Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Kala Channa with Greens and Tomato (No Added Fat)

I loved kicking off the new show So Many Cooks in the Kitchen (the livestream is available online and an edited version will soon be on the Plant-Based Network!) this past Saturday all about beans. I came up with this idea a few weeks ago - I love working with fellow Food for Life instructors; they're all so knowledgeable about food and nutrition. We formed a group to periodically go online and teach in rapid-fire fashion kitchen-to-kitchen.

This time, our topic was beans and next time we'll move on to vegetables. Each of us had about 6-8 minutes to share from our kitchens. I showed how to cook beans and talked about a few varieties.

Today, I made kala channa  (a chickpea variety, also known as black chickpea or Bengal gram; it takes longer to cook but results in a nice, nutty and more textured result). Combined with a few spices, greens, and fresh tomato, it made a healthful, easy, tasty, and colorful dinner. Here is what I did.

  • 1 1/2 cups dried kala channa (you could also just use dried chickpea - or even canned and skip cooking - and cook for less time)
  • 3/4 cup frozen chopped or fresh kale; if fresh, roughly hand tear from stems (composting or otherwise discarding stems) into approximately 1 1/2" pieces
  • 2/3 t turmeric
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t garlic powder or garlic granules
  • 1/2 t lemon pepper (or freshly ground pepper)
  • 1/2 chili powder (to taste; can certainly be omitted or increased)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion or, if not available, yellow onion, cut into large 1" pieces
  • 2T lime or tangerine juice
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
  1. Sort through the chickpeas, removing any debris like leaves or branches, rinse, and soak in ample water for at least 3-5 hours, but ideally overnight. Discard soaking water, and rinse again.
  2. Put chickpeas into Instant Pot pressure cooker along with just enough water to cover the chickpeas.
  3. Add the kale and spices and cook under pressure for 40-45 minutes. Black chickpeas do take significantly longer to cook than regular chickpeas. If you are using regular chickpeas, cook for 20-25 minutes.
  4. While the chickpeas are cooking, put the onion in a cast iron pan with no oil and cook, stirring once in a while, over medium high. Let the onion get nicely charred for a tasty carmelized touch.
  5. After the cooking is done, you can wait a few minutes and gently released pressure, or do as I did, and cook at least a half hour in advance and let the pressure naturally reduce.
  6. When I was ready to serve, I opened the pot slowly, and added lime juice and tomato. I added the onion at the table since my daughter doesn't like much onion (but she loved how carmelized the Vidalia onion was).
I served with brown rice and an avocado piece.

We all loved dinner. It's been a while since I've made kala channa; it has a stronger flavor than regular chickpeas and is fun to make and enjoy. The spicing was good, though I'd add more cumin or perhaps garam masala for spice lovers, as well as more heat, perhaps including some serrano or jalapeno pepper.

Ideas for the future

Some of my homemade vegan yogurt would go well with such a channa dish; if I did use the yogurt, I'd probably also want to increase the spiciness. I could use more vegetables, such as chopped carrot, additional greens like spinach and, to increase the flavor, mustard greens. Turnip greens would also be good. While the fresh tomato was good, cooked green tomato or tomato paste would also be a nice variation. 

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