Recipe: Chana Chaat (chickpea salad)

I’m so disorganized. R’s school had an international potluck lunch today. I had been whatsapp-ing (texting on an app called whatsapp) with my cousin all morning, but hadn’t bothered to glance at my calendar to confirm the date. I had planned what I was going to bring to the potluck–pakora (fritters). They came frozen from the Indian grocery store and I was going to quickly fry them up, lay them out in a nice dish and serve with ketchup. Easy peasy, but quite domestic diva-ish. I’d already licked my milk mustache in my mind. All I had to do was take a shower and then leisurely prep it for 11:30. This was my plan:

9:45 – shower
10 – dressed and in the kitchen
10:30 – ready and done
Until time to go – follow post-election analyses

Things got a little delayed (because the last thing to-do happened first), but I was still in the kitchen at 10:45, so no cause for panic. Now this cousin that I was texting with obviously did not know my timeline. I happened to text her about the potluck while the oil for heating up for the frying. It was when I told her that I was bringing pakoras that it all fell apart. She said they would be no good cold, I said there’s not many Indian snacks that take cooling well, she said I should think of something else, I said I had no time. She backed off, but the damage was done. The seed was sown. It was 11 and I knew I wasn’t bringing pakoras. What now?!

My cousin suggested an alternative in chana chaat. It was quick and easy to prepare, yummy and nutritious for kids and as non-allergenic a snack for school as any. Luckily, I had all the ingredients on hand. Normally I would use overnight soaked and boiled beans for this, but I always have chickpea cans in the pantry for quick turnaround. Today gave new meaning to the “quick” in the “turnaround”. A lick and a tic later, I was done! Although I don’t advise you to leave your preps until this last a minute, I was still out the door at 11:20. Give this a try; I bet it won’t disappoint.

You’ll need:

2 15oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small red onion, minced
1 small green pepper, deseeded and diced
1 small tomato, diced
2 tbsp diced cucumber (about 4″ round, deseeded)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1tbsp vegetable oil
salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste
1 tbsp minced cilantro, for garnish

Boil chickpeas in a pot of water for 6-7 minutes and drain. Meanwhile chop vegetables and dump into a big bowl. In a frying pan, heat oil to almost smoking. Add cumin seeds. As soon as they splutter add chickpeas. Saute for a minute. Toss beans with veggies, salt, pepper, lemon juice and cilantro. Refrigerate until serving.

Note: This salad can be served hot or cold. Preparing it a day ahead lets the flavors meld and makes it even more delicioso!

Chickpea salad

I would love to say this chaat went over so well at the party that all the parents present fell to my feet for the recipe. I wouldn’t be exaggerating when I said that kids threw tantrums that I wasn’t their mom who made them such wholesome snacks all the time. I would say I impressed the teachers immeasurably with my creativity, craftiness and care for my child’s well-being.

I would, but I can’t. Because, the party never happened. It never was supposed to happen today. I got to school armed and ready, looked around for any parental activity, and on finding none, finally checked my calendar. Tomorrow. I was to do it all tomorrow. All the franticity (is that even a word?) wasted. Bah.

Well, I got a chickpea salad out of it, so that counts for something. And, a lesson learnt.

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4 thoughts on “Recipe: Chana Chaat (chickpea salad)

  1. Guess what? One of Nicolas’ favorite things is a chickpea salad I make… canned chickpeas, red bell peppers, capers, red onion, mint and vinaigrette dressing (I think that’s it.) I’ll have to try this one! Good thing you say it tastes better when left overnight — now you’re set for tomorrow and can text all the way to the time of the party! Funny, when these things happen to me I’ve usually missed the event.

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