Great news! The e-book of Markswoman is currently available for just USD 1.99 all over the United States at Amazon, BN, and Harper Collins! It is also one of BookBub’s Best Fantasy Books of 2018. Just look at the amazing company it is in! Heart-eyes…
To celebrate, I am sharing my recipe for chola, or chickpea curry. Why, you may ask. What has one to do with the other? And the answer is 1) just because I feel like it and 2) it’s certainly a dish Kyra has eaten at some point, in some form and 3) because I was on twitter yesterday, complaining that a batch of stubborn chickpeas refused to cook properly even after two days soaking and an hour in the pressure cooker. My mistake? Putting them in the fridge for a day or two before cooking, because I’d soaked too much for one batch. The poor things probably freeze-dried.
Anyway, you make chola from dry chickpeas. Not the canned ones. Never the canned ones! Soak the chickpeas overnight, adding a few spoons of chana dal to the mix (split Bengal gram lentils make the gravy thicker). Do not put in fridge. Blend onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger and, if you’re feeling adventurous, green chilies.
In a pressure cooker, heat oil. Add cumin seeds. Add turmeric powder, chana masala powder which you can get from any South Asian grocery store, amchur (dried mango powder) and – this is very important – your own home-made garam masala.
Here is the recipe for mine: mix a teaspoon each of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, cloves, a bit of cinnamon, green cardamom, black cardamon, and peppercorns. (I’m sure I’m forgetting something.) Dry roast on pan. Cool. Blend in coffee grinder. Yum. Strong and flavorful, just like garam masala should be. Not that tasteless stuff you get in stores.
When the spices are bubbling, add your onion-tomato blend. Stand back, because it will sputter. Stir and reduce on medium heat until water has mostly evaporated. The fumes will be powerful. Stay strong. Don’t be in a hurry to get to the next step, or your gravy won’t taste good. It will taste of raw onions! The base of your curry has to cook properly.
When it is almost a paste, you can add the chickpeas. Add salt, enough water, close the pressure cooker, and cook the hell out of it. Seriously, it takes several whistles. Even then, I usually cook it once or twice more after opening and tasting it. The resulting chickpeas should be so soft they literally melt in your mouth. Eat with naan, puris, or plain basmati rice. Accompanying salad: mix of chopped onions, tomatoes, green chilies and fresh green coriander, sprinkled with salt and lemon. Enjoy!
I make this dish at least once a month. And now I’ve made myself hungry.