Tender Chickpeas in Coconut-Yogurt Sauce
This recipe for Kabli Ghana Usal was offered in a 1983 issue of Back to Godhead magazine, alongside an article by Vishakha Dasi about the popularity of chicken in the Western diet. She offered the chickpeas (garbanzo beans) as a great substitute in your diet, being a good source of protein and iron, as well as fiber, vitamins A and b6, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, calcium, phosphorous, sodium, and potassium.
When you combine legumes and whole grains, you have a 'complete' protein, with all of the amino acids necessary for your healthy body. So you don't need to eat meat or other animal products to have a proper meal. If you include legumes (peas, lentils, beans, peanuts), as well as whole grains (oats, brown rice, barley, quinoa), in your diet with plenty of fresh fruit and veggies, you don't even need to think about meat!
Because this recipe calls for dried chickpeas rather than canned, and also makes allowances for having a pressure cooker, please look over the instructions and cooking times carefully. For example, the total cook time for standard method is 2 to 3 1/4 hours, plus the over-night soak, but using a pressure cooker the time is only 30 to 40 minutes.
[We're also publishing the alternate chickpea recipe called 'Savory Chickpeas in Tomato Glaze' or Tamater Kabli Ghana Usal separately. Both are shown in the picture above. This one is the lighter chickpeas.]
1 ¼ cups whole dried chickpeas
4 to 5 cups water (3 ½ cups if you're using a pressure cooker)
4 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil for frying spices
1 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
8 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon white poppy seeds (if available) or chopped cashews or almonds
1 cup plain yogurt, sour cream, or cultured buttermilk
1 ½ to 3 teaspoons seeded, minced fresh hot green chilies
½ tablespoon scraped, minced fresh ginger root
1 cup lightly packed fresh or dried grated coconut
1 ½ to 2 cups ghee or oil for deep-frying
2 medium-size baking potatoes
1 ¼ teaspoons black mustard seeds
6 to 8 dried curry leaves
1 ¼ to 1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or coriander leaves
6 to 8 lemon or lime wedges or twists for garnish
1. Place the chickpeas in a 1-quart bowl, pour in 3 ½ cups of water, and soak overnight (about 8 hours) at room temperature.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°F.
3. Peel the potatoes and dice them into small cubes.
4. Drain the soaked chickpeas in a colander, place them in a heavy 3- to 4-quart saucepan, add 4 to 5 cups of water and a dab of ghee or vegetable oil, and bring to a full boil over a high flame. Reduce the flame to medium-low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and gently boil for 2 to 3 hours, or until the chickpeas are butter-soft but not broken down. If you're using a pressure cooker, combine the same ingredients in the cooker and use 3 ½ cups of water. Cover and cook under pressure for 30 to 35 minutes.
5. Remove from the flame (reduce pressure if necessary), uncover, and stir.
6. Place the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, black peppercorns, and white poppy seeds in a heavy frying pan and dry roast for about 10 minutes over a medium-low flame. Transfer to an electric coffee mill and pulverize to a powder. In a blender, combine the yogurt, seeded minced chilies, ginger, freshly powdered spice mixture, ½ cup of the cooking water (or fresh water) and the coconut. Then cover and blend on medium-high speed for about 1 minute or until the ingredients are reduced to a smooth sauce.
7. Over a medium-high flame, heat 1 ½ to 2 cups of ghee or oil in a 10-inch karai*, 12-inch wok, or 3-quart saucepan until the temperature reaches 365 °F. Carefully lower the cubed potatoes into the hot ghee or oil and fry until crispy and golden brown. Remove, drain, and set aside in the preheated oven on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Remove any containers of ghee or oil from the cooking area.
8. Over a medium to medium-high flame, heat 4 tablespoons of ghee or vegetable oil in a 3- or 4-quart saucepan for 30 to 60 seconds. Drop in the black mustard seeds and fry until they crackle and sputter (30 to 45 seconds). Stir in the curry leaves, add the chickpeas (use a slotted spoon), then pour in the coconut-yogurt sauce, salt, and turmeric. Reduce the flame to medium low and, stirring frequently, cook uncovered until the sauce diminishes to half its original quantity. Fold in the fried potato cubes.
9. Before offering to Lord Krishna, garnish each serving with the fresh minced herbs and a wedge or twist of lemon or lime.
**What is a karai? A karai, or karahi, is similar to a wok, but with thicker walls and a deeper bowl shape. It is usually used for shallow deep frying, or for longer-cooking soups or dahls. A deep wok, or a thick-bottomed saucepan can usually substitute if you do not have one.