May 26, 2013

Ashtami Channa

Ashtami is the 8th Day of a 9 Day period called Navaratri. Celebrated across India these days are dedicated to the worship of the Goddess Durga. Although Navaratri is celebrated five times a year according the lunar calendar, the ones that mark the beginning of spring and the beginning of fall are considered to be the most important ones. On the 8th day, a feast is prepared and prepubescent girls across the country, believed to be the pure and mortal image of the Goddess, are honored with food, toys, new clothes and love. The feast includes Halva (Fine Semolina, Clarified Butter, Sugar and Nuts), Puri (Deep-fried Flatbread) and Channa (this dish). This year's Spring Navaratri is long gone but I felt the urge to make these beans last night. Of course, my version has no butter and is uber-healthy compared to the traditional recipe :)!!

Ashtami Channa
Prep Time: 30 min (with pre-soaked beans)

Ingredients (6 Servings):

  1. 1.5 cups Dry Bengal Gram (also called Kala (Black) Channa (Chickpeas)
  2. 1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
  3. 1 tbsp MDH Channa Masala*
  4. 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  5. 1 tbsp Onion Powder
  6. 3-4 tbsp Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  7. 2 tbsp A1 Steak Sauce
  8. 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  9. Salt and Pepper, to taste
Ashtami Channa
Pre-soak the beans for at least 4-6 hours in tap water. Drain and rinse the pre-soaked beans (discard the soaking water as that can cause gas issues). Pressure cook the beans in 2x the quantity of water, with some added salt for 15 min under high pressure. Release steam. Drain the beans (save the water this time for use in this dish and also later as stock). Transfer the drained beans to a skillet with a splash of the saved stock and add all the above spices. Mix well. Add another splash or two of the stock to ensure that all the spices are mixed well. Cook for a couple of minutes to allow spices to blend and cook and release their aroma. Taste test for salt, adding more as needed. Cover, remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes. 

Bengal Gram (Kala Channa) is a cousin of the Chick pea, or Garbanzo bean. It is very high in protein and has a very low glycemic index. It is also a great source of zinc, phosphorous and folic acid. The dry bean is easily found in Indian grocery stores. Try it, you will fall in love with the taste and unique flavor of this bean.

* Chana Masala is a blend of premixed spices that are ideal for chickpea and bengal gram curries. However, this blend is usually spicy because of the specific mix of spices so use with caution. The MDH brand contains coriander, salt, dry mango, pomegranate seeds, chilli powder, cumin, musk melon, black pepper, black salt, fenugreek leaves, cloves, mint, nutmeg, dry ginger, cinnamon, bay Leaf, cardamom and ammomum (black cardamom) seeds, caraway and mace.

My Assessment: I love this dish. I always have. Although this had some non-traditional ingredients in it, I think I got the taste. The inclusion of nutritional yeast and A1 Steak Sauce (tomato paste, vinegar, corn syrup, salt, raisin paste, crushed orange puree, spices and herbs, dried garlic and onion and caramel color, Its vegan!!) added a creaminess to the dish which isn't always there. The traditional dish is a tad dry and I think inclusion of these 2 ingredients added some extra oompf!! :)   

Nutritional Facts (Per Serving): Calories 98(Fat Calories 8)
Total Fat 0.9 g; Carbohydrates 19.3 g; Fiber 3.3 g; Sugars 0.5 g; Protein 4.7 g

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