Cooking Chickpeas In The Indian Style
28.06.2016 35 °C
As a child, I love to eat boiled Indian chickpeas.
Being a Chinese family, the chickpeas and other legumes have never been listed as one of the buying items written on our grocery list. We had a stereotypical belief that only the Indians eat chickpeas.
When I was still a boy, buying the boiled chickpeas from the Indian street peddler for as little as 20 sen, I will get some boiled chickpeas wrapped in newspaper folded up in a cone. Even if we paid a little more, we still couldn’t have enough of boiled chickpeas to share out among our siblings. So, one day, we decided to buy the chickpeas from the grocery store and try to boil it ourselves.
The chickpeas bought from the grocery store were dried, and they were as hard as a rock. We threw all the chickpeas into the cooking pot, lighted the stove fire and began to boil them. After an hour, we did not find any tenderness in the chickpeas boiling on the stove fire. So, we boiled the chickpeas over again on the stove and the boiling process made us lasted for several hours.
We boiled the chickpeas as though we had no common sense. We did not understand that the hard-rocked chickpeas bought from the store needed to be soaked before boiling them. We cannot boil the chickpeas that were delivered straight from the shelf. Boiling chickpeas was as easy as learning ABC but because we were lacking of cooking skill, we surrendered to the cooking mishap and ended up eating the uncooked, half-tendered chickpeas.
If you boil the chickpeas that are delivered straight from the shelf without having them soaked, chances are, the chickpeas will not turn soft and you will get a half-tender, half-hard chickpeas as a result. After that, no matter how you boil these chickpeas again on the stove, they will not turn tender and soft.
Colloquially, in our minor dialect, this cookery setback we called it - a muted blow. The chickpeas that have not been soaked will never be properly cooked as the chickpea pods have already suffered a muted blow.
Now, when I cook chickpeas, I soak them overnight in a pot for about 10 hours before I boiled them in the following morning. The chickpeas that have been soaked overnight will need a shorter cooking time to cook, and that the boiling process will take about 45 minutes only before I can drain the boiling water off from the pot.
I have my recipe in cooking a chickpea dish with a very archaic Hokkien style. Firstly, I stir fry the cut ring-onions in the hot oil. After which, I add soy sauce to the onions. Then, I throw all the soft-boiled chickpeas into the wok. To simmer the chickpeas, I pour plenty the soy sauce and adding some water into the wok, and let the chickpeas simmer in the wok for about 10 minutes. After that, I’ll switch off the stove fire and serve the chickpea dish.
I find cooking chickpea dishes in soy sauce is not as tasty as cooking them in the Indian style using spices. After all, the chickpeas are considered one of the staple foods in the Indian diet. The Indians know well their way in cooking their staple diet than we are, the non-Indians.
I have many times cooked the chickpea meals in the Indian style with some add on spices. I love the aroma of the cumin seeds after frying them in the wok, but my family members do not find the strong aroma of the cumin seeds a pleasure.
I do not store spices in the cabinet. I do not normally cook our dishes at home with spices. Like any ordinary Chinese family, the amount of spices, especially the Indian spices, used in our home cooking is extremely rare. Of the variable types of Indian spices like turmeric, cumin, fennel, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and star anise and etc, only one spice is commonly used by the Chinese in their cooking. It is the star anise. The star anise is usually used in the Chinese cooking to stew the loin pork in the pot for additional aroma.
Using the same Indian spices, I also cook dhal, a dish made of red lentils. When I cook dhal, I use plenty of cumin seeds, turmeric powder and green chillies. I also add to the boiling lentils with some fennel and a little amount cinnamon. Cooking lentils with such spices, the pungent aroma coming out from the cooking pot fills the air, and I feel I am cooking in the kitchen of an Indian house. When my father eats the dhal, he likes the dish and he has no complaints about the pungent aroma of the spices I threw into the pot of the dhal.
Eat more spices, they are healthy.