Grandmas and green chickpeas

Grandmas and green chickpeas

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There is something about fresh seasonal produce that I find quite irresistible. Ruby red tomatoes, creamy cauliflowers, shiny purple brinjals, crunchy white radish and the greens – spinach, fenugreek, dil and coriander – all alluringly beautiful.

Hence vegetable shopping these days is an exercise in self control. The husband has his own theory of course. He insists it’s my all-encompassing shopping bug that does not even spare vegetables. 

Just LOOK at those colours. I clicked this one at Mahabaleswar but you do get the idea, right?

But really, they’re so fresh and healthy that they’re a complete delight to behold. I buy them and get them home and then don’t quite know what to do with them. A case in point being chana or green chickpeas that make an appearance in the winter. It was Rachna who reminded me of them.


During winter months our grandmoms would sit in the warm afternoon sun in the angan, talking till the sun went down. Yet, they were never really idle. Even as they chatted, their hands would be busy knitting, cleaning rice or daal, making sewains (the handmade ones) or of course shelling peas or chana.

We’d be drowsing by, a book in hand. The clink of chanas dropping into the steel bowl took on a hypnotic quality. Through half open eyes we’d watch the bowl filling up steadily, while the branches with empty pods still on them, piled up on the other
side. We’d chip in sometimes, eating more than we shelled, only to be shooed away.
They would then be
ground by hand on a stone sil-batta to get a bright green paste, which was then cooked with the most redolent of
spices – cinnamom and bay leaf, cloves and cardamoms black and green and many many others.
Finally it would
turn into a thick shiny emerald green flavourful gravy. With a blob of home-made
butter, it sat on a mound of equally aromatic basmati rice and made our winter
lunches memorable. It was called the nimoma.
My grandmom would also make green boondi laddoos. She would grind chana, make tiny boondis (just like the ones made from gram flour) then add sugar syrup and bind them into delectable laddoos

The laddoos remained beyond me but the nimona I did try a few times. However, I never could get it right. It may have to do with
the fact that I don’t quite have a master’s touch when it comes to cooking. Or
maybe I just don’t have the meticulous way with ingredients that turns them
into works of delicious art.

Mostly, I suspect, it’s because, it is a mindboggling amount of work.
I cannot but marvel at how much dilegence and precision that generation put into cooking. That too without weights and measures and teaspoons and tablespoons. I’d watch in
fascination as my grandmom would measure out the salt that went into our daily daal on
the palm of her hand – and I’m talking rock salt crystals not the powdered salt
we use today. She’d get it right each time, every time.
Here I am, not even able to make tea without precisely measuring out
the water cup by cup and woe-betide anyone who changes the spoon in my teabox. I
never could get the ‘andaaz‘ thing right. 
So I stick with the simple and uncomplicated – like this salad. The recipe is here at Rachana’s blog. I added flax seeds for extra crunch. Try it, it comes out great, I might add.

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14 Replies to “Grandmas and green chickpeas”

  1. Oh I missed catching up on so many of your posts!
    Nonetheless, I am here now. 😀

    Also, I agree. I too am amazed with how our parents/grandparents managed to put out such delicious food every single time, without ever having to measure anything.

    Though I consider myself a fairly good cook, I would be a little lost without my measuring cups and spoons.

  2. Wow, this post stirred so many memories. I love green chains or chholia as it was called. It has been years since I have eaten it. Your grandma's green boondi sounds delectable!

  3. You are so right when you talk of the meticulous care that the mom/grandmom generation put into their cooking. I doubt I can ever manage without my measuring cups and spoons. I don't even make chilli powder at home for idlis/dosas whereas my mom would grind it fresh each time. Incredible, right? You've done a lovely job of rousing those memories from childhood. Makes me want to sit again at grandma's feet and listen to the way she'd shell those peas or clean the rice.

  4. Ah! such colors. I don't really enjoy buying fresh produce but looking at these pictures looks cool. And tea – I make the same way. cup by cup – all measured 🙂

  5. Ah fresh produce. Ages since I found some.

    The chick pea salad is a really good recipe. It's quick, easy and delicious. Next time, I'll add the flax seeds too!

  6. You know Tulika reading this I miss my parents, they love shopping for fresh produce..And everytime I go home the fresh seasonal vegetables that they so lovingly prepare for me makes me realise how much I miss them…

    And then I miss my grandma because she use to especially make sure that she made my favourite of the season when I went visiting…You took me back to my loved ones 🙂

    1. Ah I think I've picked up this love from my parents too. You should gear my dad raving about how fresh the vegetables look and bringing them home by the kilos.

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