Kabuli Chanay or chickpeas are truly a sub-continental favourite; across borders, ethnicities, religion, caste and colour, come Ramazan, tea time, dinners, coffee mornings or the ever favourite while out shopping snack.
One of my favourite things about Kabuli chanay is that all cooks and cuisines make and serve it a little differently, giving it their own personal and cultural twist.
Chickpeas make a great salad
Chickpea salad is a simple salad, loaded with carbohydrates and an explosion of taste. The base could be just chickpeas, boiled potatoes, fried fritters or papri (crackers), dahi bara, samosa, puffed rice, legume or chickpea snacks, served with a variety of chutneys, sauces, tahini sauce and dahi (yogurt), topped with chopped vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, green chillie, green onions, cucumbers, and garnished with cilantro, mint or endless possibilities.
Chickpea has been known to Asia and Europe for over 8000 to 10,000 years and was cultivated in both continents. Archeologists claim that its earliest cultivation may have been in the regions encompassing the Mediterranean, Persia, Afghanistan and the lands surrounding it. History suggests that the subcontinent may also have been its place of birth, hence the wide use of chickpea in Pakistan, India and the Mediterranean ranging from hummus, pakora, puri chana, dal ka halwa and the list goes on.
Max Falkowitz, the national editor at Serious Eats, in his article titled Top Chaat best describes it saying the following;
"Chaat isn't generally part of a meal; it's a snack eaten in between: after school or work, in the lingering hours before dinner. In a culture that doesn't go wild over alcohol, meeting for a Chickpea snack can replace meeting for drinks or coffee."
The recipe I share with you today is from the cookbook Jerusalem by Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi, and serves as a perfect iftar delight. The book says the following about the salad;
"The inspiration for this salad comes from a [restaurant in London], whose food is inspired by southern Spain, North Africa, and the Middle East, very much echoing the same voices that are heard in Jerusalem’s kitchens. The combination of cold and fresh salad with the warm chickpeas is surprisingly enticing. You care serve this dish as it is, with a warm pita [naan], tahini sauce, hummus [raita].’
Come this fasting month, I made the spiced chickpea and fresh vegetable salad, and served it as side with chapli kabab, yogurt raita and hot naan, it was a real hit. Here it is from my kitchen to yours.
2 cups chanay, soak overnight (preferably 12 hrs.) in 5 cups of water and 1/2 tsp. baking soda.
2 small cucumbers
2 large tomatoes
8 ½ oz. radishes
1 red pepper seeded
1 small red onion
1 bunch cilantro
6 tbsp. olive oil
Lemon zest and 3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 ½ apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. garlic
1 tsp. super fine sugar
1 tsp. ground cardamom
1 ½ tsp. ground spice
1 tsp. ground cumin
Greek yogurt (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rinse soaked Kabuli chanay, boil until tender, skimming foam. Drain and cool.
Chop cucumber, tomato, onions, radish, pepper and cilantro, drizzle salad dressing and toss lightly (5 tbsp olive oil, lemon juice zest, vinegar, garlic, sugar).
Mix cardamom, cumin, all spice and salt and add chanay to it.
In a pan put a tbsp. of olive oil, heat and toss chanay. Coat, lightly frying until warm, ensuring that they don't stick to pan.
Spoon warm chanay on one side of the platter, on the other side serve the cold salad, serve with a side of raita or greek yogurt, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.