We’re still in the first week of January, which means healthy eating for a lot of us. It’s a time of salad lunches and light dinners following the excesses of Christmas and the drinking of New Year’s Eve. Come mid-January though, I find myself dispelling a lot of these healthy notions in favour of some real comfort food, and that’s what I’ll be focusing on this month largely.
Hara chana and those extra long and bright red carrots are in season, and I have been itching to work with them for some time now. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know of the Carrot Sabzi us Sindhis make this time of the year. Green garlic and the delhiwale carrots make one of my favourite dishes. Find the recipe for that here.
As for the hara chana, I was thinking of going the mezze way with them- I’ve made some spiced falafels and served them with roasted carrot hummus, again spiked with some spice. Fill up those pita pockets with the falafels, add a few spoonfuls of creamy sweet-savoury hummus, leaves and some cherry tomatoes. Makes for a great packed lunch, in my opinion. The hara chana was available with small vendors outside Khar’s wet market. The pods they come in look like little grapes- when their flimsy wrappers are pulled back, you can see the fresh green chickpea inside. The hara chana tastes a bit like peas, with a sweeter more vegetal flavour in my opinion. They are best in hara bhara kebabs, which made me wonder how they would taste as a falafel.
Hara Chana Falafels
Fresh Hara chana 250g, pressure cooked with water for 15 minutes over medium-heat, or till it yields easily when pressed between your index finger and thumb.
Garlic 2-3 cloves, minced
Green chillies 1-2, de-seed if you want it less hot
Onion 1 medium-sized, chopped very finely
Mint few leaves, chopped
Coriander a small handful, chopped
Salt and pepper
Ground coriander 1 tsp
Ground cumin 1 tsp
Garam masala 1/2 tsp
Baking powder 1 tsp
Sesame seeds 2 tbsp
Vegetable oil for deep-frying.
In a food processor, pulse together the garlic and the green chillies. To this, add the hara chana and pulse again. Remove this mixture to a plate. Add to this the finely chopped onion, the chopped mint and coriander leaves, all the dry spice powders, the salt and pepper and finally the sesame seeds. Briefly work the batter, that is combine with the tips of your fingers till everything is just combined. Stop at this stage and check for more salt.
Shape into balls or small patties and get ready to deep-fry. Check if the oil is hot enough by adding a bit of bread to the oil. If it is hot enough, it should turn a golden-brown in about 20 seconds. If the oil is not hot enough, the falafel will break.
Work in batches. Drop the falafels into the hot oil and deep-fry for 3 minutes till golden. Use a slotted spoon to fish out the falafels and drain on paper towels.
Roasted Red Carrot Hummus
Red carrots 250g
Garlic 2-3 cloves
Olive oil 2 tbsp, plus more
Chickpeas 200g, soaked overnight, then pressure cooked for 3 whistles or till it yields easily when pressed between your index finger and thumb. Reserve the bean water
Tahini 1 tbsp
Lemon juice 1 tbsp
Bean water from cooking the chickpeas Just a few tablespoonfuls
Cumin 1/2 tsp
Sonth or Dry ginger 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala 1/2 tsp
Ground coriander 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder 1/2 tsp
Salt and pepper
Coriander chopped finely, for garnishing
Pita bread to serve
Salad greens to serve
Cherry tomatoes to serve
In a hot oven preheated to 200 degrees celsius, roast the red carrots with the garlic and the tablespoonful of olive oil in a foil-lined baking tray. Once the carrot yields easily when a knife is pricked into it, about 20 minutes later, take it out of the oven. Process the roasted carrots together with the garlic and the little bits of oil that you can get from the foil together with the chickpeas.
Next, add in the tahini, lemon juice, cumin, ginger, garam masala, ground coriander, chilli powder, some salt and pepper, and blitz again. Loosen the mixture with some of the bean water and taste for salt. The mixture ought to be smooth by now. Spoon the hummus out of the processor and top with oil and sprinkle over some coriander. Serve.