they are translucent and turning golden, and browning a little bit on the outside. Don't let them become too brown or your curry gravy will be sweet. Add in the garlic and ginger when the onions are golden. Allow the garlic and ginger to color, then toss in the red chile powder, turmeric, coriander powder, and cumin powder. Allow this to sizzle for a second. Add in the tomato puree. Cook for a few moments until the tomatoes dry up a bit and the oil rises out of the masala paste. Add in the salt, then toss in the chickpeas that you had kept aside. Stir these for a few moments. Now, add in the Shan Chana Masala and stir well. Then, add in 1 cup of the chickpea cooking liquid. Allow this to come to a boil. Add in the chopped potatoes. Bring to a boil again. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes are completely done. When the cooking is done, turn off the flame and stir in the garam masala and amchoor. Cover and let this rest for 5 full minutes. The liquid will thicken at this point. If you want a wetter gravy, add in 1/2 cup or so more water. Stir in some cilantro, and then add more cilantro and chopped green chiles on the top of the dish.

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