The United Nations declared 2016 The International Year of Pulses (IYP) because pulses are good for people, for soil and for the world. You can get involved in IYP by taking a pledge to eat pulses at least once a week for 10 weeks.
I decided to do this and once I started to pay attention I realized that I’ve already been eating peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas more than weekly for some time. It’s actually a lot easier than you might think.
I hope you’ll give the pulse pledge a try and to encourage you, this post shares two of my favourite pulse recipes – Mixed Vegetable Bhajias (pakoras) made with chickpea flour and Bharazi – pigeon peas in coconut cream. Both recipes are from the cookbook I co-authored with my beloved mentor Noorbanu Nimji called A Spicy Touch – Family Favourites from Noorbanu Nimji’s Kitchen. I’m thrilled to tell you that our beautiful 320 page cookbook just won an IPPY Silver Medal the Independent Publishers Book Awards based out of the United States and representing the English-speaking world.
There are a dozens of recipes in the book that include pulses or flour made from pulses. I hope you’ll enjoy the two I share here.
Bhajia – Mixed vegetables pakoras
Time: 30 minutes Yield: 40 tasty little snacks.
These (always gluten-free) treats are easy to make when unexpected guests arrive. This recipe calls for potato, spinach and onion, but Japanese eggplant, bell peppers, or diced zucchini may be added or substituted. Tips: Sifting the chana flour will produce a smooth batter. Noorbanu usually cooks these outside when the weather is good so the deep-frying odours don’t linger inside her home.
2 cups chana flour, sifted into a bowl
¾ cup water
1 Tablespoon finely cut coriander leaves
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Garlic Paste
1 teaspoon Ginger Paste
1 teaspoon Green Chilli Paste or Sambal Oelek
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ajwan (omum) seeds – optional
1 onion, divided in 2 lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 quartered and thinly sliced potatoes
1½ cups finely chopped spinach
5 whole hot chillies – jalapeño or Serranos – cut a slit in their sides
¾ teaspoon baking powder
Oil for deep-frying
1.Whisk the chana flour and water to form a thick pancake-like batter.
2.Stir in the coriander leaves, turmeric, cumin, garlic, ginger and chilli pastes, black pepper, salt and ajwan (if desired) and set aside for a few minutes.
3.Stir in the onion slices, potatoes, spinach and whole hot chillies – adjusting the moisture with a few additional drops of water so the mixture has the consistency of a thick cake batter.
4.Stir in the baking powder just before you are ready to start frying.
5.Heat the oil in a wok or deep fryer set to 375°F. Tip: If you don’t have a thermometer, it is ready when a drop of water sizzles immediately when splashed in the oil.
6.Add 1 tablespoon of the hot deep fryer oil to the bhajias batter and mix thoroughly but gently just before frying the mixture by the dropped tablespoon.
7.Fry 8 to 10 bhajias at a time and cook until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel lined baking tray.
8.Enjoy hot with Tomato Chutney and Ambli Ni Chutney
Bharazi (pigeon peas in coconut cream) – photo credit – Pauli-Ann Carriere
Bharazi – Pigeon peas in coconut cream
Time: 30 – 40 minutes plus soaking time if using dry peas Yield: 4 servings
When my mentor Noorbanu Nimji lived in Africa, vegetable peddlers went door to door to sell their freshly shelled pigeon peas. Noorbanu would buy them and make Bharazi and Mandazi (a coconut flour donut) for the family’s breakfast. This is typically when this dish was traditionally eaten. Tip: If you remember to soak dried pigeon peas overnight, the recipe will come together quickly or you can keep canned pigeon peas on hand. Though the dish will cost a little more to make when using canned peas, it’s still very inexpensive.
1 cup dry pigeon peas OR 1 (19 oz – 540 mL) can pigeon peas (use black pigeon peas)
1 Tablespoon sunflower oil
1 Tablespoon finely cut onion
½ cup finely chopped tomato (1 small)
1 (13 oz – 394 mL) can coconut milk or cream
¼ teaspoon Indian chilli powder
1/8 teaspoon turmeric, optional
1 whole chilli, slit down the sides (jalapeño or Serrano)
¼ teaspoon Garlic Paste (optional)
½ teaspoon Green Chilli Paste (and/or Sambal Oelek) – or to taste
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon finely cut coriander leaves
1.Soak the dry pigeon peas in water overnight then rinse in several changes of water, drain, then add 2 cups of fresh water and the peas to a saucepan and boil on high until tender – about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2.Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion until light gold, then add the tomatoes and cook till soft and mushy.
3.Stir in the coconut milk or cream, chilli powder, turmeric (if using), whole chilli, garlic and chilli paste, and lemon juice together and cook on medium-high heat till it comes to a boil.
4.Stir in the cooked (or canned) pigeon peas, lower the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
5.Add the coriander leaves and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.
6.Enjoy with Mandazi (recipe available in our cookbook – A Spicy Touch – Family Favourites from Noorbanu Nimji’s Kitchen) for an amazing breakfast treat or as a vegetarian meal with coconut rice.