Chana Recipes

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Lobia Dal Spiced Curry Recipe (Black Eyed Peas Curry) Recipe

First of all, I would like to send you my best wishes for the New Year, and i hope this week has started as well for you as it has for me. 

I've been extremely busy preparing for the promotion of my second cookbook, Banh Mi. As I mentioned last week, 2014 seems to be starting with a bang. I'm doing a Golden Globes Luxury Gifting Suite at the beginning of the year and copies of Banh Mi will be included in the celebrity "swag bags."  Celebrities will be photographed on the red carpet at the suite with the Banh Mi book and I will be serving a few dishes from my cookbook. I'm so excited!

For the first Meatless Monday of the new year, I went for a super easy Indian vegan dish called lobia dal. It's an especially simple lentil bean dish if you use frozen black eyed peas. The rest of the ingredients consist of chickpea flour (besan), cumin, chiles, tamarind and curry leaves. I served it with warm roti (Indian flat bread), gur (jaggery, which is palm sugar; it tastes similar to flavorful brown sugar) and garlic chutney to complete the meal. 



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Tomato Chana Dal Spiced Curry Recipe Recipe

I rarely make this dish because Daddy, my father-in-law, prefers chana dal without tomatoes. But today, I made an exception and prepared the gram lentils with the remaining San Marzano tomatoes we harvested from our vegetable garden. The weather has been incredibly hot lately in the Bay Area and a few tomatoes are still peaking daily. 

First, I boiled the soaked chanal dal until softened. Then I prepared a gravy using the tomatoes, mixed chopped onions and a bit of ginger. The marriage of the natural sweetness from the onions with the tanginess from the tomatoes works well. Once the thick sauce is ready, I added the chanal dal, drizzled a bit of water to thin the texture of the dish and added the signature Indian finishing touch of garam masala. Lulu and the girls absolutely loved it! Hopefully Daddy will come around as well.


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Ultay Pultay Recipe (Indian Chana Pancake Curry) Recipe

Ultay pultay is what my father-in-law (I call him "Daddy"), who's a vegetarian, considers a festive dish. This dish is composed of thin, firmly pressed chickpea pancakes soaked in spicy gravy. The cooking time was a bit a long but seeing Daddy enjoy his meal was so rewarding. 

I learned to make ultay pultay from Lulu's paternal grandmother's sister. The entire family calls her Muni Baji in Urdu, which translates to "little sister" in English and she's indeed the youngest of a large brood; Lulu's grandmother was the eldest.

It was a lot of fun learning the curry dish from Muni Baji. She told me a lot of stories about her life in Hyderabad. For instance, the gravy calls for fried onion paste and back in the day, there was no blender so it was puréed by hand!


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