Wholewheat farata was on my menu for lunch today. After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast I had all the energy and enthusiasm it required to punch down and roll out farata dough. The main thing I have to worry about faratas is the filling. It is never simple to decide upon the combination of fillings on any particular day given the endless yummy possibilites one can dream of. 

Today I just had enough time for touffé de brèdes chouchou, steamed potato & aubergine slices and spicy chickpea curry to accompany my wholewheat faratas. Since I was running on tight schedule I did not have the leisure of taking as many pics as I normally would 😦

I find it convenient to boil large amounts of chickpeas and keep them frozen in ziplock bags. I simply have to thaw some and toss into anything I feel like. It also saves me from the frustration of forgetting to soak them overnight. The subtle nutty flavour of chickpeas and their cute plump shape makes them look and taste good in many things – ranging from a simple salad to more complex dishes like a vegan/vegetarian biryani.

Chana masala – chickpeas in thick spicy gravy – is Punjabi in origin and is a regular component of veg thalis sold in restaurants and foodcourts. The best I remember was on the valentine’s day menu at the Indian resto in Phoenix Les Halles. I’m still trying to recreate its pungent tomato based sauce with varying degrees of success but not quite there.

I therefore chose to dabble with this recipe from Cooking with Kurma. While not being what I was looking for, the resulting punjabi chole was quite well received by those who shared lunch with me. Guess I’ll have to keep experimenting till it hits me as perfect.

Don’t be daunted by the long list of ingredients. I bet you should have most of them in your kitchen already. If not, it won’t be difficult to find them all in the spices section of your supermarket. Asafoetida powder might prove to be somewhat elusive; I replaced it with 1/2 tsp crushed garlic.

And btw always finish off hot&spicy indian meals with yogurt or any light milk based dessert. It will be easier on your digestive system. A colourful fruit salad might also be quite refreshing. 

CHANA MASALA – CHICKPEA CURRY

 

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas/garbanzo beans

6 cups water

1 bay leaf

Seeds from 4 cardamom pods

6 whole cloves

5 black peppercorns

One 5 cm cinnamon stick, broken into bits

1 tbs cumin seeds/ petit anis

4 tbs oil or ghee

1 tbs fresh ginger, finely minced

1 tsp hot green chili, minced

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp yellow asafoetida powder/hing

3/4 tsp turmeric/haldi

2 tsp sweet paprika

1 tbs ground coriander

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

2 tsp salt

3 tbs chopped fresh coriander or parsley

 Method:

  • Wash and drain chickpeas. Soak overnight in water in a covered pan.
  • Drain chickpeas and place with bay leaf in a heavy saucepan or pressure cooker with 6cups water. Bring to the boil over high heat.
  • Reduce heat to moderate and simmer for 1 hour until butter-soft but not broken.  Remove from heat.

  • Drain but reserve the liquid. Discard the bay leaf.
  • Place 1/3 cup cooked drained chickpeas in blender/ food processor with a little cooking liquid. Process to a smooth puree. Set aside.
  • In a grinder/blender, crush cardamom seeds, whole cloves, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick, and cumin seeds to a powder.

  • Heat oil in a heavy pan over moderately high heat.
  • Stir in the fresh ginger and green chili and saute for 1 minute.
  • Add cayenne, asafoetida, turmeric, paprika, and ground coriander. 
  • Then add ground spice powder, chickpeas, lemon juice, salt, pureed chickpeas, and enough of chickpea cooking water to make a gravy.

  • Cook for 10 minutes over low heat until gravy is slightly reduced.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot.  Makes 4 to 6 servings.

For the afternoon I made some granola bars. They were more like snack bars though since I hiked up their calorie level by stirring in a whole box of Baker’s Choc-kits [that was nearing its expiry date]. While not being as healthy as I had originally planned, I was happy with the faint hint chocolate and peanuts in every bite. I should be making a healthier version soon 🙂

CHOC-KITS SNACK BARS

Ingredients:

2 cups quick cooking oats

1 box [200g] Baker’s Choc-kits

1/2 cup whole almonds

1/2 cup unsalted peanuts

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup raisins/ dried fruit

1/4 cup sesame seeds

3 tbs unsalted butter

1/4 cup golden syrup

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla extract

 

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350 oF. Line a 9×9 inch square pan with foil.
  • Coarsely chop or grind whole almonds and peanuts.
  • Roast almonds, peanuts, oats, sesame seeds and coconut in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Turn a fork through mixture every 5 minutes to ensure even browning. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

 

  • Crush Choc-kits into pieces or process into a powder using a food processor. Place crumbs in a large mixing bowl.
  • Stir in toasted oats mixture and raisins/dried fruit.
  • In a small saucepan, combine butter, vanilla extract and syrups. Heat over low until butter melts and mixture becomes thin and runny.
  • Make a well in dry ingredients and pour hot syrup into it.

  • Mix until well combined. It will form a loose sticky mixture.
  • Press mixture evenly into prepared pan with fingers and level surface.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. It will still be soft to touch.
  • If you like them crumbly instead of chewy, increase baking time to 25 minutes. Be careful not to overbake them or they will be dry & brittle.

  • Remove pan from oven and cool completely before you attempt to cut into bars. Cutting through the hot mixture will cause it to crumble.
  • Leave mixture in pan so that it hardens for an hour or two.
  • Wrap bars individially in clingfilm or greaseproof paper and store for upto 1 week. Great for picnics and hiking.
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