Kabuli Chana Biryani/Chickpea Biryani
THEME: #252 CHANA TIME
DISH: KABULI CHANA BIRYANI/CHICKPEA BIRYANI
Kabuli Chana Biryani or Chickpea Biryani is a vegetarian biryani that is deliciously spicy, aromatic, flavourful and perfect as a meal on a lazy Sunday. Serve it with a side of raita and a salad.
How did I decide to use Kabuli Chana?
Finally, the local ISKCON temple (Mombasa) opens up its restaurant for takeaway only, after having been closed for 2 months because of the Covid 19 pandemic. Last Saturday, my neighbor placed an order with the temple restaurant for Sunday Lunch and I jumped for joy as I’m fed up with daily cooking. It was a much-required rest from the kitchen for a while at least.
For hubby and me he ordered one thali but it was enough for two. After we finished our lunch, a bit of the vegetable biryani and a bit of Chole (Chickpea Curry) were left over. I mixed both and put them away in the fridge. The next day heated it and enjoyed it for lunch. It was so flavorful and tasty. Thus the idea of Kabuli Chana Biryani came to mind.
This Week’s Theme on FoodieMonday/Bloghop Group:
It is my turn to suggest the theme for this week. My suggestion is Chana, use them whole and not the flour. The other suggestion is milk. Obviously, chana won. I was two-minded as I had a dish with milk too in my head. I chose chana to get the Kabuli Chana Biryani out of my head and the milk idea remains. So yes Theme #252 is Chana Time.
What is Chana?
Chana or Chickpeas is a legume that is used in a wide variety of dishes all over the Indian Subcontinent. Right from the peas, to split peas to flour. It is one of the staples in any Indian pantry. It is believed that chana is one of the oldest legume or pulse known to mankind. Chickpeas are very popular in the North African, Mediterranean countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. With veganism and vegetarianism gaining popularity worldwide chickpea consumption too has risen.
Types of Chana/Chickpeas
There are two main distinct varieties of Chana or Chickpeas:
Desi Chana Or Bengal Gram:
One is what is called the Desi Chana or Bengal Gram. Usually smaller in size, they are either brown, reddish brown or black in colour. This variety is usually used to make gram flour, besan or chickpea flour. It has a much higher fibre content and low glycemic index making it a popular pulse for diabetics and for those on weight loss diets.
The other variety is the much bigger size and beige in colour Kabuli Chana, also known as garbanzo beans. This variety is not only popular in India but also in the North African countries, Mediterranean countries, Pakistan, Afghanistan. In India the name Kabuli Chana is pretty popular as long time ago it was believed that these bigger beige beans came from Afghanistan.
All varieties of Chickpeas or their flour form are used in almost all the daily cooking in India right from drinks to desserts. Chickpeas are rich, not online protein but also iron, folate, potassium, and manganese. No wonder it is one of the most widely used legumes. Here, I will only mention dishes where chickpea or chana have been used as a whole and not in the flour form:
- Kala Chana Pulao/Brown Chickpea Pulao – a flavorful and filling rice dish
- Vegetarian Chickpea Gyro – a vegetarian take on the famous Greek Street Food, Gyro.
- Lasagna with Chickpeas – a famous pasta dish from the Calabria Region of Italy.
- Closer to India I love the popular Himachal Pradesh dish Madra which is Kabuli Chana cooked in a yogurt curry.
- I’m not a big fan of cauliflower soup but if given to me with added ingredients like chickpeas, potato, and cheese then I don’t mind having it. As a result, Cauliflower and Chickpea Soup are quite popular on our menu.
- You’ve got to try the vegan Chickpea and Sweet Potato Curry which I prepare in creamy coconut milk. Enjoy it with some Indian Flatbread or rice.
- Mango and Curried Chickpea Salad is right out of the cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi whose cooking style I love.
- Chickpea Quinoa Burgers are what I’ve not had in a long time.
- Spicy Roasted Chickpeas make a very healthy snack to nibble on as they are baked and not fried.
- I love this Gujarati-style Chickpea Curry or Chana nu Shaak with rice. It is mostly made using brown chickpeas.
- Who doesn’t enjoy the popular Punjabi style Chole with some Bhatura?
- Looking for a filling and healthy salad bowl? Then look no further, try out the Baked Falafel Salad Bowl. Falafels are made from chickpeas.
- Moroccan Couscous Salad with chickpeas makes a delicious healthy light meal.
- Mombasa Mix is famous Street Food whereby brown chickpeas are cooked in coconut milk and served with dal bhajia, chevdo, and coconut chutney.
What is a Biryani?
Biryani is a rich, aromatic, rice dish whereby half cooked flavored rice and a curry as put together and allowed to cook further sealed in a pan or pot over a low flame. Modern times biryani is further cooked in an oven. I’ve watched a cookery show sometime back where a hole was dug out in the soil, burning coal placed in the hole and on top the pan filled with biryani. The lid was sealed tight with some dough. The pan was packed on top with the soil and allowed to cook.
Well, my Kabuli Chana Biryani definitely has not been cooked in such an elaborate fashion.
Ingredients required for Kabuli Chana Biryani/Chickpea Biryani:
- Rice – best to use basmati or any long grain rice that is suitable for biryani and pulao. These days there are so many varieties available.
- Chickpeas – Kabuli Chana or the white ones as they are popularly called. I’ve used cooked chickpeas.
- Onions – Peeled and sliced ones are cooked over low heat till they become golden brown.
- Garlic – for added taste is used in the minced or paste form.
- Ginger – fresh ginger used finely grated or minced into a paste.
- Green Chillis – minced into a paste form. Use according to your taste. I don’t use too many as we don’t like really hot food.
- Tomato Puree – I prefer to cook the tomatoes first and then puree them.
- Ghee or Oil – the choice is yours. For vegan version use oil. Personally I love the aroma and flavour of ghee in biryanis.
- Coconut Milk – for the gravy or curry
- Fresh Coriander – chopped along with the stems as they are the most flavorful part of the herb
- Fresh Mint – chopped. I usually chop it just before layering the biryani as chopped mint tends to turn black very quickly.
- Spices – Bay Leaves, Turmeric Powder, Red Chilli Powder, Coriander Powder, Saffron, Anise Star, Cloves, Cardamom, Cinnamon
- Biryani Masala Powder – ready made or homemade one
- Salt – to bring out all the flavours
- Nuts – almonds, cashew nuts
- Raisins or Sultanas
- For Vegan version omit using ghee. Use coconut oil or an oil of your choice
- Its Gluten Free.
- For Satvik version omit onions and garlic. Though the taste will be different but by no means not flavorful.
KABULI CHANA BIRYANI/CHICKPEA BIRYANI
For the Rice:
- 1 cup basamti or any long grain rice
- 3 cups water
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ghee or oil
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 star anise
- 4-6 cardamom pods
- 2 pieces cinnamon sticks about an inch long
- 6 cloves
- ¼ tsp saffron strands
- 2 tbsp hot rice water
For the Chickpea Curry:
- 1 cup white chickpeas (kabuli chana) cooked
- ½ cup sliced onion
- 1 tbsp ghee or oil
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp green chilli paste
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- ¼ cup fresh tomato puree
- ½ cup coconut milk
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- ¾ - 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp biryani masala powder
For In Between Layer:
- ½ cup fresh coriander chopped
- 20-25 mint leaves chopped
For the Top Layer:
- ½ cup onion sliced
- 1 tbsp ghee or oil
- 10-12 almonds cut into halves
- 10-12 cashew nuts cut into halves
- 2 tbsp raisins or sultanas
- Preparation of the Rice:
- Wash and soak rice in 3 cups of water for 30 minutes.
- Pour the water from the soaked rice into a big saucepan.
- Add the bay leaves, star anise, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ½ tsp salt and 1 tsp ghee to the water.
- Bring the water to a boil over medium heat.
- Add the soaked rice and allow it to simmer and cook till half done.
- Drain the rice out into a sieve or colander.
- Don't throw the water away. You will need some later on. The remaining can be used up as stock for soup.
- Add two tbsp of the hot rice water into a small bowl or cup. Add saffron to it and allow it to steep.
Preparation of the Kabuli Chana/Chickpea Curry:
- Heat ghee or oil in a pan over low to medium heat.
- Add onions and a pinch of salt. Stir fry the onions over low heat till they become golden brown.
- Add ginger, garlic and green chilli paste. Stir fry till the garlic turns slightly pink.
- Add salt, turmeric, red chilli and coriander powders. Mix it well.
- Add the tomato puree and mix.
- Cover the pan and allow the mixture to cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the chickpeas and coconut milk. Allow the mixture to simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the biryani masala powder and mix well.
- Take the pan off the heat.
Preparation of the Topping:
- Heat ghee or oil in a wide pan over medium to low heat.
- Add the chopped almonds and roast them till they begin to turn light brown.
- Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.
- Add cashew nuts and roast them till they turn pink.
- Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.
- Add raisins and stir fry till they swell up.
- Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon.
- At more ghee is required.
- Stir fry the sliced onions till they trun golden brown.
Layering the Biryani:
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Lightly grease a baking tray with some ghee or oil.
- Add half of the rice to the tray and spread it out to make a layer.
- Sprinkle ¼ cup rice water over it.
- Sprinke half of the saffron water over it.
- Add the chickpea curry layer, spreading it out over the rice evenly.
- Sprinkle the chopped coriander and mint over the curry.
- Add the remaining rice and spread it out evenly over the mint coriander layer.
- Sprinkle the remaining saffron water and ¼ cup rice water over it.
- Add the topping, i.e. the roasted nuts, raisins and browned onion.
- Cover the tray with an aluminium foil.
- Bake the biryani for 20 -30 mins or till the rice is done.
- Serve piping hot biryani with raita, salan or plain yogurt and some roasted papad.
- Make sure you sprinkle some water over the rice layers so that the rice cooks nicely in the oven.
- To save time, prepare the chickpea curry the previous day and leave it in the fridge. It helps the spices to infuse making it more flavoruful.
- Can add other vegetables and chopped paneer to the curry if you wish.
- If you have a clay pot or individual portion clay pots, bake the biryani in the pots for that traditional feel.
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