Sunday, March 30, 2014

Amma's chana (or channa)

This is my (South Indian) mother-in-law's version of the famous North Indian garbanzo bean dish Chana Masala or Chole you see in Indian restaurants everywhere. In my opinion, it is the best. Can eat with rice but typically eaten with flat bread like chapatis or naan, can substitute whole wheat tortillas.



-- 2 cups dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight (or 7 hours) 
-- 2 small potatoes or one big one, peeled (we used red potatoes)

-- 4 tablespoons oil
-- 2 medium-sized yellow onions, peeled and chopped
-- chili powder 1/2 tsp, or to taste

-- 2 big tomatoes, chopped

-- 4-5 cashew nuts (optional - makes the sauce creamier and richer)
-- 2 tsp. salt, or to taste
-- 1 tsp. tamarind paste, or 1 lemon (Amma prefers tamarind paste, unless you will eat all the channa immediately, because if you store something cooked with lemon it becomes bitter)
-- 2 tsp. chana masala (spice mix available in Indian stores - MTR brand is Amma's favorite)
-- 1 tsp. garam masala (spice mix available in Indian stores - MTR brand is Amma's favorite)

-- 1/2 bunch cilantro, removed from stems and minced (1 big handful)

NOTE: it probably goes without saying for Indian food, but just about everything here is adjustable according to the strength of your ingredients and personal taste.


1.  Rinse and drain garbanzo beans. Put in pressure cooker with potatoes and cover with water plus an inch, cook for four whistles (you may need to cook longer if your beans are old). When cooked, mash the potato roughly up into bits. NOTE: The potato is there for a thicker consistency to the sauce -- if time is short can use canned cooked garbanzo beans and either cook the potato separately or leave out entirely.

2. Add oil to a big pan, heat up, add the onion and chili powder and saute until starting to get transluscent. NOTE: The tomato and onion mixture is what makes up the bulk of the sauce, if you want more sauce, you can scale up the tomatoes, onions, and oil. 

3.  Add tomato and cook over medium heat until the tomato and onion are cooked through, for about 10-15 minutes, or until "oil comes out on the sides."

4. Add cashews into blender and pulverise into a powder (if using), then add in the cooked onion and tomato mixture and grind to a paste/sauce.

5. Add cooked garbanzo beans and potato into the pan, along with the salt. mix the tomato/onion mixture into the chana, add garam masala, chana masala, tamarind paste or lemon, and mix. It should be a soupy consistency -- you may need to add some water to get this.

6. Boil for 10-15 minutes until flavors have melded and the consistency is a bit thicker -- you see slow, bloopy bubbles coming up in the pot.

7. Turn off the heat and add minced cilantro. The channa masala will darken a bit as it sits.
Enjoy! This is traditionally eaten with pilav, chapati, toast and butter, or heated tortillas. 

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