Channa Bateta (Chickpeas with Potato)

This recipe comes from Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s book, The Settler’s Cookbook– a memoir of love, migration and food.

Born in Uganda, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is of East-Indian descent. Her book shares the stories of East-Indians in Uganda, along with the foods and recipes that accompanied these experiences. From celebrating birthdays and marriages, to the lunches of railway workers, it is a vivid compilation of East-Indians’ lives in Uganda.

To provide context for these personal experiences, Alibhai-Brown discusses the collective histories of East-Indian Ugandans. Answering questions like, “How did Indians end up in Uganda?” she talks about being an ethnic minority in a British colony during the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as the impacts of East-Indians on the physical, social, and economic fabric of their country.

Being an immigrant to a colonized land myself, I felt a certain connection to the author. As I read the book, it became clear to me that that we shared the belief that food is more than just food– it’s culture, it’s comfort, it’s connection to the past, present, and future. It’s amazing how much a bowl of chickpeas and potatoes can say if we listen.

Chickpeas with potatoesSome recipes in this book are a fusion of Indian and Ugandan cuisines. However, I think this dish stayed true to its Indian roots. The tamarind and date paste provides a sweet and sour backdrop and the chili gives just enough heat to warm you up on a cold day. The garnish on top is Bombay mix, a salty, sour, and spicy mixture of fried peas, peanuts, lentils, and chickpea flour noodles typically eaten as a snack, or as part of a meal. I got mine from the Real Canadian Superstore in Vancouver. 

Masi’s Channa Babeta

From: The Settler’s Cookbook– a memoir of love, migration and food by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 3 tins chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp dried tamarind
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 large dried red chili
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 lb potatoes
  • 6 dried dates
  • Red chili powder to taste
  • 2 tsp channa flour (besan– chickpea flour)
  • ½ tsp sugar

Method

  1. Pour boiling water over dates and tamarind, and soak overnight.
  2. Heat oil in a pan with whole chili and mustard seeds until they crackle.
  3. Add turmeric and chili powder and cook for a minute, stirring all the time.
  4. Add 1 pint of water and salt to taste. Bring to a boil.
  5. Now add diced potatoes and cook until nearly soft.
  6. Chuck in chickpeas and simmer.
  7. Meanwhile crush tamarind and dates with your fingers, then strain into the pot with the sugar.
  8. Stir the besan into a little water to make a paste, then stir into the simmering pot to thicken the mixture a little.
  9. Cook for another five minutes.
  10. Serve in bowls topped with Bombay Mix if you like

Chickpeas with potato

Coconut Chickpea Curry

Some things in life are beyond description, like the shades of sky at sunset, smell of air after rain, or my first taste of coconut cream. Thicker than coconut milk, coconut cream is sensual, luxurious, and deeply satisfying.

Make this curry as spicy as you can take it, or keep it mild to let the other flavours shine through. Let your taste buds guide your exploration of this dish and many more.

Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. Most are spices and require only measuring. You can also substitute garam masala for the spices. If you do not have dried mango powder, I suggest trying lemon/ lime juice.
Chickpeas in Coconut Curry

Coconut Chickpea Curry

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight then boiled
  • 4 tbsp oil, divided
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 russet potato, diced (about 1.5 cm cubes)
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 1.5 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1.5 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp grated/ minced fresh ginger
  • 2 whole dried red chilies
  • 1/2 tsp ground chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground fennel seed
  • 1 tsp dried mango powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 200 mL canned coconut cream
  • 2 small or 1 large tomato, diced

Method

  1. In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp oil and saute onion over medium heat until golden brown, add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  2. Add diced potatoes, 1 cup water, and some salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer until potatoes are soft. Add more water to prevent burning if necessary.
  3. Add chickpeas to potatoes and continue to cook.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan with a lid, heat remaining oil (3 tbsp) over medium-high heat. Add whole cardamom, mustard, coriander, and cumin seeds. Put a lid on the pan and let the spices splutter and pop. When the spluttering slows down, add ginger and whole chilies, stir for 15 seconds. Next, add the ground spices and cook for 15 seconds.
  5. To the spices, add coconut cream and the remaining 1 cup water.
  6. Pour the coconut and spice mixture into the pot with the chickpeas, add tomato(es). Simmer for 5-10 minutes to allow flavours to blend. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove whole cardamom pods and chilies before serving with rice or a bread of your choosing.

Beet, Potato, and Radish Salad

Beet, potato, and radish salad dressed with pomegranate molasses, sesame oil, cumin, and garnished with coriander leaves.
Dressed with pomegranate molasses, sesame oil, cumin, and garnished with coriander leaves.

This dish is deeply connected with the land: 1) most of the ingredients used are grown locally on the unceded, traditional, and ancestral land belonging to the Coast Salish peoples; 2) most of the ingredients are in season right now; 3) most of the ingredients are buried in the soil until they’re ready to be dug up, which makes this the most grounded dish I’ve made in a while.

When I bought the beets, potatoes, and radishes, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. But I couldn’t say “no” to the sweet and tender beets, the thin-skinned potatoes, and the bright red radishes with luscious tops. “I’ll figure out a delicious way to eat them somehow!” I vowed. I considered how to best show off the unique flavours and textures of each of these vegetables, and I think this was a pretty decent first attempt. The Middle-Eastern inspired dressing was the perfect complement to these humble and often overlooked vegetables. The richness of the sesame oil takes the edge off of the slight astringency of the pomegranate molasses, and we already know how well cumin and coriander go together (think: guacamole, Indian curries). In the future, I would try to boil the potatoes instead of roasting them to give them a bit of a contrast with the roasted beets.

Potato, Beet, and Radish Salad 

Serves: 3 as a side

Ingredients

  • 4 small new potatoes, scrubbed
  • 3 small- medium red beetroots, washed
  • 1 tbsp oil, and more for greasing baking pans
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided in 2
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, divided in 2
  • 1 bunch radishes, washed
  • 5 sprigs coriander, washed and minced
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin seeds

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °F, grease two (2) 9 in. x 9 in. baking pans.
  2. Cut up the potatoes and beetroots into 1/2 in. thick wedges, toss each with 1/2 tbsp oil, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper, lay in one layer in separate baking pans.
  3. Bake for 25 minutes, turn and bake for another 20 minutes, or until fork-tender.
  4. Meanwhile, wash the radishes and cut them into quarters.
  5. Make the dressing by mixing the pomegranate molasses, sesame oil, and ground cumin seeds.
  6. In a large bowl, toss the roasted potatoes and beetroots with raw radishes and the dressing mixture.
  7. Garnish with minced coriander and serve.
Beet, potato, and radish salad dressed with pomegranate molasses, sesame oil, cumin, and garnished with coriander leaves.
Beet, potato, and radish salad.