Fry channa is one of those spicy snacks that’s sold by street vendors in either a cone shaped paper package or in reused bottles (like rum) all over the country. However my connection to fry channa is going to my moms cousin’s home for Divali and she would have a huge bowl for us to snack on while the many vegetarian culinary delights were making it’s way to the table. Though Ivy is no longer with us, I have fond memories of her and the way she always had time for a chat and her talents in the kitchen were unsurpassed.
By controlling the amount of pepper you add, this can be a treat enjoyed by everyone… but if its for you and your friends while enjoying some ‘beverages” don’t hold back on the heat. Let’s see how much heat they can handle!
Channa (Indian influence) is just another word for chickpeas or garbanzo beans.
The traditional way of making this is to fry in a couple cups of vegetable oil, then season. But in trying to give you a healthier option, we’ll roast these in the oven and you won’t be able to taste the difference, except they’ll be a bit healthier for you.
2 cups dried chick peas (channa)
4 cups water
1.5 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 habanero pepper (no seeds to control the heat)
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoon chopped shado beni
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Notes: You can certainly use any sort of hot pepper you like and add as much as you can tolerate. If you don’t have fresh hot peppers you can certainly use pepper sauce or cayenne powder, which would also give it a lovely kick. If you can’t source shado beni you can use cilantro or parsley. If using parsley, I would only use 1 tablespoon of it (it has that sort of bitter after-taste) When I did this recipe I used 3 tablespoon of olive oil (see the video), but I learned that I would have achieved the same results by cutting that by half.
The night before measure out the chickpeas into a large bowl and cover with 4 cups of water. Allow this to soak overnight. Remeber to use a large bowl as it will double in size as it soaks.
The next day you’ll notice a few things…. 1. Most of the water was absorbed by the chickpeas. 2. They’ve doubled in size. and 3. The color changed to a lighter shade. Drain whatever water was left back, rinse and place in a colander to drain off. We’re trying to get this as dry as possible for seasoning.
While this air-dries, lets prepare the seasoning. Chop as fine as you can, the garlic, shando beni (remember you can also use cilantro or parsley as well) and habanero pepper. Then in a small bowl, pour the olive oil (one and a half teaspoon) and add all pepper, garlic, shado beni and black pepper.
Pour the pre-soaked chickpeas into a large bowl and using a paper towel or kitchen towel, dry to get as much moisture as you can off the chickpeas. Now give the seasoned oil a good stir, then add it to the bowl with the chickpeas. Sprinkle the salt and give the entire batch a good stir. The idea is to pick up all the seasoning and have it coat each chickpea.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and get ready to roast. I learned my lesson from the jerk chicken wings recipe and this time I lined my baking tray with aluminum foil to make clean-up a breeze after. The cookie sheet should be big enough so there’s one layer of seasoned chickpeas, to allow for even roasting. My tray was a bit small, so midway through roasting I had to give them a toss to make sure they all get roasted perfectly.
With the oven at 350 degrees, I placed them on the middle rack and allowed them to roast for 50 minutes (which should have been perfect), but since they were not single layered on the sheet they didn’t have the ‘crunch’ I desired. So back in the oven for another 15 minutes and they were not only perfectly golden in colour, they had that wonderful crunch good fry channa is supposed to have.
These can be enjoyed warm out of the oven or days and weeks after. However it’s important that you store them in an airtight container (thus the bottles mentioned above) to keep it’s freshness. Though this is not the traditional way of making this, I find that by roasting with the seasoning… the wonderful taste of the garlic, shado beni and pepper, combined with the olive oil is just spectacular.
You can always dust with salt when they come out of the oven for that unique salted texture that fry channa usually have (but then depends on how much salt you like, as they should already be seasoned perfectly).
In memory of Aunty Veeya!