If you ever happen to be in India, outside a Bohra pilgrimage place, you will likely spot a stall with chickpeas and potatoes simmering on the stove, stationed closely would be suspicious looking neon red liquid, a deep brown tamarind sauce and chopped red onions. On placing an order, the vendor wearing his rugged topi (a white and golden threaded Bohra cap) takes an earthenware bowl from the tall stack and ladles in heaps of chickpeas and potatoes. He will ask you if you liked it spicy, and even though the thoughts of the burning sensation crosses the mind, it is inevitable to answer - yes.
My favourite has to be the vendor in my own town or the one found in Mumbai. They both have different approach to it. The former adds red chilly liquid and tamarind followed by fresh sprinkling of chopped coriander. The one is Mumbai adorns his with fresh chopped onions, diced tomatoes and sprinkle of red chilly powder along with tamarind sauce.
In my town, you have to be at the stall before the afternoon onset as in no time he is sold out. And then it would be another day long wait till you get any chana bateta. A day without his legendary sweet, spicy and tangy concoction of chickpeas and potatoes is a vacation fail. It meant you couldn't call your cousins abroad and tell them how they are missing out on life's best pleasures and that they should have after all joined you for the holidays to enjoy all that street food. I think life as an expat can be pretty exciting that way, having friends and relatives all over the world, talking endlessly about food we crave back from the country.
Black chickpeas are best in this recipe but white garbanzo are preferred by some. Soaking the chickpeas overnight is best and pressure cooking them certainly cuts down the time considerably but in a pinch, and really just when life's a little to mad at you or vice versa, a can of chickpeas would work.
Chana Bateta - Chickpeas and Potato in Tamarind Sauce
1 ½ - 2 cup black chickpeas (kala chana) or regular chickpeas
½ kg potatoes
4 tbsp chickpeas flour (besan)
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp roasted cumin powder
4 tbsp oil
½ tbsp ginger garlic paste
2-3 green chilies
3 ½ cup water
¼ cup tamarind chutney
1/4 cup coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Chopped mint leaves
Red chilly powder
Chopped coriander leaves
Boil the chickpeas and potatoes separately and keep aside.
Heat oil in a pan and add the ginger garlic paste and the spices.
Tip in the besan and keep whisking it to ensure it doesn't’t burn. Look for cooked besan aroma (about 2 minutes) and then add the water. Whisk to remove any lumps and let the mixture come to a boil.
Add the boiled chickpeas and the let it reduce to a slightly thick gravy.
Add the potatoes and coriander leaves.
Add the tamarind chutney and adjust the sourness to desire.
Garnish with coriander leaves, mint leaves , sprinkle of red chili powder and onions.