Chana Masala, Take 5


It’s been almost two years since my last chana masala recipe and that seems like a dangerous length of time. I still have a large stock of Rancho Gordo’s desi chana—which I don’t think they are carrying anymore or planning to bring back. When I cook them, I tend to cycle between the three recipes for those chickpeas that I’ve previously posted (here, here, and here). Of late, however, I’ve hit upon a variation that I like quite a bit more than those. Part of it is that the preparation involves a not unusual method of cooking the chickpeas with a bit of baking soda. This helps them soften up very nicely (and much quicker than without even in my old-school pressure cooker). The masala meanwhile is made very tangy with a fair bit of tamarind and cumin (along with other spices). It’s very tasty indeed and I recommend it highly. If you don’t have a large stock of desi chana and don’t have easy access to an Indian store, you can just use regular Rancho Gordo garbanzos (but you may not need to use the baking soda in that case). Whichever variety of chickpeas you do use, I think you’ll like it. Continue reading

Chana Masala, Take 3


Way back in January, before there was a global pandemic, I posted a recipe for chana masala made with kala or desi chana. These smaller, darker chickpeas (compared to garbanzo beans aka Kabuli chana in India) have, as I said then, been eaten in India much longer than garbanzo beans. They can be prepared very similarly but are far from identical. They’re smaller and their skins are harder and their texture much denser; and their flavour is earthier and not as “sweet” as good garbanzo beans can be. So far, so repetitious. Here’s something new: back in January I’d said that I’d heard a rumour that Rancho Gordo—the Californian purveyor of bespoke beans—might soon start carrying desi chana. 10 months later that rumour has turned to fact. Rancho Gordo’s desi chana will be going on sale around Thanksgiving. If you’re not in their Bean Club (yes, I know) you’ll have to punch other people in the mouth to get them into your cart when they go on sale. (Well, you’ll be shopping online but you can always imagine.) Since I’m special (by which I mean, I know things Steve S. of Rancho Gordo doesn’t want you to know about his whereabouts in April of 1982), I was sent a few packets of these to play with before you heathens get anywhere near them. You can therefore view this as a sort of sponsored post if you like—I can certainly be purchased for less than the price of a few packets of beans. More accurate would be that Steve and I are old friends and that he clearly doesn’t need a D-list food blogger like me to talk him up when he has all of the North American food world falling over itself to praise his beans. At any rate, I’ve made a few different preps with them and this is the one the missus thinks I should share first with the public. Continue reading

Chana Masala, Take 2


This is a dish prepared in two ways that are unusual for me. First, it uses non-Rancho Gordo chickpeas. That is because this uses kala chana or black chickpeas (though in practice they’re usually a dark brown). These smaller, darker chickpeas have been eaten in India much longer than the relatively recently arrived garbanzo bean or Kabuli chana—which name likely refers to its direction of entry. Kala chana has an earthier flavour and denser texture than Kabuli chanaa and maintains its shape as it cooks. Rancho Gordo does not currently sell kala chana (though I have heard a rumour this may change in the near future). It is, however, easily found in South Asian groceries and also on Amazon. Non-Rancho Gordo beans means a longer stovetop cooking time but if you use a pressure cooker—as I do—this is not an issue. Continue reading