Usali (Black Chickpeas Recipe)

Usali is a very unique salad dish from my mom's state of Karnataka. She taught me how to make it when I was home last. I kind of refer to them as faker chickpeas because they look like them, but have quite a different taste and are a bit harder in texture. Usali is really tasty and hearty and so healthy from all of the protein.

You can find these chickpeas in the Indian store and they are usually labeled as either kala chana or kala gram. Kala means black so essentially translates as black chickpeas. My father and I got into a quarrel about if these guys are beans or lentils - fun quarrel right?! Well I think they're beans:)

*this recipe is easiest with a pressure cooker but you can also boil the chickpeas in water but it will just take longer.
2 cups dry black chickpeas (kala chana or gram)
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons oil
2 pinches hing (asafeotida)
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
2 green chilis chopped or 1 dried red chili broken into few pieces
4 fresh curry leaves, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/3 cup fresh shredded coconut
cilantro for garnish

Wash the chickpeas thoroughly until water is clear. Soak chickpeas in water overnight in pressure cooker pot.

Heat chickpeas with water and salt under high heat (water should be about 2 inches above top of chickpeas). Bring to a boil and skin off the froth that rises to the top. Lower the heat to medium-high. Place pressure cooker lid onto pot.

When steam comes out of the top, put the stopper on. If the stopper's rocking or hissing is out of control, then lower the heat a bit, but make sure that the stopper continues to rock and hiss. From the time the stopper starts rocking steadily, simmer for about 20 minutes and then turn off the heat. Wait until safety valve comes down to open the lid.

Drain the chickpeas (save the water for use in a soup because it has a lot of nutrients).

Place the chickpeas in a bowl.

In a very small pan, heat oil under medium heat. Put in hing and mustard seeds and cover. When the mustard seeds start to sputter, turn the heat down a little and put in chili and curry leaves and mix. Cook for about 30 seconds. Turn off heat and pour over chickpeas. Add lemon juice, coconut and cilantro and mix. You can add salt to your taste.


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