Kala chana (black/brown chickpeas or Bengal gram) are the earthier cousin of regular chickpeas (garbanzo beans). These darker chickpeas are also more toothsome than white chickpeas and do not cook to a mushy consistency. The beans become tender but have a thick skin that keeps them intact so they retain their shape. Brown chickpeas are not available in cans, so soak the dried chickpeas overnight before using. One cup of chickpeas will increase to 2 1/2 cups after the soak. A pressure cooker is the best way to cook these chickpeas, although you can make them in a saucepan as well; directions for both are provided. Serve this curry with rice or flatbread. If you can’t find kala chana, you can make this recipe using regular chickpeas. Regular chickpeas will cook faster;
2 teaspoons safflower or coconut oil 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion 1/8 teaspoon asafetida (omit to make glutenfree) 1 1/2 tablespoons chickpea flour 1 (2-inch) knob of ginger, minced or grated 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated 1 hot green chile, finely chopped 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric 1 tablespoon ground coriander 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne 3 cups water, divided 1 cup dried brown chickpeas (kala chana), soaked overnight and drained 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 cup chopped tomatoes 1 teaspoon chana masala spice blend or Garam Masala 1 teaspoon lemon juice, for garnish 1/4 cup packed chopped cilantro, for garnish
1. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add cumin seeds. Mix for a few seconds, and then add the onions and asafetida.
Cook for 3 minutes. Add the chickpea flour, mix well, and cook for a minute until fragrant. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the ginger, garlic, green chile, turmeric, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne with 3 tablespoons of water. Add this mixture to the chickpea flour-onion mixture and cook for a minute. 2. Add the brown chickpeas and the remaining water. Close and lock the lid, and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes, after the pressure is reached. (4 to 5 whistles on medium-high heat). 3. Let the pressure release by itself. Open the lid of the pressure cooker and place back over medium heat. Add the salt, tomato, and garam masala, and mix well. Lightly mash the chickpeas and tomato. Cook over medium heat, uncovered for another 15 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved. Garnish with a dash of lemon juice and a liberal sprinkling of cilantro. To make in a saucepan: Follow Step 1 using a saucepan. Combine the brown chickpeas with 3 1/2 cups of water in the saucepan over medium heat. Cover partially and cook for 20 minutes. Then add the salt, tomato, and garam masala, cover and continue to cook until the brown chickpeas are tender, 30 minutes or more. Garnish with a dash of lemon juice and chopped cilantro.