Thursday, December 8, 2011

Munch bowl: Sprouted chana chaat

A common saying I've grown up with, is that sprouting whole legumes makes it easier to digest them.
Back in India, my mom did a lot of sprouting; especially during the monsoons - our favorites being whole green moong beans, moth bean (Turkish gram) and  kala chana (Bengal gram). While I loved to eat mung and moth sprouts raw, the chana was another story. Even after being sprouted and slightly sautee-ed; the gram is extremely chewy. And the lazy bum that I was (am); I dismissed chana sprouts by justifying that the effort-to-satiation index was (is) just not worth it.  

So now in the USA; I have never been successful with sprouting. I didn't really like the taste of bean sprouts available in grocery stores. The mung and moth sprout a bit; and then just turn black and mildew-y. And I never even bothered messing with chana at all - till recently. During my MIL's visit this past summer, she soaked some kala chana for an evening meal. Except that she didn't get the estimate right, and we had way more soaked chana than we'd ever eat. So I took out some and decided to sprout them- my incentive being that at least my MIL and A like sprouted chana. And I was not disappointed.

Chane ki Chaat 
(Bengal gram sprouts salad)

Chana sprouts  about 1 cup
Onion 1 medium diced
Tomato 1 medium diced
Green chillies 2-3 chopped fine
A squeeze of lemon juice
Cilantro (to garnish)
Salt  1/2 Tbsp
Chaat masala to taste (optional)
Cumin / jeera seeds a generous pinch
Vegetable Oil 1 Tbsp

  1. To sprout chana (or any other legume), soak the beans in plenty of water overnight. Then drain out the water, tie the beans in a moist cheesecloth and hang them in a warm airy spot for 2-3 days. Lightly moisten the cloth every other day, till the sprouts start poking out of cheesecloth.
  2. When you're ready to cook the sprouts, take them out, and wash them lightly. I tend to soak them in water for another 30 min. or so before cooking.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed kadai, spluter the jeera in it, the add the the sprouts. Cover and let them cook in their own steam on high for 5-6 min. You may meed to toss them once for even cooking.
  4. Now toss the cooked sprouts together with onion- tomato -chillies and spices. Squeeze some lemon juice, put in some fresh cut cilantro and enjoy.
My two cents: Another saying that I grew up with, is that the sprout should only be a single stalk. Once the root and the stem start to seperate, sprouts should not be eaten. But that could very well have been my Jain household where there were notions about sanctity of every living thing, even if it were a plant.  So my chana did sprout this time, but it was very slow. I remember my mom's sprouts growing an inch-a-day. My sprouts were tiny by comaprison....and some of the chana did start to get mildewy in 3 days.  This chaat was one of my dad's favorite - I can still picture him with a bowl of this in his hand, talking to me about the importance of "eating healthy"....This is definitely one of the healtier, protein-rich vegetarian sides that I know of in traditional Jain households (minus the onion, of course!!). As expected, both girls refused to acknowledge this dish, A and my MIL ate bowls-ful; and I toyed with some, for old times sake.......

Linked to :
Snacks Mela
Lets cook for Christmas- red and green Event
MLLA # 42 started by Susan