Spiced Chickpea Poppers and Other Musings

October 10, 2011 2 Comments

Harness your time.

That's my new life motto. Every day, whether I am running on the track, driving to the grocery store, or putting the kids to bed I'm mentally chanting what is fast becoming my personal mantra. Harness my time. Don't let it slip needlessly through my fingers.

It's easy NOT to harness. Especially with kids I have no idea where my time goes. And I find myself angry, resentful, and frustrated that my to-do list awaits me while Aria throws one more temper tantrum about not wanting to brush her teeth in the morning. Even this blog post has taken me weeks to put out when it should have been days. WTF?

What I'm realizing is that I've been wasting too much time looking for something that's no long at my disposal. I don't have hours to sit down and focus on any one project any more. My life is increments of 15 minutes. And if I don't take charge of those 15 minute moments then I'm doomed to a life filled with unachieved to-do lists and tasks.

My first move to clearly harness was last week before my bootcamp session. I get to the gym at 8:30 a.m. after dropping off the kids, and wait around for bootcamp to start an hour later. That's one hour of work I could be doing. What I was doing was heading to the locker room and chatting ... lounging ... waiting. No longer. These are the moments that I am now arresting and using for this blog and writing. In just one extra hour a day and one week I've managed to put this blog post together and finally get it out. Often starting a task is all you need to do to finally cross it off that list.

I know it won't work every time, but make it your mantra too. Stick that laundry basket in the kids room and fold a little here and there while the kids work on their homework. Chop those veggies and prep dinner in the few minutes before that run on a Saturday morning. Eliminate the excuses and start focussing on what you do have. The glass is half full and waiting to be filled again, and again and again...it may never be completely full but with kids that's what you signed up for. So, do like I am trying - and start harnessing those increments of 15 minutes and see where it gets you! You just might be surprised!

Baked, Spiced Chickpeas: Lately, chickpea poppers have been all the rage on various food blogging sites. I learned about them two years ago from a fellow mom at school. Chasity told me how she would bake spiced chickpeas for her boys - call them poppers - and they would eat them up - the perfect kiddie finger food. I was immediately fascinated.

Being Indian-American I had hundreds of ways to cook chickpeas, but we always cooked them with a curried base or masala. I'd never thought about taking them cooked and then baking them with garam masala. How cool, I thought. And apparently so did my girls. The first time I made them, Neha and Aria not only ate them up but actually insisted that I put them in their lunch boxes the next day.

I loved that idea even more - I'm always looking for high protein, vegetarian options for their lunches. Look no further. Once you make these, you'll not only make them again and again, but likely you'll also take my tip to heart that many other food bloggers have yet to get: don't use canned chickpeas if you can avoid them. Start with dry beans and cook them in the slow cooker (crock pot). They're not only more delicious, they also hold their texture much better. And, I'd argue, they're much more nutritious for you - less salt and more nutrients.

So, your first step is to pull out your slow cooker. I use a 3 1/2 quart Cuisinart with a built-in timer. I like to make my batches of beans in a smaller slow cooker so that I'm not overwhelmed and get through them rather quickly.

Dry Chickpeas
Sookha Kabhuli Channa

SLOW COOKER SIZE: 3 1/2-QUART, COOKING TIME: 4 HOURS ON HIGH                         Yield: 8 cups

3 cups dried chickpeas, cleaned and washed                                                 5 cups water

Put chickpeas and water in slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours. Once finished, drain in colander. Whatever you don't use immediately, store in the freezer, where it can last up to three months. In the refrigerator cooked beans will last up to a week. Folks, try making chickpeas this way and stop using needlessly expensive canned varieties. They not only have additives, they are also mushy in texture. You just can't beat eating a bean cooked from dried. Though, I always do keep a few canned beans on hand just in case I'm in a pinch.

Now...onto the good stuff.

Chickpea Poppers
Yield: 4 cups

4 cups cooked chickpeas (cook in slow cooker or use 2 12 oz. cans)
1 tablespoon masala (garam, chaat, chana, or sambhar)
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon red chile pepper, cayenne, or paprika

Adjust oven rack to the highest level in the oven closest to the burner and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place sheet of aluminum foil in baking tray for easy clean up.

Drain the chickpeas in a large colander for about 15 minutes to get rid of as much moisture as possible. If using canned, rinse first.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together gently and then pour onto a baking sheet.

Cook for 15 minutes. Take tray out of oven carefully, mix gently so that the chickpeas cook evenly, and cook another 10           minutes.

Cool for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with red chile powder if you’re daring. Paprika works great too!

Try This! Make an easy chaat with these poppers. With one cup of cooked chickpeas, add chopped onion, tomato, cilantro, lemon juice and a pinch of kala namak. Top it off with tamarind chutney. Serve it all on individual lettuce leaves for a fun variation on a salad.

2 Responses

Veena Singla
Veena Singla

October 11, 2011

That is great idea. I will try and let you know.
Also try soaking overnight and sprouting for 10-12 hours and do the baking part and skip the cook part!


October 30, 2011

Definitely want to try these! Just made your spicy butternut squash recipe from your cookbook and my daughter and I both loved it. Thanks so much! I accidentally grew butternut squash this year (mislabeled pumpkins) so have LOTS to use up! I didn’t have any fenugreek seeds so just omitted them and it was still good, but I really want to try it again once I find some.

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