xmlns:fb='http://www.facebook.com/2008/fbml' Curried Channa and Aloo (Chickpeas with Potatoes)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Curried Channa and Aloo (Chickpeas with Potatoes)

Channa is also known as chickpeas, garbanzo beans or ceci beans. Aloo on the other hand is what we Trinidadians refer to potato. Hence the term channa and aloo. In this dish, channa and aloo are simmered in a fragrant curry sauce flavored with aromatics including turmeric, cumin and fresh herbs.

Channa and aloo is a very popular staple in Trinidad. Now that Diwali, the hindu festival of lights, is approaching, many Hindus inTrinidad will soon begin fasting--refraining from meat, fish and eggs--and this dish will be prepared and enjoyed regularly during this period.

A dish traditionally eaten with “buss up shot roti” (paratha), which is essentially used to scoop up the lovely little beans and mop up the delicious curry sauce. It’s one of the main dishes served at religious functions and weddings where it is not uncommon for the entire neighborhood to be invited. I think its popularity stems from the fact that it’s not expensive to make, simple to prepare, feeds a crowd and is very satisfying and savory…

I have been very bothered lately. I have heartbreakingly noticed that my mom’s generation is aging rapidly(like mine isn't!). In this generation are some of the best cooks I know. Of course the younger generation can produce the same dishes, but there are techniques that the older generation use that makes a world of difference. I remember my mom saying the same thing about her mom’s generation. I feel an urgency to not only document their recipes, but also their techniques, so that when they pass[God forbid], their recipes, with their unique tastes and flavors,  will live with us forever.

I learned to make this from my mom’s best friend, Aunty Shudaye. She and my mom became friends when my mom married my dad and moved into the tiny village in Central Trinidad where I grew up. I was always at her house. Eating…and when I couldn’t sneak away to her house, [skipping through a back street, neighbors’ yards, dodging barking dogs and crawling through openings in people’s wire fences to get there],  she would send her son, Mikey, with food for me. She is one of the reasons I love food so much. Her food is as comforting as my mom’s, and she is without a doubt one of the best cooks I know.

[It’s quite difficult creating a recipe from someone who has never used measurements or recipes.  I hope I have done her recipe justice by translating her “average” method of cooking into plausible instructions.]

Served with roti, breads, rice or by itself, this makes a super healthy protein rich, vegetarian and vegan meal. Served with quinoa, it's a perfectly delicious gluten free meal. 

This recipe makes a large quantity so I encourage you to share with neighbors, friends, co-workers, your mom or siblings [sharing is caring]....or freeze leftovers to enjoy another time...or simple cut the recipe in half....not literally please...

Note: **Even if I don't mention the word organic, I always substitute organic ingredients when available.**

Trinidad Curried Channa and Aloo
Serves 8-10

1 pound dried chickpeas (channa, garbanzo beans)
2 tablespoons Trinidadian curry powder (Chief, Carifest, Lalla's)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
12 cloves garlic, grated or minced  (divided in half) (about 3-4 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons minced culantro (bandhania/shado beni) (substitute with cilantro if not available)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon methi (fenugreek) (optional)
½ large onion, sliced
Hot pepper, to taste
3-4 small potatoes (or two large), cut into quarters lengthwise
4 scallions, roughly chopped (if scallions are very large, only use two)
3 large sprigs thyme (5 or 6 small)
1-2 teaspoons ground, toasted cumin (geera), or to taste
Salt (I used a little less than 5 teaspoons Himalayan salt)
2 tablespoons chopped bandhania, (culantro) for finishing 

Prep work: 
1. Pick over chickpeas, remove any stones and debris and wash with several changes of water. Soak chickpeas in about 5 cups of water overnight. Drain.

2. Add 8 cups of water and chickpeas to a saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. After it comes to a vigorous boil, reduce heat to medium. Continue cooking until fork tender but not mushy, about 20-25 minutes(could take longer on your stove). Strain, reserving liquid (produces about 5 cups of liquid).

3. Grate or mince garlic. Mince culantro. Peel, wash and cut potatoes in quarters lengthwise, wash and roughly chop scallions and thyme. [chopped thyme sprigs are inedible and could be dangerous for kids. For this reason, I usually keep thyme whole and remove whole sprigs after cooking is complete.]

3. Make curry paste. Mix curry, turmeric, half of garlic(6 cloves), 1/2 minced culantro(bandhania)  and 5 tablespoons of water in a small bowl.

To cook:

1. Pour oil into a large heavy bottomed pot over high heat, heat. When hot, add methi, cook until it darkens. Add the onion and hot pepper, cook for 3 minutes. Add remainder of garlic and cook until the edges of the onion become golden brown.

2. Add curry paste and cook until it darkens, becomes grainy and fragrant and separates from oil, about 3-5 minutes. At this point you can rinse the "curry paste" bowl with a little water{1 tablespoon} and add to pot. 

3. Add potatoes and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

4. Add chickpeas, scallion, thyme and salt.  Cook about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent chickpeas and potatoes from sticking. 

4. Add reserved liquid and enough water to cover the chickpeas and potatoes, about 5-6 cups.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, [stirring every 8 minutes and cutting potatoes in half using spoon], until potatoes are tender and sauce thickens (but not totally evaporated), about 30 -40 minutes. [At the end of cooking, I mash about 4 pieces of potato with the back of the spoon to allow the sauce to thicken more rapidly]. If the chickpeas are not tender enough for your liking, continue to add two cups of water, in increments, until it's your desired texture. Some like it more firm than others. 

5. Remove cover, stir in cumin and chopped culantro and cook for an additional 5 minutes until sauce thickens but is not totally evaporated.

Rest for 10-15 minutes before serving to allow sauce to thicken further.

Eat simple
...Eat fresh
...Eat home cooked
...Eat real food...

Cooking with love,

In loving memory of summer gone.....
Arrangement made using flowers from my garden..

I created this as a reminder..because I want to believe.


Sam said...

Looks yummy!! Please post a recipe for the buss up in the back so I can try this. Ty.

DisqusTestAccount said...


Cooking with Ria said...

Thanks, hope it continues to work!

Sherry Ann said...

Great recipe, channa is a staple here. I agree with Sam, looking forward to a buss up shot recipe at your convenience of course. God bless.

Cooking with Ria said...

Thanks,Sherry! Will work on it!:-)

Cooking with Ria said...

Thanks, Sam! Glad ur comment finally appeared! Will post soon!!

Cooking with Ria said...

Excellent instructions, recipes, photos and effort. Thank you and keep up the great work

Cooking with Ria said...

Thank you so much, Damon. .you made my day! :-)

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