5 May 2011

Dal 2 - chickpea and onion

And so onto chickpea, mightiest of legume. I've always advocated tinned chickpeas being the lazy man I am but dal quest is surely as good a time as any to have a go on the dried versions. This lot had a soak in boiling water overnight (well it started boiling, I'm sure the natural laws of thermodynamics meant that it cooled in that period) with a sprinkle of turmeric.
Lots of dal recipes suggest boiling the legumes until cooked and then adding a preparation or tempering of fried spices at the end (AKA chaunk (Hindi: छौंक), chhaunk, chounk, chonk, chhounk, chhonk, tarka, tadka, bagar, phoron, phoran in Bengali, vaghaar (Gujarati: વઘાર) and popu). So that is what I did. Sort of.

 please note silicon Le Creuset spatula, heat proof to a million million degrees

  • dried chickpeas
  • lots of onions (one per person)
  • curry leaves, turmeric, cumin, brown mustard seeds, garlic, green chillies

After soaking the chickpeas set them to boil in a covered pan. They are going to need about forty minutes.

Meantime fry the onion in a healthy dollop of ghee with a little sliced garlic. After twelve minutes push the onion to the side of the pan and allow some ghee to pool in the middle - add a little more if needs be. Put in a fair amount of cumin and allow to fry in the fat and surrender their oils.

Add the other spices in sensible amounts and the chilli and fry them for five minutes in the pan, stirring to prevent burning. Stir everything together and continue to cook under all golden and soft.

When the chickpeas are nearly done combine with the pan of onions and spices and cook together for five minutes or until done.

I guess this wasn't a proper tempering as you chuck that on right at the last minute and serve straight away. This was more of a two stage cooking process. I think it worked excellently. The chickpeas have their own time and space to concentrate on softening up and the spices all get to spend time together in a pan with the onions. The onion totally broke down and formed the most wonderful sweet and aromatic paste to hold the chickpeas. Don't scrimp on them: you need serious amounts here.

And what of the dried chickpeas, the great labour of love? Very fine. More characterful for sure. A soft interior like the canned version but with a more evident jacket, a tasty, textured exterior to welcome your every molar.