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We grew our own chickpeas (chana in Hindi) last summer, but not nearly enough to get us through winter. It’s a fact that you need a lot of land to grow a lot of chickpeas. I use Eden Foods brand organic canned chickpeas, or dried. I think Eden Foods is the best canned chickpeas around.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. A turkey will be served for the meat eaters, but for the herbivores of heightened consciousness (that sounds very, very smug), there will be other great food to enjoy. So here is one of my favorite holiday, protein-based Bihari foods – a simple but amazingly spicy and tangy mango (amchoor) tomato chickpea curry. It uses mango powder, which I always have a bag of in the cupboard. You can get amchoor powder at an Indian grocery or well-supplied health food shop.
Amchoor Chana (Chickpeas with Mango Powder)
1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas
2 tablespoons ghee or a mixture of butter and oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 - 3 black cardamom pods, crushed
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons mango (amchoor) powder
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 medium ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
Generous handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
1 small red onion or shallot, finely chopped
Rinse the chickpeas and soak overnight covered in several inches of water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a large saucepan and cover with several inches of fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until for 2 hours or until the chickpeas are soft. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid, and set aside.
Heat the ghee over medium heat in the same pan in which you cooked the chickpeas. When hot, add the cumin seeds, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks, and stir briskly for 1 minute. Add the ground spices, stir, and pour in the tomatoes. Cook, uncovered, stirring often, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes are reduced.
Add the chickpeas, the reserved cooking liquid, and half of the chopped parsley. Cover the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and season with salt.
Serve hot, garnished with the remaining parsley or cilantro and the chopped red onion or shallot.
If you’re into making life easier, just use the Eden Food canned chickpeas. In place of the cooking liquid, use the liquid from the can.