Channa and aloo or “chickpeas with potato” cooked in curry and stuffed into “hops” bread was a fav of mine growing up. I would visit my uncle who was a teacher at Marabella Junior Secondary school and just outside the gates were vendors selling all sorts of local street food. Including channa and aloo sandwiches (they also had a range of hotsauces to top this off with). Then how could one forget Divali time when we would get invited to our friends place down the road for dinner. This usually meant curry channa and aloo with roti. It was a festive time and the table would be packed with a huge assortment of dishes, but all I ever wanted was the buss-up-shut roti and channa with aloo.
In my recipe I used canned channa, but if you have access to the dry peas and you have the time, give those a try as well. It just means you’ll have to boil the dry version until tender before adding to the curry potato. But you’ll avoid having to use processed peas which sits in a ton of salt and whatever else is used in canning process.
1 can chickpeas (also known as channa, garbanzo bean, Indian pea, ceci bean, bengal gram, Kabuli chana, konda kadalai, kadale kaalu, sanaga pappu, shimbra, Kadala)
2 tablespoon curry powder (madras)
1/4 teaspoon salt (add more to your taste)
dash black pepper
1/2 medium onion sliced thin
1/4 hot pepper (I use habanero or scotch bonnet)
3 cloves garlic – crushed and minced
3 leaves of shado beni (or 2 tablespoon cilantro)
2 medium potatoes cubed
2 tablespoons water for the curry paste
4 tablespoons water to add to the cooked curry
2 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
You have 2 options when using the canned channa. You can rinse and cook or rinse, remove the skin and then cook. Since I hate the sort of gritty taste the skin gives the dish, I usually remove the skins from each channa grain. Yes, it does take about 15-20 minutes to remove them all, but the end result is much better in my opinion. Side note: If you were to purchase any dish that comes with curry channa (doubles to name one) the vendor would not have taken the time to remove the skins off the channa. So you know it tastes good even with the skin.. it’s just my personal choice.
After I’ve emptied the can of channa and rinsed it under running water, I start removing the outer skin. This is rather simple… take a channa between your fingers and apply a little pressure. The skin and channa will separate easily.
Now that we’ve removed all of the outer layer from the channa it’s time to slice and mince up the onion, pepper, garlic and shado beni to start cooking. Don’t forget to peel and dice the potato as well. In a fairly deep saucepan, heat the oil on medium to high heat and get ready to cook the curry a bit. Put the curry in a small bowl and pour in the 2 tablespoons of water, then stir to a thick paste. Pour this into the heated oil and allow to cook for a few minutes. As it dries down a bit, add the onion, garlic, pepper and shadow beni and stir around. To give this a bit of time to cook, add about 4 tablespoons of water. (you’ll cook the curry mixture for 4-8 minutes in total)
When the onion and garlic is soft and the liquid is all burnt off, add the potato and stir around to coat every piece with the curry mixture we just made. Immediately after add the channa and stir.
Pour in the 2 and 1/2 cups of water, add the salt and a dash of black pepper then bring to a boil and reduce to a gentle simmer (pot closed). Allow this to cook for about 20 minutes or until the potato is tender. By now the water would have dried up and a thick sauce should have started to form. I like this dish with a bit of a thick gravy or sauce so using the back of my cooking spoon I press down on the potato and some of the channa. Then stir around so any runny liquid will get nice and thick. If you notice that after the 20 minutes cooking time you have little or no liquid in the pot, feel free to add some more and bring it to a boil. Same trick applies.. push down using the back of your spoon to help thicken the sauce.
Sometimes you wonder why it’s taken you this long to make something you usually purchase, when it’s so simple to make. leave me your thoughts below.
p.s. hops bread is a a local bun the size of a hamburger bun in Canada and the US. It’s the main bun used for making sandwiches and you can get a fresh made batch at any of the local bakeries.