Friday, February 7, 2020

Green Chickpea Salad

The best part of walking the streets in Pune is the abundance of fresh vegetables. The plethora of vendors selling just picked spinach, bright green peas pods, ruby red carrots, arm long drumsticks along with a host of local vegetables makes me weep with joy. A winter favorite is harbhara  as we call it in Marathi aka green chickpeas, sold streetside, in bunches. These chickpeas grow on small bushes, in light green pods. They look exactly like brown garbanzo beans. Carts are piled high with these bunches, tied with rope. They stoke childhood memories, of bazaar trips, where we were allowed to pick and munch them as we shopped. Of long road trips in our trusty Ambassador, stopping enroute to buy harbhara in villages.

With this onslaught of memories I am compelled to buy some. Just one bunch. Which I take an inordinately long time to peel. I eat a few sweet green peas. The realization that this will take a good part of an hour slows the nibbling. If I eat and nibble I will be left with a paltry amount.  But temptation prevails, so my harvest is less than a cup! You could buy them peeled, but where's the fun in that?

Borrowing from a peanut chaat I sample in Rajasthan, I flash fry the peas. Well drained on paper towels, the peas are mixed with chopped onion, tomato, fresh cilantro, fresh grated coconut, green chiles, lime juice, sugar and coarsely ground peanuts. The flavors are like no other. Harbhara has a distinct grassy taste. A fresh flavor in your mouth, one I cannot compare. So if you are fortunate to be in Western India in the winter months, do pick up a bunch. Find the small pods. Open one. Pop the green pea in your mouth. Taste the earth, the grass, the freshness of just picked vegetables.

Serves 2

1 cup peeled fresh Green Chickpeas or Harbhara
1 tablespoon chopped Red Onion
1 tablespoon chopped Tomato
1 Green Chile, minced
1 tablespoon fresh Cilantro, chopped finely
1 teaspoon ground fresh Coconut
A large pinch of Salt
1 tablespoon Lime juice
1 teaspoon coarsely ground Peanuts

Heat  1/4 cup oil in a pan.

Fry chickpeas for 20 seconds. Drain on paper towels. 

Put chickpeas in a bowl.

Add chopped onion, tomatoes, chile, coconut, salt and lime juice. Mix well.

Scatter peanuts over chickpeas and serve. 

Eat them raw. Fry them. Cook them. Any which way, they taste delicious!!!