Saturday, May 10, 2008

Reliving Rajasthan

A train journey of over two days, sights to remember for a lifetime: Brown earth, bright yellow fields of mustard; a tableau of camels placidly bobbing alongside turbaned masters; peacocks, tails sweeping and brilliant; women in the brightest clothes; spicy samosas and tea in earthen cups at stops along the way; a nip in the air; and then ker sangri for dinner at aunt’s place; bales of block-printed fabric; daal-baati churma in a busy part of town; peacocks freely wandering in and out of houses, even in the midst of a bustling neighbourhood; tourists gasping with amazement and delight as a guide lights a candle in a room full of tiny mirrors; the horror and tears shed over Roop Kanwar ...

When Padmaja announced RCI-Rajasthan, it was time for me to dig out Tarla Dalal’s Rajasthani cookbook from the innards of my bookshelves and look for an unusual recipe to highlight. The gravy base is a traditional Rajasthani one of curds and chickpea flour (Bengal gram flour/besan), but what struck me was the addition of red chana, which the author describes as whole red gram.

Now I’m not sure if this is the same as kala chana or black chana, having never seen anything labeled red chana before (but red gram is Bengal gram, I know), I used the black chana, which is actually a reddish brown, for this dish.

This dish is also called Chane Jaisalmer Ke (a city I did not visit, incidentally) and traditionally served with missi roti but goes well with rice or bajra rotis, the author recommends. A cupful or two sans either rice or roti makes for a filling meal, as I discovered.

Black chana/chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
Cumin seed – ½ tsp
Mustard seed – ¼ tsp
Bay leaves – 2
Red chillies, whole – 4
Asafoetida – 1/8 tsp
Dry ginger powder/sonth – ¾ tsp
Green chilli – 2, slit
(The author recommends 1 tsp of ginger-green chilli paste but I didn’t have fresh ginger on hand.)
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric – ¼ tsp
Curds/yoghurt, beaten – 1 cup
Bengal gram flour/besan – 2 tsp
Chopped coriander – 4 tbsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

In a pressure cooker, heat the oil, temper with the cumin and mustard, bay leaves, red chillies and asafetida.

When the seeds pop, add the black chana, ginger powder, green chillies, red chilli powder, turmeric, salt and 2 cups of water. Pressure cook for about 2-3 whistles till the channa is cooked. Wait for the pressure to escape.

(The chana will take considerably longer if you’re not using a pressure cooker – you can follow the same sequence even with a pan or a wok.)

Whisk the curds and the flour together. Add it to the cooked chana and bring to a boil stirring continuously. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve hot, garnished with coriander.

My observation – the gravy was rather watery, despite the flour, and despite my boiling it down for a while. I’m not sure what the consistency is meant to be. Tasty, anyhow!


  1. Dear Sra,
    It was really nice to know that you spent some days in Rajasthan...I belong to Jaipur, and after reading your post want to eat choorma-laddu and kair sangri.. Love it how my mum makes it!!
    The channa looks nice but Mom makes the gravy a bit thicker..( adding some more besan you can have it thicker.. )
    Its so nice to see that with this RCI so many blogger friends are trying out missi roti and gatte etc...

  2. gravy looks lovely sra...its looks thick though..mine was rather too thin..but it was good with missi roti..i guess thats what matters!..:0

  3. Hi Sra... Ur chickpeas curry looks YUM!.... Love to have them with chapatis....

  4. I like this name Chane Jaisalmer Ke .I am interested to taste this.Thanks for sharing detail .Now I am able to make this.

  5. Had never had authentic Rajasthani cuisine as such, though I have a friend who is from Jaipur. Actually had food at her place only once :) but it was more of a North Indian Meal.

    She is into super healthy eating else could have asked her for dal-bati choorma ;-)

    I like the look of this channa and more so the name

  6. looks lovely, Sra! wonderful entry.

  7. A similar black chena gravy is made with puttu.but minus the curd and the besan.

  8. Looks and sounds delicious!


  9. Wow, you've been to Rajasthan..The northest I've been to is Goa I think :( Pathetic, isn't it? well, one day...
    I always thought red chana is black chana, since it does look more red than black... Never had a chana dish with curd in it, sounds interesting....

  10. Yumm yumm! That is a wonderful grind-less gravy :)

  11. I've had Rajasthani cuisine at restaurants here and they are wonderful. The gravy looks okay, maybe you could add a bit more flour to thicken it.

  12. Good Monday morning!!:))

    I had bookmarked that dish too and then chaged to a simple Panchmek dal. Looks mouthwatering sra, good job. Yeah, we get reddish chana and a blacking chana here, she probably taking about that red gram. Either way, they are the same Kala chana in taste, differs slightly in color!:)

  13. looking good, sra! digging out the old recipe books is right!!

  14. love those yogurt based gravies! sure, those women have the brightest & most colorful beautiful clothes :) so, i hear u r very soft spoken ;)

  15. Hi SRA .. I love kala channa and this recipe sounds good.the gravy looks very nice.

  16. Black channa is something I hardly use except in a few dishes, this looks delicious.

  17. The name of that curry sounds so the kind of thing you'd imagine being served to a king/queen...

  18. Great entry.Your dish looks lovely!

  19. I missed visiting blogs for a few days. Wow you guys had fun at the party huh.

  20. What a trip, Sra, and so beautifully rendered. The sights, sounds, flavors and feelings are all there.

  21. Dear Sra,

    I have tagged you , Please visit my blog for the Meme.

    Enjoy reading


  22. Wow nice direction.Its seem too easy and I am able to make it now.

  23. that is one good licking curry sra..i guess the besan thickens the gravy nicely.
    u reminded me of the ol sati horror stories!!

  24. that looks beautiful. will be trying it soon.

  25. Wow! That gravy looks delicious!! Awesome entry for RCI.

  26. Please visit my blog for a pleasant surprise! :)

  27. Hi Sra, how are you? That gravy looks delicious and I love the colour.

  28. I am late to visit you Sra ,
    but I am so thrilled to read this post ..lovely , u caught the very essence of Rajasthan ..

    and the dish looks very delicious

    hugs and smiles

  29. sra..that looks delicious...and yep 2 bowls would fill me up..but greedy me would want more ;)

  30. Just made baatis the other day, but didnt take any pics :( your entry looks delicious!

  31. Folks, thank you all for visiting and commenting - some other obsession made me ignore my blog these past 10 days and I haven't replied to any of the comments. Now there's a new post and new comments to reply to - see you all there! :)


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