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Sour Chickpeas {Khatte chhole}

This week at IHCC marks the start of a six-month cooking journey with Madhur Jaffrey.  Now, I'm no stranger to Jaffrey.  I first fell in love with her storytelling when I read Climbing the Mango Trees a couple of years back.  And actually, I was so inspired to try more Indian dishes that I threw a Taste of India dinner party.  And no kidding, four or five of those dishes still make regular appearances in my kitchen.  And then last year I revisited my interest in Jaffrey when she appeared on the 50 Women Game-Changers (in food) list.  So, I was excited when she took the vote by storm and I realized that I was going to be able to spend a solid six-month period exploring and re-discovering her food.  And along with that, her stories and food memories.

I decided to kick everything off with something easy.  Because in all honesty, I still wasn't one hundred percent after traveling.  I never realized how much being an international jet-setter could take out of you.  Chickpeas are a sure win in our house.  If only for the hubs and I.  And I find it pretty amazing how adjusting the spices used and the layers of ingredients can transform something we eat on a regular basis into a completely different experience.  Khatte chhole was typically a "street food" or "bazaar food" in India, but many people now make it at home as not only a snack, but a side dish or main part of a meal.   It carries that signature musty earthiness lent by the chickpeas, but also a layer of slow heat and a welcome sourness from the last minute addition of a lemon juice mixture that contains raw onions, green chiles, and ginger.  We actually served it with brown rice and made a meal of it, though I can see tipping it into my mouth from a waxed paper cone as I walk down a colorful, busy street.
If you enjoy cooking with Madhur Jaffrey, feel free to come over and join us at IHCC anytime from now through March.  We'll be there.  Getting familiar with Jaffrey's food, style, and techniques.  And hey, if you're by some chance not familiar with her, then you should really join us.  Six months is a pretty solid introduction and foundation for getting to know any chef or cook.  We choose differently weekly themes, meant to be a source of inspiration or a way of narrowing down your decisions by the week.  And every month we have a Potluck.  That means anything goes (as long as you're cooking with Jaffrey).  We'd love to have you!

Sour Chickpeas {Khatte chhole}

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 1 hour - overnight (soak time)
Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Keywords: side snack vegan soy-free sugar-free gluten-free beans legumes Indian

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 12 oz. dried chickpeas, rinsed
  • 10-11 oz. onion, chopped
  • ~2½ tsp. salt
  • 1 hot green chile, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 4 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 6 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 8 oz. tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. ground, roasted coriander
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp. garam masala
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
Soak the chickpeas in about 3 pints (6 cups) water overnight or using the quick-soak method (bring to boil for 1 minute, cover and turn off heat, let sit one hour). Drain and replace with fresh water in a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer gently until chickpeas are tender, ~1½ hours. Strain chickpeas, saving 14 oz. (400 ml) of the cooking liquid.

In a small bowl or teacup, combine 2 tablespoons of the chopped onion, ½ teaspoon of the salt, the chile, ginger, and lemon juice. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy, wide pot over medium-high. When hot, add remaining onions. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to caramelize a bit, 8-10 minutes. Add tomatoes and continue to saute for another 5-6 minutes. Press down on the tomatoes with a spoon to start breaking them up. Add ground coriander, cumin, and turmeric and saute for 30 seconds while stirring. Add the drained chickpeas, the reserved cooking liquid, remaining salt, garam masala, and cayenne. Stir to combine then bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the mixture you reserved earlier and turn off heat. Serve hot or lukewarm.

Khatte chhole are traditionally eaten as a snack in India, you can serve these with rice and veggies to make a nice vegetarian or vegan meal. Or you can serve them as a side dish alongside meats.

slightly adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery
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