Black Chickpea (Kala Chana) Pulao with Candied Carrot Strips
Pulao is one of those recipes I think everyone should know how to make. It is a one pot dish that involves cooking rice in a seasoned broth with staple ingredients you have laying around in the kitchen, whether that be vegetables, legumes, lentils, or even meat. For this pulao, I opted Indian black chickpeas. This is a very simple, cheap and nutritious pulao to make. Do you know why? the black chickpea of course! It is also called black gram or bengal gram in India. Being low in fat, high in dietary fiber, black chickpea is an excellent source of protein. It can be a good choice to add them to your diet, especially if you are a vegan or a vegetarian. Its their warm, earthy flavor that I often prefer over white chickpeas. You can easily find this black gram in all Asian/Indian grocery stores and also in Canadian supermarkets.
This pulao is beautifully flavored and deliciously fragrant. The stock is the key ingredient which gives the rice it’s black color and flavor. It can be prepared a night before which can significantly reduce cooking time on a very busy day. This is my mother’s recipe. She used to prepare this pulao quite often and I always loved to take the leftover for my school lunches. My only change to her original recipe is the addition of candied carrot strips (inspired from Persian pulao). It adds a delicious dimension of flavor. In India it’s not uncommon to eat savory dishes with sweet element. I grew up with it and I can enjoy the two in a number of dishes, like mango chicken, halwa (type of dessert) and cholay (chickpeas) with poori (fried bread), handvo (savory lentil cake) with mango chutney.
I cooked this pulao using brown basmati with the same ratio of water as I do for white basmati but cooked for longer time on low heat. The texture of the grains is firm and separate, not mushy or sticky. This pulao is a comforting dish anytime of the year and has such gorgeously rich and developed flavors. You don’t need a curry, chutney or a pickle on the side. It goes great simply with raita or plain yogurt.
Let me know what you think if you end up making this.
A robust pulao that is full of nutrition derived from black/brown chickpeas.The stock is the key ingredient and, which gives the rice it’s black color and flavor.
- 200 gm (1 cup) kala Chana (soaked overnight and water discarded)
- 2 bay leaf
- 2-1" cinnamon stick
- 285 g (1 1/2 cup) brown basmati rice, rinsed and soaked for a minimum of 15 minutes
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small onion, sliced (about 1/3 cup)
- 2 tsp ginger, finely chopped
- 3 black cardamom, lightly pounded
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 green chilies, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice (or to taste)
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 2 carrots, thinly cut into strips
- 2 tsp. coconut oil
- 1 tbsp. turbinado sugar
- Place the black/brown chickpeas along with bay leaf and cinnamon, in a pressure cooker with 4 1/2 cups of water (that way you will have 3 cups stock to cook rice).
- Lock pressure cooker lid, and bring to high pressure over medium high heat. As soon as pot reaches high pressure, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain high pressure.
- Remove the cooker from heat and let the pressure release naturally (takes about 10 minutes).
- Drain and reserve chickpeas and water separately.
- Alternately, place the beans with bay leaf and cinnamon in a regular pot.
- Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until chickpeas are al dente. (Replace water as needed so that the chickpeas are always covered with liquid as they cook.)
- Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a wide sauté pan or wok (pan should be at least 2 1/2" deep) on med-high heat.
- Add cumin and black cardamom. Let them sizzle a bit.
- Now add sliced onion. Sauté until light pink.
- Add tomato and finely chopped ginger. Cook, stirring often for 5 minutes, until tomatoes cook down (add a tbsp. or two of water to prevent sticking if necessary).
- Add brown rice and stir. Saute for 2-3 minutes. This helps build flavor, but is definitely optional.
- Pour 3 cups chickpea stock (If it is less add water to make up), salt, crushed black pepper and green chilies into the saucepan and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil.
- As soon as the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan with tight fitting lid.
- Cook for 40 minutes, and about halfway through the cooking time, stir in one cup chickpeas (you can safely store the remaining chickpeas in fridge for 4 days).
- While the pulao is cooking heat 2 tsp oil in a small pan.
- Add the carrot strips and sauté for 1 minute. Sprinkle turbinado sugar and 1 tbsp. water over the carrots .
- Reduce heat to low, cover pan cook for 1 minute until there is no liquid. Remove from heat.
- Once the rice has finished cooking, leave it to rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Remove the lid and fluff up the rice with a fork. Stir in cilantro and lemon juice.
- Transfer to a serving dish, top with carrot strips. Enjoy!
Soaking and boiling time of black/brown chickpeas is not included.
Leftover chickpeas can be added to all sorts of recipes, like curry, salad, soup or roasted and spiced and eaten as a snack.