The protein-packed, fairly beloved chickpeas are an integral part of Indian cuisine. As kids, we loved the sight of the pale-skinned and stubby nuggets as they dropped like a bunch of rocks into a stainless steel pot where they would be soaked in water overnight, and would watch in wonderment as the lid was flipped over to reveal pleasantly plumped-up beans in the morning. The pungent aromas of roasted fennel, coriander, red chillies and cumin, along with the sharp bite of cardamom, cloves, cinnamon..the headiness of onion-garlic-ginger fried to a golden brown finish, of ripe and juicy tomato chunks ceding to the oil..would linger on tantalizingly as the chickpeas, once cooked to a soft and tubery consistency, were steeped in a savory and spicy sauce, to scoop up with hot pooris – a weekend treat, typically.
Of course, there are a handful of other ways to use them that have stood the test of time, including chaats and hummusy varieties, but that’s never stopped us from putting a fresh spin on things, like in our Chickpea Pops, for instance. And knowing fully well that that decrees movie time in our households, we had to shake things up a bit to maintain the after-school decorum. As an extension of our favorite childhood memory that pretty much defined Sundays for us, we came up with a tangy, kicked-up warm Chickpea Salad that can be served all on its own as a weekday snack that is both healthy and fun, and not just for the school-goers.
Minty Masala Chickpea Salad
- 2 Cans chickpeas or 3 cups cooked chickpeas
- ½ Cup mint leaves, loosely packed
- ½ Cup cilantro/coriander leaves, loosely packed
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- 1 Heaped tablespoon grated fresh ginger root
- 2 Thai/Indian green chillies or jalapenos, slit
- 1 Teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ Teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 Teaspoon cayenne or red chilli powder
- 1/8 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 Teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 Teaspoon ground fennel
- 1 Bay leaf
- Salt to taste
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- If you are using canned chickpeas, drain and rinse them, then set aside.
- Wash and dry the mint and cilantro/coriander. Finely chop them up in a food processor or by hand. Set aside.
- Warm the oil in a large skillet placed on medium heat and add the ginger and chillies/jalapenos. Cook until the ginger is fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Toss in the coriander, cumin, cayenne/red chilli powder, cinnamon, turmeric, fennel, bay leaf and salt. Stir for a few seconds to allow the spices to toast up. Add the chickpeas and toss well with the spices. Stir in the tomato paste. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for about 7-8 minutes so that the chickpeas absorb the flavors. Stir occasionally. Finally, mix in the cilantro and mint that were chopped earlier, and the lemon juice and turn off the heat. You can serve them warm, but they’re also good at room temperature.
We like to serve these as an appetizer, especially when dinner is going to be late or serve bowlfuls for a wholesome and filling after-school snack. Add some whole-wheat pita bread and tzatziki if you’d like to make a light lunch of it. Or take along a box to munch at an outdoor picnic.
Find more Indian-inspired recipes using everyday ingredients in our new eBook – MANGO MASALA: 60 Indian Recipes From Your Local Supermarket..now available on Amazon.com.