Spicy crunchy chick pea snack
When I'm really into something, whether it's trying to debug some code or work out a design that won't gel, I forget about everything else, including eating. Then, hours later I raise my head out of the mire and I'm starving and ready to eat everything in sight - usually stuff like potato chips and cookies.
That can't be too healthy, so I've really tried to keep around non-distracting yet reasonably healthy things to snack on while working (and a bottle of water too). Fresh, portable fruit like apples and bananas are great of course. So are nuts, but while nuts are quite healthy overall, they are also very high in calories. And a handful of dry-roasted peanuts, which could be about half a cup, is more than 335 calories. So some time ago, I switched to using beans in snacks. Chick peas are perfect for this since they cook relatively fast because of their rather thin skins, and a cupful is around 270 calories. Even with the added olive oil, 3 tablespoons for the whole batch, it's still quite lower in calories, and quite tasty too. (Source for calorie figures: Calorie Count.) A half-cupful is just as filling as the equal amount of nuts.
There are lots of recipes online for crunchy snacky chick peas, including one for Chickpeas with Thai Chiles in the most recent Food section of the New York Times. I tend to vary the flavor of mine depending on my mood, but this spicy version is my current favorite. It has added taste and texture interest because of the addition of whole spices - black cumin seeds, whole cumin seeds, mustard seeds, plus red pepper flakes and ground cardamon. It has a wonderful sort of Middle-Eastern/Indian flavor. You can use any kind of ground or whole spices you like, but I would avoid turmeric since that can stain your fingers, and whatever you wipe your fingers on (like your jeans...)
Incidentally, the German word for chick peas is kichererbsen, which literally means "giggling peas". Whenever I ask the Taste Tester to bring home some chick peas from the store he feels obliged to giggle like a girl. I try to remember to bop him one when he does it, but the tough love approach isn't curing this odd affliction so far.
Spicy crunchy chick peas
Note, I do cook dry chick peas since they are so much cheaper than the canned kind, and as I've noted above they cook relatively fast compared to other beans. If you are in a hurry or can't be bothered, use canned, drained chick peas.
- 1lb or 500g bag of dry chick peas
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3 Tbs. olive oil
- 1-2 tsp (or more or less, depending on how spicy you want it) dried red chili pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. black onion seeds (also called nigella seeds)
- 1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
- 1 tsp. black mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp. ground cardamon
- Juice from 1 small lime or 1/2 lemon
- Sea salt
Sort the chick peas (take out any discolored ones) and soak in water for several hours or overnight. Drain. Place in a pot, add water so that it comes up to about 2 inches / 5 cm above the chickpeas, and bring to boil; lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for about 2 hours, until the peas are tender. (If you use a pressure cooker, you can cook then in about 15 minutes without soaking.) Drain. You'll have about 6 cups of cooked chickpeas.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
Peel and chop the garlic cloves rather coarsely.
Toss all the ingredients together thoroughly. Spread evenly over a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring around midway through. Take out and let cool. [Edit: this baking time turns out peas that are a mix of crunchy ones and ones that are still a bit soft - I like this variety. Since all ovens vary, you will need to test the doneness. If you like your peas to be a bit soft, bake them for a shorter time; if you like them very crunchy leave them in longer.]
Store this in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes a great beer snack.
You can make it sweet-spicy by sprinkling over some brown or raw sugar to while it's still hot from the oven.
Makes about 6 cups.
You can find onion (nigella) seeds and other spices at an Indian grocery store. Online you can find them on the Amazon Gourmet store.
The seeds can turn a little bitter after roasting. I like that bitterness but if you don't, just leave the seeds behind when serving the chick peas. The flavors will still be there. Or, add them later on in the cooking process, with about 10 minutes to go.