Sookhe Kala Channa

Mallika Basu - Sookhe Kala Channa

Posted 26th November 2007

It was a week of two halves.

The first was all festive glitter, mulled wine and the most amazing macaroons at a chi chi Christmas lights on party for this London shopping arcade.

The second saw me travel cattle class to the depths of North England for work.

The 3-hour train journey I can handle. Being rudely awoken by drunk girls while I’m asleep on six-inch, deep filled mattress in a boutique hotel I can deal with. But failing to find something decent for lunch in a 60s-style shopping parade is where I give up.

Convinced the only decent thing to do would be to get with the programme, my colleague dragged me off to a local chippie. Which evidently sustained the town’s entire school going population and had a lucrative sideline in Chinese specialties.

Fancy a deep fried sausage with Singapore noodles?

Me neither.

The stress of it made me crave curry. Anything with a hint of masala would do. I bought a chicken tikka wrap. Slices of pre-cooked chicken smothered in a ready made curry sauce and doused with raw onions. But I couldn’t stomach it.

I’m not usually the tiffin box type but I wish I’d brought along kala channa, little black chick peas with an spicy masala coating. Low fat, high in protein and fibre, these are the just the thing for snacking, alongside a full Indian meal or when hopes are fading fast.

A handful of this stuff on a bed of simple salad would have considerably lifted my spirits last week. Thankfully, I soon found a cafe that sold green tea and home made cake.

Not quite the masala hit I was hoping for but this I could live with…

Serves 4:

125 gm little black chick peas

1 tsp minced ginger

Half tsp cumin

Half tsp ajwain seeds

Half tsp chilli powder

1 tbsp sunflower oil

Salt to taste

Soak the chick peas overnight or at least four hours in a large pan of cold water until they double up in size. Drain, refill with cold water and then boil on a high heat for 20 minutes until you can squish them really easily with your thumb and index finger. When it’s ready, drain and set aside.

In another large pan, bring the oil to heat over a high flame. When it is hot, add in order the ginger, cumin seeds, ajwain seeds, chilli powder. Stir for a minute so that the ginger starts turning golden.

Now add the drained chickpeas, the salt and fry stirring vigorously on the high heat for about five minutes until the masala evenly coats them.

Eat hot with your meal, or cold straight out the fridge as a healthy snack. Or take in a tiffin box where food may not meet your exacting standards.

PS = This is quick Indian cooking on the basis that you can eat it for days in many guises. But if you know where I can buy ready soaked, cooked little chick peas, please please let me know. You know how much I LOVE soaking and boiling…

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