Chana is the Indian name for chick pea or garbanzo bean. My recipe is inspired by a wonderful chick pea dish called Kaabli Chana that I order from Rotee Express, an Indian restaurant that I go to for lunch every now and then. This restaurant is conveniently located around the corner from my office on Howard and Spear in San Francisco. Since I really love the place, that’s great for me!
I don’t actually know their recipe so mine turned out a little spicier than theirs. Nevertheless it’s delicious! I think they use ghee but I wanted to go vegan so left it out. I think that the dish is already full of flavor anyways.
Chana is an excellent source of protein and combined with my delicious carrot cumin basmati rice it was a perfect meal. Don’t be scared to cook Indian. It’s true that there’re a lot of unusual spices and names to get the hang of and I do sometimes feel like a mad scientist in a culinary laboratory. But it’s super fun, and the results are always rewarding.
My Spicy Chana Recipe
2 cup cooked chick peas (chana)
3 tbsp canola oil
1 bay leaf
A few cloves
3 cardamom pods
3 medium onions, peeled
few pepper corns
5 ripe Roma tomatoes
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp fresh ginger ground into paste
Pinch of turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp chili powder
2 tsp Sambar* for extra spice, extra kick and thickening
½ bunch chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt to taste
1 to 2 cup hot water
*Sambar is a spice mix from South India made with coriander seeds, besan flour (chick-pea flour), fenugreek, black pepper, mustard seeds, chili powder, turmeric, cinnamon, curry leaves, asafetida and amchur powder (mango powder). You can find it at Indian specialty stores.
Place tomatoes, 2 onions, minced garlic, and ginger in food processor and pulse till puréed, then reserve. Cut remaining onion into thin slices. Heat oil in a non-stick pan; add cardamom pods, bay leaf, pepper corns and cloves cook for about 1 minute till fragrant. Add onion and sauté till soft and translucent but do not burn it. Add puréed tomato mix, turmeric and salt. Cook on high heat stirring constantly for 18-20 minutes. Add coriander, cumin, chili pepper and Sambar, give it a good stir. The powdered spices will soak up the juices and make a thick mass. Keep stirring it for few more minutes. Add chana, about 1 and ½ cup water and simmer on medium heat for another 10-12 minutes, stirring few times. The dish should have a thick consistency like a hearty marinara sauce. Adjust salt. Toss in cilantro and serve over rice.