Have you ever gotten excited about a new food only to try it and wind up disappointed or, even worse, hating it? I finally got around to trying black chickpeas last week, and I’m sorry to say that I was disappointed and my family was even less impressed. My husband, who likes almost everything, just tolerated them, and our daughter wound up picking them out of her food. So why am I posting this recipe? Well, this richly spiced rice salad was delicious in spite of the black chickpeas, which can easily be replaced with regular chickpeas or another legume.
So what are black chickpeas? As you might have guessed, they’re chickpeas and they’re black. Or, at least, they’re darker than the chickpeas most Americans use, sort of a reddish brown, and they’re smaller, too. I’ve bought them at both Whole Foods and at an Indian grocery store for about a quarter of the Whole Foods price (two pounds for $2.99), so I recommend buying them from an Indian grocery if you can. They’ll probably be labeled “Kala Chana” or “whole black gram.”
Besides being darker and smaller than regular chickpeas, black garbanzo beans are firmer and have a much thicker outer skin. I think it was this outer skin that put my family off. We’re used to the soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture of white chickpeas, and the firmness of these prevented them from blending well in the rice salad. I enjoyed their chewiness and slightly nutty flavor much better when I ate them alone as a snack, sprinkled with cajun seasoning. If you like to snack on roasted chickpeas, you might want to try boiling up a batch of black chickpeas for a change.
To prepare them, I put them in my slow cooker and added boiling water until it was about two inches above the peas. Then I cooked them on high for 6 to 8 hours, checking every now and then to see if they were tender. (This is how I cook regular chickpeas, too, though they usually cook more quickly.) I still have two pounds of black chickpeas left, so I’ll be giving them a second chance soon. See the bottom of this post for a list of delicious-looking kala chana recipes from other bloggers.
Curried Rice Salad with Black Chickpeas and Mango
- 1 large onion , chopped
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1 large tomato finely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper , or to taste
- 1/4 cup chickpea cooking broth (or vegetable broth)
- 2 cups cooked black chickpeas , regular chickpeas, or well-drained black beans
- 4 cups cooked brown basmati rice
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala , or to taste
- 1/4 cup minced parsley or cilantro
- 1 mango , peeled and diced
- Lime juice , to taste
- Salt , to taste
- 2 tablespoons slivered almonds or toasted pine nuts (optional)
Heat a large, non-stick pot or wok over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown. If necessary, add a splash of water or vegetable broth to prevent sticking, but not a lot. When it begins to brown, add the garlic and cumin seeds and stir for a minute. Reduce heat to medium, add the tomato and next 5 ingredients, and cook until the tomato softens and begins to break down.
Add a quarter cup of the chickpea cooking liquid (or vegetable broth), the chickpeas, and the brown rice. Stir well, and if the mixture seems dry, add a little more broth. Cover and cook on low for about 5 minutes.
Stir in the garam masala and remove from heat. Transfer to a large serving bowl and add parsley and mango. Season to taste with fresh lime juice and salt. Sprinkle with almonds or pine nuts.
Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold. Letting it chill overnight improves flavor.
Using almonds adds 12 calories and 1g of fat per serving.
Black Chickpea Recipes from Other Bloggers:
- Slow Cooker Recipe for Vegan Black Garbanzo Bean Curry, a no-oil recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Creamy Spicy Black Chickpea Curry with Potatoes from Love Food Eat
- Masaledar Kaala Chana- Spicy Black Chick Peas from Honest Cooking
- Punjabi Chole Masala (Channa / Chickpeas) Recipe from Edible Garden