Monday, 20 April 2015

Chickpea chaat

As I mentioned before, Indian food is probably the easiest vegan food to prepare. Lots of it is accidentally vegan, and it's damn tasty. This is part recipe, part assembly job for a snack that can be easily expanded into a full-on meal. Chaat is the Hindi name for the Indian snack foods that are frequently available when you're out and about in any major town. They usually have a fried, crispy element, partnered with something sharp and tangy, and so of course are delicious. Here's my version of a cheat's chickpea (channa) chaat (I win at alliteration). You could definitely make your own tamarind chutney and channa masala spice mix, but I don't know anyone who makes their own chaat masala, so think I've still a good level of authenticity!

This version is vegan, but you could add a bit of yogurt on top too, especially if you make your chickpeas uber-spicy. Or indeed use a non-dairy, plain yogurt and still keep it vegan.

Recipe (enough for 4 hearty snack-sized portions)

For the channa masala-
1 tin cooked chickpeas, ideally kala channa (around 400g)
1 small onion, finely sliced
Half a thumb-sized piece of ginger, squashed to a paste
2 fat garlic cloves, crushed
1 dried bay leaf
1 tblsp channa masala spice mix
0.5 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional, as the spice mix should contain chilli too)
2 tsp sundried tomato puree
A little oil
A little water

I purchased the above from my local Indian supermarket, but the chutney and bhujia below were available from Tesco.

To make the channa masala heat a tablespoon or so of a plain oil in a pan, and when hot (but not smoking) tip in the onions and bay leaf. Stir and leave the onions to soften a bit. When they are lightly browned, add the ginger, garlic and chilli and cook for a few more minutes, before adding the spice mix. Give everything a good mix and leave to cook for a few more minutes until the spices lose their raw edge. Then add the tomato puree, and a little water to stop things sticking. Drain the cooked chickpeas and add to the pan, and simmer for 10-15 minutes (adding a little more water if needed, to make a thick 'gravy'). If you're using a ready made channa masala mix, it's unlikely you'll need any extra salt but do check.

Once the chickpeas are done, here's a list of things to generously sprinkle on top of each individual portion:
1 small red onion, finely chopped
Small chunk of cucumber (seeds removed), finely chopped
Several tblsp sev (thin chickpea noodles) or aloo bhujia
Several tsps chaat masala
Several tblsp tamarind chutney
A tblsp or 2 of yogurt (optional)

Chaat masala contains kala namak (black salt) which is quite sulphurous and can be an acquired taste, but somehow becomes quite addictive, quite quickly. This is an excellent accidentally vegan dish, which combines spice with fried, crunchy things- how could it not be delicious?

1 comment:

Milo Anderson said...

Chick pea chaat is a kind of mix of different vegetables and chick peas. It tastes so yummy that I cannot explain unless you eat it yourself.