Chicken Channay (Chicken with Chickpea): A Healthier Version
There are so many memes, taglines and jokes created about the beginning of the week, Monday for most of us, highlighting how difficult it is to push yourself to get out of the house and go to work for five (or six!) more days. Starting regular work pattern after holidays, that too EID holidays, is a whole new story. Before we start feeling sorry for ourselves I would like to take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate all of those unsung heroes who don’t get the luxury of being off duty and being with their families during such festive holidays, be it security people, health professionals or any other services. Thankyou everyone!
After days of eating all different varieties of food it is time to go simple and basic. From being a weekend breakfast item to a must-have brunch dish to a solid entrée, Chicken Channay/Chicken with Chickpea is a very common dish from our fabulous Pakistani cuisine not just in terms of taste but nutritionally as well. There are so many ways to cook this dish and choose this healthier version. The restaurant version of this will be way more spicier and there will be an inch or two deep layer of fat over the cooked product. Reason is simple, it keeps it protected from going bad and masks the flavor of ingredients which may be of sub par. As I say it all the time it is up to you, the person who cooks for the family, to control what goes in to the pot and what doesn’t. You are incharge and you are the boss and if you choose to cook healthy with quality ingredients you will be doing a great favor to your family and society because we need people with healthy habits.
The two main elements in the dish are chicken and channay/chickpea. By the way you can totally skip the chicken element and just make channay/chickpea for vegan option. If using chicken I prefer boneless chicken breast chunks because (a) it is a lean meat which makes it healthier (b) it won’t break like chicken with bones and be everywhere in the pot. But again it is a matter of preference, chicken with bones can be used as well. Second part, channay/chickpea I would strongly recommend not to use canned ones, instead soak them overnight with a little baking soda ( not baking powder), wash and rinse well and then boil. Why? (a) canned chickpea won’t give a required mushy texture (b) it is more economical and cost efficient this way. So the dish is like you boil channay/chickpea first and then make regular onion, tomato and spices masala and cook chicken in the masala and then you add boiled channay/chickpea to chicken and let them both hangout and get to know each other better for a good 15-20 minutes and done!
Chicken Channay/ Chicken with Chickpea: A Healthier Version
A very traditional and very common dish gets a healthier makeover with enhanced nutritional value and without compromising the flavor. Make it for brunch or weekend special breakfast or serve as main meal.
- 1/3 cup cooking oil
- 1 big onion, finely chopped
- 300 gm boneless chicken, small chunks
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 4 tbsp tomato puree or use 4-5 finely chopped tomatoes
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1½ tsp red chilli powder
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp tumeric powder
- 1 tsp white cumin seeds
- 1/3 tsp onion seeds (kalonji in Urdu)
- 400 gm channay/chickpea Soak overnight or at least 6 hours with 1/2 tsp baking soda. Wash and rinse well. Boil in 2 liters of water till tender. Strain and discard water.
- 2 medium green chillies, roughly chopped
- 6-7 curry leaves (curry pata in Urdu)
- 1 tsp garam masala
- sliced ginger for garnish
- fresh green coriander or mint for garnish
In a large cooking pot fry chopped onion over medium flame till golden brown.
Add in chicken chunks and cook well, stirring in intervals, till water from chicken dries out and oil is separated.
Add in ginger paste and garlic paste and dry roast for about 35-40 seconds.
Add tomato puree (or tomatoes), stir well. If using puree you might be required to add a little water if it gets too dry.
Add in salt, red chilli powder, coriander powder, tumeric powder, cumin seeds and onion seeds (kalonji in Urdu).
Add channay/chickpea to the pot with 3/4 cup of water. Cover and let it cook over medium low flame for about 15 minutes or till chicken is cooked through, channay/chickpea appears mushy and water is mostly evaporated.
Add green chillies, curry leaves and garam masala to the pot. Cover and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Do not open the lid during this time.
Switch the flame off but do not remove the lid for another 5 minutes.
Serve hot, garnished with ginger slices and chopped green coriander or mint with naan or roti or pori or paratha.