Friday, November 26, 2010

Recipe: Chhole Biryani - Chickpea / Kabuli Channa Biryani

If I make channa at home, then the husband craves puris or bhaturas to go with it. As these are the classic combination for channa. But, I avoid deep frying as much as possible at home, so if I want to eat Channa then I need to think up different ways to cook it. So I end up with hummus, channa chaat or something on those lines. My favourite though, is the channa biryani. Its a one dish meal and if the channa has been well soaked and cooked with methi/jeera/hing it is much easier to digest than a heavy meat biryani, yet it is equally tasty and has interesting textures.
 The dish does take some planning to soak the channa in advance and it does take a little less than 2 hours for everything to be cooked, so its not a quick recipe. But the flavours are quite worth it.

1 cup rice - wash and soak for 10-30 minutes
1/2 cup kabuli channa / chhole / chickpeas
2 medium onions - finely chopped
6 - 8 green chillies (adjust for heat)
1/2" ginger chopped fine
2 cloves garlic chopped fine
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
2 tomatoes chopped
pinch of soda bicarb (optional)
2-3 peppercorns
1" + 1" cinnamon
1 all spice (biryani flower)
3 cloves
1 cardamom
1 tsp jeera - cumin seeds
6-8 stalks corriander leaves
1/2 lime - juice extracted
2 cups water
1-2 tsp oil
salt to taste


Wash & soak the channa for at least 8 hours (I add a pinch of jeera, heeng - asafoetida and methi - fenugreek seeds at this stage to cut the gassy nature of channa).
In a Pressure cooker mix the channa, a few slices of onion, 1 green chilli, ginger, garlic, 1 piece of cinnamon and the peppercorns.
Add 2 cups of water and cook for 2 whistles, adding soda bicarb if you like. I find that good quality channa doesn't need the addition of soda bicarb.
Let the pressure dissipate on its own.
Strain the channa, reserving the stock for later.
You can remove the whole spices if you like, I prefer to leave them in as I feel it just keeps adding flavour to the dish.

Grind the remaining green chillies and corriander together ( I have sometimes just chopped them fine and it tastes as good, but the grinding gives a nice green colour to the biryani)
Heat the oil, add the remaining whole spices - cinnamon, all spice, cloves, cardamom.
Once they start to release their aroma, add the onions, tomatoes and jeera and fry.
When lightly browned, add the cooked channa and fry for 3-5 minutes (If your channa has got overcooked, don't worry, add it all as it will impart flavour to the dish, but be careful to not overfry at this stage as it will smash up the channa further)
Add the corriander chilli paste, the ginger garlic paste, salt to taste, lime juice and stir for 1-2 minutes.
Add 2 cups of the reserved stock (add water if you don't have enough stock) and bring to a boil.
When it boils, add the soaked and drained rice and give it a good stir, so all the flavours mix into the rice.
Pressure cook on the lowest flame for 1-2 whistles or you can cook it the regular way you cook a biryani on dum.

Serve hot with Raita

Kim's Tip: When cooking biryani in a pressure cooker, ALWAYS let the pressure reduce on its own, don't force it otherwise you may end up with a soggy biryani. Allowing the cooker to cool and let off its own steam is better for the water balance of your biryani.


Aziza said...

This sounds great! I'm all for doing vegetarian meals instead of meat (as often as husbands can tolerate). I have a question. You said to add two cups of water and cook for "two whistles" -- what does that mean, time-wise? I have a new'ish pressure cooker so it doesn't actually have a whistle in the traditional pressure cooker sense. In other words, I don't have to pull the whistle up to release the pressure, all I do is put the switch on pressure release and voila.

Thanks, Kim!

Kim said...

Ahh, time wise its difficult for me to estimate. I have 2 diffeent types of cookers. They both have different cooking times, but whistles is an accurate measurement.

Since you are quite familiar around the kitchen. Maybe this explanation will help.

The first time You need to cook the chickpeas for a slightly less time than you normally would if you were only cooking chickpeas. The chickpeas continue to cook when you stir fry them and then when you pressure cook it with the rice, so if they are completely cooked right in the beginning, they will be overcooked by the end.

Does this help?

Rekha shoban said...

yummy briyani!!!looks perfect dear!!

Kim said...

Thanks Rekha :)

Aziza said...

I'll give it a try soon and let you know. I really love these kinds of quick/easy recipes. Please keep them coming!

Aziza said...

Okay one last question. Can I cook the beans in the pressure cooker w/o pre-soaking?

Torviewtoronto said...

delicious aromatic biryani

Kim said...

If you are using the tinned version of the beans, then these are pre cooked. So you can start directly at the heating the oil with whole spices step.

If you are using the dehydrated beans, then they need to be soaked at least for a couple of hours (minimum 4 hours and longer time in the pressure cooker). Black eyed peas can be cooked without soaking, but not these particular beans.


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