Chana Madra / Chickpeas in Yoghurt gravy
The recipe in discussion today is from the famous tourist destination / State, Himachal Pradesh. When we think of Himachal, the first thing that comes to our mind are the snow clad mountains, the cool breeze, layers of woolen and the shivering nights.
Gosh, I would kill for a moment to be actually there right now since Mumbai is the exact opposite of cool. Thankfully writing about Himachal Pradesh is already making me feel better also the the breeze from the tower fan right next to my face and the ceiling fan over my head is providing the exact effect of me standing on the mountain top covered with jackets, woolens and caps. Ah! Writing does transport you and how.
The reality, however, is I am at home, sitting on a stool, typing out the last bits of the blog post while waiting for the house shifting to happen. A compulsory break for few days next month before I set up the house. It doesn’t help at all if you have a husband who travels compulsively and you have to manage things on your own but like I always believe, this too shall pass and soon the house and the normalcy will return.
I have to admit here that Himachal is a place we haven’t explored fully. Yet to visit many parts of the breathtaking region. Shimla, the tourist hot spot, the Queen of the Hills and the capital was the only one we visited couple of years back during the winters to experience snow for the very first time (for me). The beauty of the region, its humble and simple folks along with some delicious pahadi cuisine really made us extremely happy and the trip truly memorable. We found many of the dishes being similar to the North Indian cuisine. They do love their kadhi chawal with piping hot pakoras and the breakfasts are usually parathas stuffed with different fillings, ranging from aloo or potatoes, paneer or cottage cheese and the winter special gobhi or cauliflower. During winters, they serve it with a big dollop of butter on top that melts slowly ensuring that every single bite of that paratha is soaked in butter, only making you crave for more. In winters, its amazing how many parathas a person can gobble up and yet feel hungry for lunch.
Thanks to Shimla being a tourist destination, we could also experience restaurants that offered burgers, pizzas and the other varieties too which we don’t opt for usually when we travel and stick to the basics and local cuisine.
Himachal Pradesh even though draws its food influence majorly from North Indian states like Delhi, Punjab etc they do have their own regional specials too. Lentils, Pulses, Rice and Wheat along with seasonal vegetables are the basic food choices. While we found vegetarian food to be most popular, the paharis do love their meat. If you have visited Shimla, you would know that if the place is famous for the North Indian specials, you will also find a long line of shops that sell Tibetan food. The momos are extremely famous there and when it is the winter season, you would see a queue of both locals and tourists packing up their favourite momos that are steamed dumplings filled with either veggies, pork, chicken or meat.
The Himachali cuisine uses a variety of spices in their cuisine and usually have their gravies based with yoghurt. Dairy products are another favourite as the winters turn harsher, the consumption of ghee is increased with all the meals to ensure warmth to the body. We experienced eating Doodh with Imarti (The fat cousin of Jalebi) that was fried in ghee, some namakpare and mathhi during chai or tea time during our stay in Shimla.
A shoppers paradise, one of the best places to buy your woolens and shawls. The woolens and definitely cheaper and of excellent quality than the city shops. Also, they are available in all sizes which is a blessing for people like me.
When the Ssshhh Secretly Cooking Group decided that this month’s cuisine will be Himachal Pradesh and when my partner, Priya Satheesh who blogs at Priya’s Menu assigned me the two secret ingredients i.e. Chickpeas and Yoghurt, I knew that I had to make the Chana Madra which is a typical Pahari dish. Do check out Priya’s blog, she has recently completed working on 100 chutney recipes and each one is unique and bursting with flavours.
Unfortunately, I never tasted Madra while in Shimla but having read about this on the internet and the HP tourism blog, I am now very keen to try it hopefully during our next vacation in Himachal Pradesh during the winters.
Madra or Chana Madra is a delicacy that belongs to the Chamba and Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. Not only it is cooked as part of everyday meals, but during festive occasions, it’s a must.
Madra is basically Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans cooked in a yoghurt based sauce or gravy, spiced with a variety of flavourful masalas like bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, Cardamoms (both black and green) and tempered with jeera and ghee or clarified butter, I knew the lunch would be just perfect with some ghee laden hot phulkas on the side. This is a complete dish by itself and doesn’t need a dal or dry sabzi for company. Can be eaten with either steamed rice or some phulkas / parathas. Pulses help you stay full during the harsh winters especially in the hilly areas of Northern India and when vegetables are a bit scarce due to extreme snowfall in certain areas.
The recipe is from my dear friend Aruna’s Blog Aahaaram, who is also part of this group of bloggers who cook with secret ingredients monthly and here is the link to the recipe. She blogged about this dish way back in 2014 and found her inspiration from a cookbook to prepare this flavoursome one pot dish. I have made very little tweaks as per our taste and preferences.
Read the recipe below with step by step pics and make a steaming bowl of this during monsoons, I assure you, it would be as comforting as a delicious bowl of soup, way healthier too.
Recipe for Chana Madra / Chickpeas in Yoghurt Gravy
Prep Time – 15 minutes
Soaking Time – 8 hours
Cook Time – 30 to 40 minutes
Serves – 3 nos.
- 1.5 cups Chickpeas
- 1 cup Yoghurt or Dahi or Thick Curd
- 5-6 nos. cloves or Lavang
- ½ inch piece of Cinnamon or Dalchini
- 4 nos. Green cardamom or Choti Elaichi
- 1 no. Black Cardamom or Badi Elaichi
- Couple of Bay leaves or Tej patta
- ½ tsp turmeric powder or haldi
- 1 tsp Red chilli powder or Laal Mirch
- ½ tsp Coriander powder or Dhania powder
- ½ tsp roasted and crushed methi seeds / Fenugreek seeds
- ½ tsp Jeera or cumin seeds
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 2 tblsp Besan or Gram flour
- A pinch of Hing or asafoetida
- 1 tsp garam masala powder
- 1 tsp Ghee or Clarified butter
- ½ cup of water to adjust the consistency of the gravy + as required to cook the chickpeas in the pressure cooker
- Salt as per taste
- Soak the chickpeas for atleast 8 hours or preferably overnight and pressure cook them (with salt) for atleast 4-5 whistles until well cooked.
- 1.5 cups of soaked chickpeas will give you good quantity enough for atleast 3 to 4 persons.
- Dry roast the fenugreek seeds and crush them in a mortar and pestle.
- Heat a kadhai, add Jeera or cumin seeds and roast it well.
- Add all the whole masalas like cloves, cinnamon, elaichis, bay leaf and saute for a few seconds.
- Then add coriander powder, turmeric, hing, red chilli and saute for a few seconds.
- Add the boiled chickpeas and mix well and let it simmer with a lid on for atleast 10 minutes.
- Take some besan and mix with ¾ cup of water, whisk well so that there are no lumps.
- Add the above mixture to the chickpeas along with some coarsely crushed fenugreek seeds powder.
- Stir well and you will see that the chickpeas gravy will start to thicken.
- Add some salt at this stage and then add the whisked yoghurt along with some sugar.
- Let it simmer for 5 minutes on low flame and then add the garam masala powder.
- Mix well and let it once again simmer for 3-5 minutes before switching off the flame.
- Serve it hot with phulkas or steamed rice.
Recipe Notes –
- Ensure the yoghurt is not tangy and extremely fresh.
- Fenugreek seeds lend a lovely aroma to the dish so don’t skip it.
- The taste will be slightly similar to kadhi but more nutritious with the addition of chickpeas.
- Don’t let the gravy cook a lot after the addition of yoghurt, else it will split.
- This is a meal in itself. I happened to have the leftovers of this as my dinner meal minus any carbs the next day and it felt extremely full due to the protein packed chickpeas.
- This is a no onion garlic gravy making it ideal for people who tend to opt for non-spicy gravies.
- A Diabetic Friendly Recipe and can be eaten with either cooked millets or brown rice or Ragi / Nachni rotis to make it extremely filling and fibre rich.