Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ghoogni - Curried Chickpeas

Diced Garnishes
Mixed Together with Lime

Ghoogni or curried chickpeas are a popular street food found all over Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta). In Bengali households it is a snack that is served between lunch and dinner, right around 4 p.m., with a cup of steaming, hot tea sweetened with sugar and lightened with milk.

My most vivid memory of this tea-time snack brings to mind the young master of the house across the courtyard from our flat/apartment in Jodhpur Park. I say 'young' because in the joint-family that lived there, his father was the patriarch of the family. Either my eyesight at that time was at its peak or the courtyard was not very big, because tea-time snacks or jol khabar in that household were served on their spacious wrap-around balcony and I could observe what was served when the young master returned from work in the evening.  Ghoogni & luchi, or curried chickpeas & puffed bread, must have been one of their favourite meals with hot tea. He and his father would be served in style while he sat across from his father with his mother and wife hovering over them to make sure every one of their needs were met. Preparing this dish took quite a bit of effort because the dry beans had to be soaked overnight and pressure cooked before the curry could be prepared.

Fast forward 45 years across the ocean from Kolkata where packaged, pre-cooked chickpeas are available year-round in the supermarkets. This makes it simpler and faster to bring ghoogni to the table. Luchi is not a staple in our home because they are deep-fried. Instead, we have ghoogni with chapatis or tortillas for lunch.

If dried chickpeas are the only option, soak them overnight in plenty of water, drain them the next day and pressure cook in enough water for 20 minutes before adding them to the gravy. Curried chickpeas are vegetarian and vegan, packed with protein, among other valuable nutrients, and are both hearty and delicious!