Thursday, January 30, 2014

hara chana, green gram or tender green garbanzo beans | a subzi, a salad and a tea time snack with hara hana

4 ways with green garbanzo beans or hara chana

Harey chane or green garbanzo beans are a seasonal pleasure. Tender kernels of green gram, sweetish in taste and a fresh crunch in the texture. How much I dig for season's fresh produce and this one is really a prized catch whenever we get them fresh.

hara chana or chholia

The tender green legumes are available in the winters, in abundance in rural areas and small towns across India, the legumes mostly still attached to the whole plant. Yes, the whole plant is uprooted and sold in markets for a reason. The chana plant gets almost dry and woody when the beans ripe, the rural folk fire up the whole plants in bundles during winter evenings, sitting in their veranda or in the open. A good campfire that results in fire roasted tender green chana which is shelled out of the charred legumes and had with either jaggery or chilly garlic chutney. I see this as a very clever and practical way to spend evenings outdoors in foggy winters of Hindi heartland with a warm nourishing snack being prepared on the spot. It has been ages we did that, it was an occasional thing that we did as kids. Banaras still gets some hara chana horha as the whole plant with green gram is called.

We get these tender harey chane shelled here in Delhi and I buy a bag of it whenever I spot it. I remember how we used to make harey chane ka nimona, ghugni and even desserts (harey chane ka halwa) with it. We are having our fill of harey chane ki subzi with potatoes for spicy winter meals right now. This subzi is also called as ghugni but harey chane ki ghugni will be more dry if made the traditional way.

harey chane ki subzi

We mostly have this subzi or ghugni as it is for breakfast, some crackers are had with it sometimes and Arvind wants a crisp flaky paratha with it sometimes. This is something you can even have with rice for a lunch or dinner. Truly versatile as my grandmother used to say..chane ke kayee khaney (many foods with gram), green gram of hara chana is something you wait for the whole year. Small little things to make you happy.

This subzi is more like a quick ghugni that is made with minimal oil and powdered spices. Winter morning are so hassled we want quick and tasty food, something that cooks in a pressure cooker with minimal seasoning and powdered spices from masale ka dabba. Yes, I am reminded of the masala dabba in my mom's kitchen, I don't use any masala dabba now as there just too many spices and powders to keep.

hara chana 250 gm
one large potato scrubbed and cubed
turmeric powder 1 tsp
chopped coriander greens and stems 2-3 tbsp each
red chilly powder or chopped green chillies to taste
salt to taste
mustard oil 1 tsp or a bit more
sometimes I chuck in a few roughly chopped garlic too
amchoor 1 tsp


Heat mustard oil in pressure cooker pan and make a paste of all the powdered spices with 2 tbsp water. Tip in the spice paste into the hot oil and stir for a few seconds till the spices get aromatic. 

Add the potato cubes and toss well to coat. Add salt and chopped garlic if using. Add the chopped coriander stems as well, sometimes I add 2-3 tbsp of green chutney to this subzi and get a nice tangy green hued subzi. Add that if you have some chutney in the fridge.

Now add the hara chana, toss to coat well. Add a cup of water and pressure cook till the first whistle blows. Take off the flame, let the pressure get normal, open the lid and add the amchoor powder. 

Mix the subzi well so some of the potatoes get mushed up and make the subzi a mish mash or potatoes and harey chane. Serve hot or at room temperature. This subzi is meant for a rustic meal, a favourite with kachori and poori lovers but we rarely had this with pooris.

alu harey chane ki subzi

Since the subzi tastes so good even at room temperature, Arvind loves it in his lunch box as well. The spicing can be adjusted if you like some aromatic garam masala but we never made this curry with any garam maslaa added. The everyday curry powder works really good for it.

We like a simple salad with harey chane too. A tomato salsa is mixed with rinsed green garbanzo beans and had like a salad or as a tea time snack with added puffed rice to it.

harey chane ka salad

To make the tomato salsa, just chop 2 large tomatoes, microwave them for a minute and mash them with the back of a fork. Add chopped garlic, chopped green chillies to taste, salt and a little mustard oil and mix well. Add a little vinegar if you want to keep the salsa for a day or two in the fridge. Add chopped onions or spring onions and mix with the harey chane or use otherwise. Ass much hara chana for as much tomato salsa you want. Make it to your taste and enjoy.

Another harey chane snack is a quick stir fry in mustard oil and cumin seasoning for us. 

This one is a really nice namkeen type snack with our evening tea. Just heat 1 tsp of mustard oil, chuck in a tsp of whole cumin seeds and may be one broken dry red chilly. Add about 200 gm hara chana and salt to taste, mix well to coat and cover the pan and let it cook for 3-5 minutes on low flame. I do it till the milky ginger tea boils on the other side of the stove. You might need to stir it once or twice in between. Squeeze lime or sprinkle amchoor powder if you wish and have warm with tea.

harey chane ki jhalmudi

I know you make some equally yummy snacks with harey chane as well. Share them with me and other readers here. Sharing is a great way to learn more.

I am dreaming of the harey chane ka horha with some hot lasun mirch ki chutney till then. May be I get a chance to taste that smoky goodness this season.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Lasun mirch wala keema | a mutton mince curry with chilly and garlic

Lasun mirch wala keema is not as intensely garlicky or intensely hot as the name suggests. So relax. This a creamy curry with pleasant notes of garlic and green chilly peppers where you get sweeter taste of chillies more than the heat. This mutton mince curry with loads of garlic and green chillies is soul satisfying type of food if you believe me. It replaces our soup dinners in winters many times and we fall for kadak mixed grains roti with it, although we eat more of the curry and less roti, the curry is so addictive good.

Green chillies come in all shapes and sizes, with different heat levels and we use them for differently in our food. We are spoiled for the chilly peppers varieties now a days, Jalapenos, Anaheim, Serrano, Poblanos and Cayenne are some of the varieties visible in the markets. I usually get a small bag of all of them and keep using them to make pickles, stuffed chillies etc. But I mostly like them to be used in my soups or stir fries depending on how hot they are and how much flavour they pack for the recipe. So when I need the rich chilly flavours and lesser heat I use the Anahiem or Jalapenos or a mix of these two.

Go for the larger and wider chillies if you want the sweet flavours of chillies in your recipes, especially if you live in India and the chillies are not labeled by their names in the local markets.

This lasun mirch wala keema recipe I was planning to cook this winter and yet something or the other kept distracting me from this keema recipe. I make a nice mirchi gosht too but this lasun mirch wala keema is a totally different bouquet of flavours. Just a few spices are used and a nut paste makes this dish a rich meal without many side dishes. You wont need much when this lasum mirch wala keema is in the menu.

(2-4 servings depending on side dishes)

keema (mutton mince) 300 gm
garlic cloves 50 gm
mild variety of green chillies 80-100 gm
melon seeds 50 gm
cashew nuts 20 gm
whole coriander seeds 1 tsp
cinnamon stick 1 inch piece
green cardamoms 2
chopped coriander greens and stems 100 gm
ghee 1 tbsp or 15 gm
salt to taste ; 1 tsp will be good enough


Soak the melon seeds and cashews in hot water for 10 minutes and make a fine paste. Keep aside.

Mince the garlic and slice the green chillies. Keep aside.

Heat ghee in a thick base pan, preferably a handi and tip in the whole spices in it. Wait till the spices get lightly aromatic, taking care not to brown them. Add the minced garlic and sliced chillies at once and keep stirring till it all looks translucent. Do not brown the garlic or chillies, we want them to be just a bit translucent.

Add the keema and the chopped stems of coriander greens. Save the chopped coriander leaves to be added in the last phase of finishing the dish. Stir fry for a minute and add 2 cups of water, bring to a soft boil and then simmer for about half an hour, preferably covered but take care not to let it spill.

Add the nut paste and coriander leaves. Adjust the gravy consistency by adding some water if required, or simmer without the lid to reduce if you feel like.

Simmer again after adding the nut paste till the fats float on the surface. This is the time the dish is ready. Serve hot with any Indian style bread, roti or naan.

We generally don't need any accompaniments with this lasun mirch wala keema. It is an indulgence to be enjoyed in singularity.

Friday, January 10, 2014

honey chilly sweet potato finger chips : baked finger chips

These could well qualify to be called as Shakarkandi ke gutke, which is a sticky chaat made using tamarind and black salt, some red chilly etc etc. These sweet potato finger chips are a diantier, drier version of them. Shakarkandi or sweet potatoes as we call them in India, are actually a yam. We get the purplish skinned, pale flesh variety here but the Vitamin A content is not compromised much. This is the season for sweet potatoes and I love getting all fresh produce that I see in the markets. After all the fruits and vegetables come packed with nutrients when they are at the peak of their growth or fruiting stage.

Shakarkandi is roasted on charcoal traditionally in winters and is tossed up in a quick chhaat with either kala namak and lime juice or with slices of star fruit that comes in this season too. I make several versions of chaats and salads with sweet potatoes and add them to a few curries as well. Yes I learnt adding sweet potatoes ever since I tasted the famous Labra that Bengalis make and the winter special Undhiyu that Gujratis make. I feel I am a sucker for rustic foods from regional cuisines and can't get enough of it.

But this recipe is beautiful to look at, dainty chips that won't let you rest in peace until you have polished off the last crumb. I usually make it for our weekend teas or as a part of an elaborate meal sometimes. But a healthy snack it is when the two of us are alone at home, the snack sometimes gets too much and we skip the next meal. It's a free world you see :-)

I would say the recipe is very simple. Now, a simple recipe is not a new thing on my blogs, you probably come back to my recipes because they are simple and doable, healthy and tasty. Please say yes. I will feel happy.

(makes 2-3 large servings, as a filling snack)

one large fat sweet potato with skin, about 200 gm
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fine red chilly powder
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp melted butter
2 tbsp sesame seeds


Discard any spotted skin from the sweet potato and brush it clean. Now chop it in batons 1 cm thick. You wont get nice and crisp finger chips if you cut them thicker, but the taste will be great, so don't worry if some of them are a bit thicker.

Toss all the ingredients together and spread them evenly all on a baking sheet. Adjust seasoning before you bake, it's all a matter of personal taste and there should be a good balance of sweet, sour and hot in this recipe.

I use silpat but you can use parchment paper or a nonstick baking pan or a glass or ceramic baking dish. Bake at 200 C for 10 minutes, toss once and bake again for 7-10 minutes or till you see almost dry finger chips, sesame gets crisp so you get the idea. The chips are softer inside.

Great accompaniment to tea or coffee. You can always serve it along with some cream cheese or feta cheese as an aperitif.

Let me know if you try the recipe. We have been having them regularly this winter, taking advantage of season's bounty. Who cares for fried snacks when we can bake them right.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

mung daal with fenugreek sprouts | methi wali mung ki daal ...

Methi wali mung ki daal would not make you drool when you hear it. But cook it with fenugreek micro greens or sprouts and see how the mung ki daal transforms with a hint of garlic and ghee.

Mung ki daal gets repeated the most in my kitchen. Not only because it is a healthy lentil, I love the taste and cook the mung ki daal in many different ways and the daal behaves differently with different treatments given to it. Like if pressure cooked, the daal is a buttery texture, if pan cooked the daal remains a little coarse but with so much more taste and a mild aroma in it. Mung ki sookhi daal is another favourite of mine. I add baby spinach to mung daal more frequently and sometimes bathua leaves whenever I want to add some greens to the mung daal, but methi greens are rare in my mung daal. Unless it is tender methi (fenugreek) sprouts.

The fenugreek sprouts are actually sort of micro greens of methi. I often sprinkle some methi seeds in a plastic packaging tray that comes with meat or chicken from the meat shop. It is easy to grow micro greens of some seeds in such re-purposed trays or containers, just fill them up with a layer of soil after poking holes in the bottom and sprinkle the seeds, water the tray sparsely and wait for 2-3 weeks. The micro greens or sprouts will make you happy for salads or curries.

You can grow such micro greens of mustard, radishes, peas and chickpeas easily. Just snip them, rinse well and enjoy home grown greens.

This recipe of mung daal with methi sprouts is easy, but takes about half an hour to cook at a leisurely pace since I prefer doing it in a pan. This daal is always cooked when I have a peaceful alone time in the kithcen and do some more chores along with the daal being cooked with all it's aromas to fill me up.

Pressure cooking saves time and you can always do that if you are okay with the textures.

(2 servings)
dhuli mung (skinned mung beans) 1/2 cup
turmeric powder 1 tsp
salt 1/2 tsp or to taste
water 1.5 cups (more if required)
fenugreek sprouts 1.5 cups
chopped garlic 2 tsp
mild green chillies chopped 2-3 tbsp or to taste
cumin seeds 1 tsp
ghee 1 tbsp or a bit more if you like


Cook the mung daal along with water, turmeric powder and salt in a deep pan over medium to low flame. Keep stirring in between to avoid spilling the watery liquid. The daal takes about 15-20 minutes to cook to desirable texture. Add small amounts of water if required during the cooking time. Do not cover the pan as the daal is likely to spill over if you cover it.

Prepare a tempering with ghee and cumin when the daal is cooked. Heat ghee in a separate pan, add the cumin seeds and wait till they splutter and get aromatic. Add a pinch of hing if you like and then tip in the garlic and wait till the garlic gets pink. Take the pan off the heat, add the green chillies and the methi sprouts, mix well quickly and pour over the cooked daal. Stir lightly and cover for a couple of minutes before serving it.

This daal is best eaten just after the tempering. It makes a meal for me sometimes, or a roti and a large serving of a plain vegetable curry is what I like with this.

You might like to use a little more ghee to the tempering, please go ahead and add more ghee especially if you are not having any other fats or carbs with this daal.

This is truly satvik food, cooked to heal and nourish the body, mind and soul. Mung daal has always been the food for breaking fasts, for cleansing and for light eating. With fenugreek sprouts it becomes so fragrant and flavourful. The garlic is the only non satvik element in the daal if you talk in strict Hindu terms, but who cares when garlic has so much healing properties and is so yummy. I would recommend using the mild green chillies in this daal and use them liberally as the chilly capsaicin adds immense flavours to this daal.

I use the Anahiem type green peppers a lot, they are called Bangalore chillies here and lend a great taste to a few curries I cook. We had a nice mutton mince curry with lots of these peppers and loved it so much. The recipe is coming soon. Stay tuned.