Chana Chaat (Tangy and Tart Chickpea Salad)

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
tangy and tart chickpea salad

Anyone who has been following my cooking space will know how much I adore Raghavan Iyer's cookbooks. Sadly, I have not had an opportunity to enjoy his creations first hand, but thanks to his hard work and books, I can at least try to recreate his ideas in my own kitchen and he has never failed me. 660 Curries is one of those desert island books that I could not part with. If I do end up on a desert island, I can only hope the makings of a good Indian meal are present … otherwise, I can dream.

This recipe is adapted from his latest release, Indian Cooking Unfolded, and a gem it is. Especially suited to those who are new to Indian cooking, or just starting to learn the fundamentals of cooking, this is a must-have for your shelves. Now, I am a vegetarian, and this book is not strictly so, but there are plenty of vegetarian friendly recipes to try and many others that can be adapted. The book is about using staples from your fridge and pantry, including leftovers. That's welcome for a cook such as myself as at any given time I have vegetables that I don't want to go to waste, various spice blends and sauces calling out for attention, and more often than not I don't want to be bothered running out to the store when I really need a fairly quick and satisfying meal solution.

Another unique aspect of the book is the unfolded sections that start off each chapter, and each recipe uses only 10 ingredients or less. In addition, lots of helpful hints are included throughout. Essentially, you get not only wonderful recipes but it's a master cooking class too. After teaching himself to cook after leaving his native land, he started teaching others. If you are experienced with Indian cooking, you'll find some tempting inspiration, and if Indian cooking is new to you, then this is one fine introduction.

This simple and easy-to-make dish of tart and spicy chickpeas makes for an impressive entrée, especially served with a rich and creamy tamarind dressing over mixed salad greens. Mr. Iyer has always impressed me with his modern approach to Indian cooking, while maintaining traditional cooking methods and pairings with flair.

My one complaint about the new release? It's too short for my liking. 100 recipes just can't curb my hunger for more. Oh, make that two complaints — Mr. Iyer is not nearby to cook alongside me in the kitchen. He has such a gentle and enthusiastic approach to cooking nourishing and spicy meals that is refreshing and never fails to inspire.

Chana Chaat (Tangy and Tart Chickpea Salad)Chana Chaat (Tangy and Tart Chickpea Salad)
Recipe by
Adapted from Indian Cooking Unfolded: A Master Class in Indian Cooking, with 100 Easy Recipes Using 10 Ingredients or Less
Cuisine: Indian
Published on October 1, 2013

Tart, tangy and spicy chickpeas served with mixed greens and a rich and creamy tamarind dressing

Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes if using precooked chickpeas

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  • 1 cup dried chickpeas (3 cups cooked or 2 14 oz cans)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 3/4 teaspoon chat masala (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
  • 6 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1/2 tablespoon tamarind paste, seeds removed
  • 1 cup spring water
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar, jaggery or brown sugar
  • 2 to 3 fresh red or green chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Rinse the chickpeas and soak for 8 hours or overnight in several inches of water. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a medium saucepan and cover with several inches of fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the chickpeas are soft — about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Drain and set aside.

  • To make the tamarind dressing, whisk together the tamarind paste and water in a small saucepan. Stir in the sugar, chilies, ginger and salt. Bring to a low boil over medium heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the dressing begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Transfer to a blender or small food processor and pulse until you have a fairly thick dressing. Stir as needed to combine the ingredients. Chill in the refrigerator until needed.

  • To finish the dish, heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds, stirring every few seconds, until they darken a few shades. Remove from the heat and transfer to a spice grinder and grind the seeds into a fine powder.

  • Transfer the cooked chickpeas to a medium bowl and toss with the cumin seeds, cayenne, chat masala if using, salt and parsley or cilantro until well combined.

  • To serve, toss the salad greens with dressing, transfer bunches onto serving plates, and spoon some chickpeas on top.

Makes 4 to 5 servings
chickpea chaat

More spicy chickpea dishes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Chana Masala
Chickpea Vindaloo
Chickpeas with Paneer Cheese
Chickpeas, Kidney Beans and Lentils with a Spicy Tomato Sauce


Laavanya said...

Love the dressing and the pairing with salad greens... Gorgeous chaat.

Deena kakaya said...

YUM. I love tamarind and chaat is my weakness. Good job yours is healthy :) x