Saturday, December 26, 2015

Indian Chickpea Salad

The second time we made the chana dal recipe, I made a chickpea salad to go along with it. I may have mentioned on the blog that I love chickpea salads, so I was excited to try one with an Indian twist to it. I mostly followed a recipe for Indian-spiced chickpea salad with yogurt and herbs by Chef Jerry Traunfeld that I found on Food & Wine, making just a few adjustments.

The ingredients I used were (amounts from original recipe here, but I mostly eyeballed it):

- 2 cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed ($1.56)
- 2 spoonfuls of coconut oil ($0.20)
- 1 tsp brown mustard seeds ($0.20) *
- 3/4 tsp cumin seeds ($0.05) *
- 3/4 tsp fennel seeds ($0.20) *
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes ($0.05) *
- 3/4 cup whole milk yogurt ($1.50)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice ($0.15)
- 6 scallions, finely chopped ($0.43)
- handful of chopped cilantro ($0.40)
- handful of chopped mint ($0.90)
- salt to taste ($0.05)

With estimations for the approximate amount of the spices, the dish was approximately $5.69. We ate it with the dal and a little bit of rice for a tasty, affordable dinner. Compared to the original recipe, I swapped out peanut oil for coconut oil (since we don't own peanut oil) and used a lot more scallions (since ours were nearing the end of their life and I wanted to use them up). Otherwise, I mostly kept to the original other than not measuring amounts. In the future, I would use more of the starred spices (see last paragraph of this post), so the price would be slightly more, but not dramatically so.

The most time-intensive part of the salad was the washing and chopping, which I expected, and the fact that I was trying to do all that while working on the dal at the same time. Anyway, the basic steps were:

1. Drain, rinse, and dry chickpeas.

2. Make spice oil in small skillet. Heat coconut oil. Add mustard seeds. Cover skillet with a splatter guard and heat mustard seeds until they stop popping. Add cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant (but not more than 30 seconds). Remove from heat and pour on top of chickpeas.

(As a side note, after making this, I'm starting to wonder if I was always "under-toasting" mustard seeds. I remember before the first time I cooked with mustard seeds, I had read something which warned about mustard seeds tasting really unpleasant if you heated them for too long. I don't recall them popping as much as they did this time the other times I made them. Now I know!)

3. Add cilantro, scallions, mint, yogurt, lemon juice to the chickpeas. Add salt to taste. Mix together well and eat.

(That's the order you're supposed to do them in. Did I mention we have a small kitchen and not much counter space? In order to get everything chopped, I ended up adding the scallions and cilantro before the hot oil, and then just tried to pour the hot oil directly on the section of the bowl that only held chickpeas. Seemed fine.)

This salad was really good. It was light and fresh because of all the scallions and herbs and yogurt, and the flavors of the spices were a nice change from the chickpea salads we usually make. The only change I think I would make in the future is to use more of the spices, probably double the amount. It was good as it was, but we think that would make it even better. We would definitely make this again.

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