Chana Aloo Kanghou is a spicy stir fried side dish from my home state of Manipur. I cook Manipuri dishes not only for their taste, but also for the memories they bring for me. This particular dish is a snack which goes very well with afternoon tea or supper. It also goes well with rice, particularly as an after school meal.
I like spicy food because I grew up in a community where spices are important ingredient in bringing out extra tang in the food. If you don’t like spicy food, or do not have one or more of the spices in this recipe, you can simply omit the spices you don’t have or want. The dish will still be tasty.
- 2 medium sized boiled potatoes, chopped into cubes
- 2 cups of cooked small chickpeas
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil, or any vegetable oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
- 1 serving spoon of garlic chives, chopped into half inch pieces
- 1 medium size onion, chopped or thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon of ginger paste, or finely chopped ginger
- 1 teaspoon of garlic paste, or finely chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon of chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric
- ¾ teaspoon of salt
- 3 Indian green chillies, slit in half
- 1 serving spoon of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
- 2 serving spoons of cabbage, chopped (for garnishing)
- 1 medium size onion, thinly sliced (for garnishing)
- Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium flame. Add bay leaves and cumin seeds. Fry until the cumin seeds become light brown.
- Add garlic, chives and onion. Sauté on high heat until the onions become light brown at the edges.
- Add ginger and garlic paste along with all the ground spices. Mix well.
- Add chopped potatoes, chickpeas and salt into the mixture. Fry for 10 minutes.
- One minute before turning off the flame, add the green chilli and half of the chopped coriander. Mix well.
- After turning off the flame, pour the final mixture into a bowl or platter. Garnish the mixture with chopped coriander, sliced onion and cabbage. Enjoy.
Herbs are the most important ingredients in Manipuri cooking. Before cooking any Manipuri meal, picking the right herbs from the garden is essential. Most Manipuri families grow the herbs they use for cooking in their garden, or in pots if they live in small plots. Mint is one of the most commonly used herbs in Manipur, particularly in vegetarian and non vegetarian stir fried dishes. These include small chickpea and mint leaves kanghou, aubergine potato and mint leaves kanghou, overnight soaked dry pea and mint leaves kanghou and baby potatoes and mint kanghou. Kanghous are a side dish with Manipuri main meals, but some kanghous are also served as afternoon tea snacks. Dry pea and mint leaves is one of the kanghous that can be a side dish or an afternoon tea snack.
The main ingredients in this dish are overnight soaked dry peas and mint leaves. Usually I soak the peas before I go to bed or for at least 6 hours before cooking.
- 2 cups of overnight soaked dry peas
- 3 cups of mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon of mustard oil or any vegetable oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon of dry or fresh allium hookeri (maroi napakpi). This is optional because this herb is a local Manipuri herb and difficult to get anywhere outside Manipur. Adding this herb is an advantage, because it will bring out the unique flavour of a real Manipuri stir fried dish.
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
- 4 -5 green chillies, cut in half
- 1 teaspoon of coriander powder or crushed cumin seeds
- ½ cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon of red chilli flakes
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon of salt (adjust according to your taste)
- ½ cup of chopped coriander leaves
- Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the bay leaf and cumin seeds and fry until the cumin seeds become slightly brown.
- Add sliced onions and allium hookeri. Fry on a medium flame until the onions become brown at the edges.
- Add dry peas, green chillies and spices and salt. Mix well. Fry until the peas become soft. Sprinkle a little water on the mixture while frying and stir frequently. This will prevent the dish from becoming dry or burning on the bottom.
- Add mint leaves and mix well. Fry for another 2 minutes.
- Turn off the flame and add coriander leaves. Mix well.
- Serve hot as a side dish or a snack.
This tasty and flavoursome Manipuri salad (singju) always takes me down memory lane to my home town, because I grew up eating this salad 3 to four times a week. It was a favourite afterschool snack for my girlfriends and I on our way back from school. Having this salad with pakouri, papar, bujia and a cup of black lemon flavour tea at Potpham (a Manipuri snack stall run by ladies) was one of my favourite pass times. Manipuris love this salad as a snack or a sidedish. It adds taste to simple meals. There are several varieties of salads in Manipur, including non-vegetarian salads. This one is a vegetarian salad which is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
The dressing for this salad is a very important part of the preparation, because it is the dressing which makes it so delicious. Don’t forget to use a generous amount of herbs, because a Manipuri salad without herbs is like a car without petrol. Some of my salad dressing ingredients are pre made. One pre made ingredient is perila seeds. When I make grinded perilla seeds, I usually make enough to last for at least a week. This is because perilla seeds are not easy to grind in small amounts. So it is a good idea to grind a whole lot at once. You can place the grinded perilla seeds in a jar and store it either in your fridge or at room temperature. I prepare roasted gram flour and chilli powder in exactly the same way as perilla seeds. Sometimes I prepare the perilla seeds just before preparing the salad. But since I eat salad quite often, it saves time to prepare a whole lot of perilla seeds at once and store it for later use.
- 1 ½ cup of finely sliced cabbage
- 1 cup of thinly sliced lotus root
- ½ cup of roughly chopped fresh fenugreek leaves OR pea shoots ( I used fenugreeek leaves)
- 1 teaspoon of finely chopped ginger
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh coriander leaves
- 2 or 3 lomba flowers (a Manipuri local herb). If lomba flowers are not available, omit it.
- 2 tablespoons of roasted and crushed perilla seeds
- 1 ½ tablespoon of roasted gram flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of roasted and crushed red chilli. If you don’t like the salad to be spicy, reduce the amount of chilli.
- 1 serving spoon of roasted and roughly crushed dry peas. You can also use boiled black beans or kidney beans instead of roasted dry peas.
- 1 serving spoon of gram flour or potato bhujia
- Mix all the vegetables and herbs on a salad plate. Mix the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Spread the dressing on the mixture and mix well. Make sure the dressing is mixed well with the entire salad. Enjoy.
Uti is one of the most authentic dishes in Manipur. There are several varieties of the uti dish. It can be cooked by using either green peas, dry peas or green vegetables. Uti is one of the most commonly used vegetarian dishes in many traditional feasts and social gatherings. The dish which I am going to describe here is cooked with black split gram (lentils) and taro corns (a taro corn is the root of the taro plant). The common ingredient in every type of uti is soda-bi-carbonate (cooking soda). This dish can be cooked in a pot, but I recommend a pressure cooker because it will be a lot quicker.
Uti is usually served with short grain plain Manipuri rice or normal short grain rice, along with Ametpa (a type of chutney made from herbs and chilli). You can also include bread or roti (Indian roasted bread).
Serves – 4 to 5
Preperation time – 20 minutes
Cooking time – 40 to 45 minutes
1 cup black split gram
8 to 10 medium size taros; if the taros are large, use 8 to 10 taro halves
4 cups of water (3 cups for cooking the black split gram in the pressure cooker and an additional cup after the lentil is cooked)
1 teaspoon of soda bi carbonate (cooking soda)
3 to 4 small pieces of wild orange skins (named heiribob in Manipuri). This ingredient is used in most Manipuri dishes. Each piece is approximately 3cm long and 4mm wide.
4 green chillies, split in half
Salt – ½ teaspoon, add more if you wish
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 tablespoon of mustard oil or any vegetable oil
I large pinch of asafoetida
1 serving spoon of allium hookeri (named Maroi-napakpi in Manipuri) or Chinese chives (named Maroi-nakuppi in Manipuri ), chopped roughly. If these are not available, you can use 1 serving spoon of sliced red onion
2 to 3 garlic cloves, chopped or crushed
½ teaspoon red chilli powder (optional)
Rinse and soak the black split gram in water for ½ hr. Place water, black split gram, taro and wild orange skin in a pressure cooker. Cook on a medium flame until the pressure cooker gives 4 to 5 whistles. Turn off the flame and let the pressure cooker cool down. Open the lid slowly and stir the mixture. Add more water if necessary.
Place the pressure cooker on a low flame once again, but do not place the lid on top this time. Heat until the mixture begins to boil.
Add soda-bi-carbonate and salt. Heat for 2 more minutes on a low flame and stir the mixture continuously. If you forget to stir while heating, the mixture will quickly expand and spill out of the pot in a very short time.
In the meantime, prepare the tempering. Heat the oil in a small pan and add bay leaves, green chilli, garlic, asafoetida and allium hookeri. Fry until the allium hookeri leaves become brown at the edges. Then pour the mixture over the uti and mix well.
Cook for 3 to 4 more minutes on a medium flame and stir continuously. Sprinkle chopped coriander.
Uti is best served while still hot. Enjoy!!!
This dish is among those which reminds me of my home. My grandmother (i.e. my mother’s mother) used to plant chakhao (Manipuri black rice) in the village where she lived. Every year, just after harvest, she would send some chakhao for us. My other grandmother (i.e. my father’s mother) always made pudding out of it with full cream cow milk. I still remember the sweet smell of chakhao spreading all around the house. We did not cook this pudding very often, because we did not grow much chakhao and we could only harvest it once a year. Cooking this delicious black dessert twice or a three times a year made us appreciate the importance of the dish.
Chakhao is not commonly available in any glocery store. Those who live outside Manipur can only buy it from North east Indian online shopping sites. If you cannot get chakhao, you can use Chinese black rice, because it looks similar to chakhao. But it does not taste the same, because chakhao is more aromatic than Chinese black rice. So if you want to get the proper taste of chakhao pudding, you need to use chakhao itself. In this recipe, I am using Manipuri chakhao which I brought the last time I visited my parents. It is fresh and locally grown.
Chakhao takes longer to cook than normal rice. It is therefore a good idea to first cook it in a pressure cooker to save some time.
- 1. Chakhao (black rice) - 100gm
- 2. Water - 500ml
- 3. Full cream milk - 2lt
- 4. Sugar - 150gm table sugar (or superfine sugar).
- 5. Green cardamom powder- ½ teaspoon. If cardamom powder is not available crush 4 or 5 whole green cardamoms instead. If you are using crushed green cardamom, make sure you either remove the seeds or crush them completely. This is because the seeds have a strong flavour which is not pleasant if you chew the seeds directly.
- 6. Light coloured sultanas - 1 tablespoon
- 7. Shredded coconuts - 1 tablespoon
- 8. Cashew nuts - 2 tablespoons. If cashew nuts are not available, 2 tablespoons of sliced almonds, dried pine nuts or pistachios can also be used. Cashew nuts are preferable though, because they will make the pudding taste better.
- Place the chakhao and water in a pressure cooker. Cook on a medium flame till the pressure cooker gives 3 whistles. Turn off the flame and leave the pressure cooker until it cools down. Important note: In most pressure cookers, 3 whistles is sufficient for the chakhao to cook properly. Some pressure cookers are different though. If you find the chakhao has not cooked properly after 3 whistles on your particular pressure cooker, don’t worry. It will still cook to an acceptable standard in the following steps that I am about to explain. In this situation though, next time you cook the dish, you might try to leave the chakhao in the pressure cooker until it gives 4 or even 5 whistles.
- Pour the milk in a deep pot and boil on a low flame so it will not spill out. Once the milk is boiled, add cardamom powder, sugar and the cooked chakhao from the pressure cooker. Stir the mixture frequently, this time on a medium flame. Frequent stirring will prevent the mixture from sticking on the bottom of the pot. Cook until there is a foam on top of the mixture. The foam should have a creamy texture.
- Add the sultanas, cashew nuts and shredded coconut about one minute before you turn off the flame.
- Serve hot or cold. I prefer the pudding to be hot in winter and chilled in summer.