Kabuli chanay is truly a Subcontinental and Mediterranean favourite; across borders, ethnicities, religion, caste and colour. It is consumed during Ramazan, can be served at tea time, dinners, coffee mornings, and even makes for a great while-out-shopping snack. One of my favourite things about Kabuli chanay is that all cooks and cuisines make and serve it a little differently, giving it their own personal and cultural twist. The sides and garnishes are different, the chutneys and masalas served on the side can be of any variety, ranging from the hot haree and lal chutneys to sweet and tart imli, amchur and nembo chutneys, tahini sauce and hummus with pita or naan.

How would you best describe Chickpea Salad?

Fundamentally it is a simple salad, loaded with carbohydrates and an explosion of taste. The base could simply be chickpeas, boiled potatoes, fried fritters or papri (crackers), dahi barras, samosas, puffed rice, legume or chickpea snacks, served with a variety of chutneys, sauces, tahini sauce and dahi (yoghurt), topped with chopped vegetables such as tomatoes, onions, green chillies, green onions, cucumbers, feta cheese and garnished with cilantro, mint or endless possibilities.

Kabuli chanay/chickpea is a Subcontinental and Mediterranean fare. And there is variety to choose from, including kala chana, Kabuli chana and the list of legumes goes on. Chanay is a legume, and when legumes are hulled and split, it is observed that they make for easy cooking and digestion. The Subcontinent and the Mediterranean region are known for innovatively cooking chanay in a variety of ways.

The interesting thing about chickpeas is that it may be eaten as a whole or as a split pulse, and it’s the grains that are used as cholay chana. Chickpea has been known to Asia and Europe for over eight to 10 thousand years and was cultivated in both continents. Archeologists claim that its earliest cultivation may have been in the regions encompassing the Mediterranean, Persia, Afghanistan and the lands surrounding it. History suggests that the subcontinent may also have been its place of birth; hence the wide use of chickpea in Pakistan, India and the Mediterranean, ranging from hummus, pakorra, puri chana, dal ka halwa and the list goes on.

Enjoy this chickpea salad with chutneys and masalas of your own choice and beat the lockdown blues

This past month of Ramazan, I made the Baleda chickpea and fresh vegetable salad, and served it as a side with doner kebab, raita and hot naan, it was a real hit.

Here it is, from my kitchen to yours.

Baleda Salad

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 green bell pepper, cored and chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (optional)
2 1/2 tomatoes slice in halves if you like, or leave whole
3-5 green onions, both white and green parts, chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (use ones that have been preserved in jars with olive oil)
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 cup pitted green olives
1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley or cilantro leaves
1/2 cup freshly chopped mint or basil leaves

For Dressing

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and black pepper, a generous pinch to your taste
1 teaspoon ground sumac 
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper  
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

Method

In a large bowl, mix together the salad ingredients: chickpeas, vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and fresh herbs. In a separate smaller bowl or jar, mix together the dressing ingredients: extra virgin olive oil, white vinegar, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper and spices. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and mix gently to coat. Leave aside for 30 minutes before serving or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, give the salad a quick mix and taste to adjust seasoning if at all needed. Enjoy!

Hummus

Ingredients

2 cups boiled chickpeas
2 tablespoons tahini sesame paste
A drizzle extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 clove garlic, crushed
Himalayan salt to taste
1/2 lemon, juiced
Pita breads, grilled and cut into wedges for dipping

Method

Combine beans, tahini, oil, pepper flakes, cumin, coriander, garlic, salt and lemon juice in a food processor bowl and grind into a smooth paste. Transfer to a small dip dish and surround spread with warm pita wedges. This recipe makes a great appetiser or snack.

Published in Dawn, EOS, June 14th, 2020