Chat Leftovers: Name that snack

March 27, 2013

Is there no end to the Madness? First came the March variety, then the Beer variety and now: doughnuts. Okay, we’re not calling it Doughnut Madness, but our 12-week taste-off starts today, and when the powdered sugar settles we’ll be choosing and crowning our favorite hometown doughnut. Read our first report here.

Also in Food this week, writer Tim Carman introduces you to Erik Bruner-Yang, who launched the spectacularly successful Toki Underground on H Street NE and is poised to open a “food and fashion” project nearby before the end of the year. Southern food maven Virginia Willis presents five tarts for the Easter table, both sweet and savory, and as someone who got to taste all of them, I can authoritatively say: yum. And Jane Black digs into the subject of those school gardens that became instantly popular — in some cases before the schools had quite figured out how to make use of them.

And, of course, there’s the aforementioned Beer Madness, in which we announce our Round 1 results. Turns out brews from Maryland are doing themselves proud, as we sip our way to picking the best beer in the Chesapeake region.

That’s a lot to swallow, so if you can’t get it all read by noon, you’re allowed to take an hour off to join our Free Range chat. We have a treat today: Virginia Willis will be a guest. Get your questions ready, and be there at 12 sharp.

To get you in the spirit, here’s a leftover question from a previous chat:

I used to know an Indian woman who would bring back snacks when she went to visit her family. Among them were chickpeas that she said were boiled, flattened, fried, then spiced. So addictive! I never got the recipe and can’t find them at local Indian grocery stores. Any thoughts on what they are, and either where to buy them or how to make them?

Wow; I’m a chickpea lover and those sound amazing. But I’ve never had them, so for this question I knew I’d need reinforcements, and who better to call in than Monica Bhide?

Monica says your snack seems to be chana jor garam, a popular street food in India, and she sent this link to a photo of a bag of the commercially produced product. As you can see on the cover, it’s described rather inelegantly as “squashed chic peas.” Monica writes that “most Indian stores sell this snack.” I put in a call to India A-1 Grocery in Arlington, and they said they carry it.

I found several recipes online, but let me tell you, they take some doing. You start with black chickpeas, soak them, boil them, cool them, let them dry and then comes the real work: You press them flat one by one, pushing down on them with something heavy, like the bottom of a bowl.

Then you deep-fry them and toss them with spices. Depending on whose recipe you’re following, those could include salt, red chili powder, turmeric, garam masala, paprika, clove powder, cinnamon or amchur.

Whew, that’s a lot of work. You’ll really need something to eat after you’re through.

Once you have the spiced chickpeas — whether you make them or buy them — you can turn them into this snack. Monica says it comes together “in a snap . . . we love making this for our guests.”

So there you are. If you can’t find the fried chickpeas in stores, you can find them via a Web search using a few different spellings. I’ve found Chana/Channa, and I’ve found Jor/Chor/Choor. Happy hunting.

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