Let me start by saying that when I started this blog, at the insistence of my youngest sister, Hina, I thought it would help me kill some time, explore my creative writing skills, have some fun! A part of me even thought it would be romantic to have this blog live on in posterity as a sign of my love for Mr. Mazhar and in my words, his love for me…. I never imagined anybody, who didn’t know me, would read it…and I certainly never thought anyone would try my recipes. I have confessed before and I’ll do so again, I’m no chef, no expert. I just knock about my kitchen till something resembling dinner comes together and Mazhar has a happily filled tummy (and hopefully a happy heart as well). So it humbles me and honours me a great deal when my family and friends read and try my recipes and make requests that I share and write about something special they would like to try. All this prelude is to honor the request of my dear, dear friend, Cristina Bento, who is a vegetarian and has asked me to share some easy vegetarian dishes for her to try.
After I had the conversation with Cristina, I browsed through all my posts so far and I realised that we eat a lot of meat and sugar! Except for the two posts of fish recipes, one for spinach and one for the eggplant yogurt dip all the other posts are meat dishes or desserts! So I want to thank Cristina for letting me know we are not getting our share of veggies, Mazhar and I. And this week we are going to be eating vegetarian meals only! Oh no, Mazhar is about to faint! Hahahahaaa! Don’t worry Mazhar, I’ll make something meaty as a side dish for you 😉 but I’ll definitely be writing about vegetables and seafood! This week is dedicated to my friend Cristina. Hope you enjoy reading and cooking these recipes!
I’ll start you off with something simple. It’s a spicy, tangy, chickpea dish which is a staple for breaking fast during Ramadan but we also have it during the rest of the year as a tea-time favorite or as an appetiser. It’s called Cholay Chaat or Channa Chaat, both of which mean chickpea….chaat! I can’t think of a translation for chaat, sorry! What’s in a name! I’m sure once you try it you will like it. So here goes.
- 1 can chickpeas / garbanzo beans, drained and washed
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 tsp olive oil / vegetable oil
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds, whole
- 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- 1 medium or 2 small potatoes, peeled and quartered (optional)
- 1 small red onion, finely sliced
- 1 tomato, chopped (into small squares)
- 1-2 green chillies, finely sliced
- 1/2 bunch coriander leaves, finely chopped (set some aside for garnish)
- 1-3 tbsp tamarind chutney / sauce
- 1-4 tsp chaat masala
- 1-2 tsp lemon juice
- Take a deep breath and don’t be intimidated by the number of ingredients. This is a one pot wonder and very simple 🙂
- In a small saucepan, place the drained and washed chickpeas. Add the water, oil, spices and parsley and give it a stir. Place the saucepan on a low flame, cover with a lid and let it cook for 10-12 minutes or till the water is almost dry (but not completely). You can add potatoes at this stage for an extra special bite. I like potatoes with the chickepeas but Mazhar doesn’t, hence they are optional….depending on my mood with Mr. Mazhar 😉
- While the chickpeas are boiling, chop the onions, tomatoes, green chillies, coriander leaves and keep them ready on the side. As soon as the chickpeas water is almost dried (and the potatoes are cooked through, if added), turn off the flame and add these ingredients into the saucepan. Next spoon through the tamarind and chaat masala. You can add as much or as little chaat masala as you like to suit your palate for spicy tolerance. Finish off with the lemon juice, mix it all together with a spoon and cover the lid back on the saucepan. The residual heat from the pan will help soften the onions, tomatoes and chillies. They don’t need to be cooked.
- After 15 minutes, take the lid off the saucepan, transfer the chickpeas with all its beautiful flavours into a serving dish. Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves and/ or green chillies.
This dish is best eaten a little spicy and sour. But everyone’s palate and tolerance for spicy or sour foods is different. So my suggestion is that you start by adding a teaspoon or even half a teaspoon of the tamarind, chaat masala and lemon juice and keep tasting to suit your palate. Both tamarind chutney and chaat masala are easily available in most grocery stores. I recommend the Pakistani brands of Shan or National for chaat masala and Mitchell’s or National for tamarind sauce. See, so easy! Hope you like it! Keep reading my blog and trying out my recipes. And stay tuned for some vegetarian goodness coming your way! Happy cooking everyone!