I've cooked a lot of beans and lentils in my day. I've eaten even more beans, starting in childhood with one of the favorite foods of Italians, the ceci bean. I don't think my mother ever served a meal where ceci beans didn't figure in somehow. Stews, salads, whatever, the ubiquitous can of cecis was always a kitchen staple. As I got older I discovered cecis don't have to automatically involve a can opener. They can be bought dry and soaked and cooked. Big news, mom wasn't interested. Then when I started cooking Indian food 26 years ago I started cooking chole , (aka ceci beans, aka, garbanzos) and discovered that chole also involved a wonderful gluten-free flour known as Besan. I began to use Besan in all sorts of dishes from savories to desserts. I thought I knew all there was to know about garbanzo beans. Uh uh, as it turned out I had never discovered the world of fresh green chickpeas.
About a year ago I noticed a bin of fresh green chickpeas at my local Whole Foods. I didn't buy any that day, figuring I'd come back in a few and pick some up. Big mistake. The next time I returned to the market, they were gone. I couldn't seem to find them anywhere, not even at our local Farmers Market. Until last week that is. I was prowling the vegetable aisle one afternoon and there staring me in the face was a giant pile of fresh green garbanzos!!!! This time I didn't hesitate. I bought a pound. What was I going to make? I'd figure that out later. This time I wasn't going to miss out. As it turns out cooking fresh chickpeas is a pretty easy process. They're soft and they cook up in just a few minutes, they can even be skillet roasted in their pods like edamame, and eaten that way. I decided however that I'd use mine for a Meatless Monday dish of chole masala.
Fresh Chickpea Masala
Here's What You Want:
1 cup of shelled fresh chickpeas
1/2 teaspoon of finely minced fresh ginger
1 whole green serrano chili
1/2 Tbs of choppped fresh or canned tomato
1/4 cu pof water
1/4 cup of plain yogurt
handful of fresh curry leaves (if you don't have them, omit them)
1 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp Kashmiri chili
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
1 and 1/2 Tbs vegetable oil, I use coconut oil
2 Tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
Here's What To Do:
Shell the fresh garbanzo beans
It's very similar to shelling peas, but slower as only one bean resides in each pod. However, it's satisfying when completed.
Set the shelled beans aside.
Fill a 1/4 cup with water.
Mix together the Kashmiri chili, ground coriander, and turmeric and add them to the water.
Mix this together well and set it aside.
Heat the oil in a skillet or kadhai.
When the oil is hot add in the cumin seeds and mustard seeds.
When the cumin and mustard seeds start to sizzle and pop add in the whole green chili, ginger, tomato, and curry leaves. Stir to mix well.
After these have sizzled for a minute or two add in the water and spice combo.
When the water and spices come to a boil, turn down the heat to simmer and add in the yogurt.
Stir the yogurt into the mix well, to keep it from curdling.
When it's thoroughly blended in and no white is showing add in the chickpeas, salt, and garam masala.
Stir everything together well.
Put a lid on the pan.
Simmer everything until all the liquid evaporates and there is a thick gravy. This takes about 15 minutes or so. Check every now and then to make sure nothing is sticking or burning.
I went out to the garden and cut some fresh cilantro.
Chop about 3 Tbs of fresh cilantro and sprinkle it over the finished dish and serve it up!
This makes enough warm and spicy chickpea masala for two people. Serve it with some rice and chapatti, or another vegetable. I'm sorry I'd never found fresh chickpeas before, but now that I have, I'm definitely going back for more while they last! Coming up next, more fresh Spring recipes featuring Indian spices. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori