Channa and aloo – A copy cat version of this warm and hearty Trinidadian dish
I’m sure you’re probably perplexed by the title of the post, correct? Well don’t worry as you read on I’ll explain a bit more about what channa and aloo is and why you should consider incorporating some into your diet.
This recipe hails from the island of Trinidad and Tobago also known as sweet T&T. A family friend of mine was from Trinidad and whenever I’d pay her a flying visit, she’d always have something amazing cooking in the kitchen.
Being from different islands provided us with the perfect opportunity to exchange cultural differences, sometimes we’d exchange recipes or just have a general chit chat about our native island. One thing for sure, we both share a love for cooking.
I’ll never forget the day our friend introducted us to channa and aloo which basically translates to chickpeas and potatoes. It was brimming with flavour and so aromatic, as I sat there waiting for her to serve dinner my mouth was literally watering, it was so embarrassing but in hindsight that’s what her food did to us and sadly she is not longer with us.
In short this recipe albeit modified pays homage to our beautiful friend, who shared her unique way of making channa and aloo. I hope it do some justice and convey just how meaningful this recipe truly is, it’s gluten free, flavourful some and freezer friendly, make it on the weekend, freeze and defrost and heat in the oven during a busy week. Additionally, the flavour won’t be compromised which is a added bonus.
Rather than follow the traditionally of making channa and aloo with white potatoes, I opted to use sweet potatoes because they don’t wreck havoc on the insulin levels or create a blood sugar surge. By using sweet potatoes makes the recipe ideal for anyone suffering from metabolic disorders along with keeping you fuller for longer.
Trinidadians love their roti, so it comes as no surprise that channa and aloo is usually served with some paratha roti. I personally like the chickpeas and potatoes are filling without the extra roti on the side.
It’s so much more cheaper to use dried chickpeas which is what I did, soaked them overnight and boiled them. If you’re pushed for time, simply skip the aforementioned and move on prepping the base.
- ½ cup of dried chickpeas
- 1tbsp + 1tsp of curry powder
- 1 small onion, diced
- ¼ of a scotch bonnet (use a chili pepper if not available)
- 1tbsp of coriander (use 3 leaves of culantro if available)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼tsp of black pepper
- 1st of himalayan pink salt
- 1 tsp of cumin seeds
- 2 scallion stalks, chopped
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into halves and quartered
- coconut oil for sauteeing
- Rinse the dried chickpeas several times before leaving them to soak overnight in water. They will begin to swell and expand overnight, this is normal.
- Drain the water again and add 6-8 cups of water to a 3 quart pan with the channa and bring to the boil before reducing to a simmer for 30 minutes, where the chickpeas will tenderise.
- Once tender remove pan from the stove allow to cool before separating the chickpeas from the boiled water (you'll need it later, don't discard.)
- Mix the curry powder with the coriander and 5 tablespoons of water.
- Add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to a heavy duty pan on medium heat temper the cumin seeds until they release their aroma and pop.
- Then toss in the garlic, onion, scallion and hot pepper continue to sautee them for 1-2 minutes until slightly brown, now mix in the watery curry paste, stirring all the while until in darkens
- Add the chickpeas, coating them in the curry mix, do stir often to prevent sticking and burning.
- Now add the potatoes to the pan along and season the entire pan with salt and pepper.
- Pour the chickpea water over the channa and aloo enough to cover everything in the pan, how much will depend on the pan's circumference, you shouldn't exceed the leftover water.
- Bring to the boil, before reducing to a slow simmer for 20 minutes. The liquid will absorb and thicken somewhat as it simmers away.
- Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool down and thicken further before serving.