Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday: Pale Green Things

Methi chole (fenugreek and green chickpea curry).

Lizz's parents visited us in New York this past weekend, and since they had a car, we took advantage of the opportunity to stock up on Indian groceries in Jackson Heights.  In addition to two gigantic ten-pound bags of Lal Qilla brand deradunhi basmati rice, tons of dal, and a block of jaggery (more on that later), we brought home a lovely harbinger of spring: fresh green chana in their shells! 

These little guys are only available in the springtime at Indian grocery stores, though the frozen and shelled version is widely available.  They are fresh, only partially mature chickpeas, and they grow in cute little pods that look like green peas:

Also like peas, they have a "green" note and a slightly sweet flavor, and cook very quickly - more like a fresh vegetable than like a dried legume. 

This recipe pairs the chana with fresh methi - fenugreek greens.  These are the greens of the same plant that gives us fenugreek seeds (the source of fake maple sugar flavor, and a frequent component in curry powders).  The flavor of methi is hard to describe, but the greens are noticeably fragrant and herbal - in fact, the dried version is used as a flavoring in some other Indian dishes.  We highly recommend trying them out if you've never had them: they're easy to wilt into vegetable or legume dishes of many kinds.

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