Today’s recipe is a classic from the eastern side of U.P. Kala chana Turai/Tori or as it is called Nenua Chana in Varanasi, is one of the many simple, yet delicious side dishes which are prepared extensively in summer season across the eastern UP belt of India.
My love for cooking up vegetables with lentils is so evident in this blog. Like with this Lauki chana dal or Paneer chana dal or Gobhi chhole masala, I try to get the most of my everyday meals by experimenting with various combinations of vegetables and lentils.
This chana turai sabzi however, is not my invention and is a very popular summer dish typically served with roti/chapathi aside. And a dollop of ghee. Yum!
Sadly, here in the UK, we don’t get the same variety of Tori or turai that much. The gourds we get here are sponge gourd and snake gourd which are similar to Turai but not exactly the same. Although to keep it simpler, sponge gourd is what tori is generally called in English.
So in this recipe I have used the vegetable which we do get here in abundance i.e. Zucchini a.k.a Courgette. It is a very nutritious vegetable of squash variety which when combined with kala channa black chickpeas, makes a delicious powerhouse of proteins and essential vitamins. Plus it’s easy on palate so it also helps in getting the rock solid chickpeas to get digested alongside.
Its prepared in typical Banaras style, with mustard oil and methi seeds added to the tempering. Typically, the tori bits (sponge gourd/snake gourd/zucchini/courgette) are slightly overcooked to keep the consistency a bit mushy. You could adjust the cooking time and process according to your choice and taste.
I pressure cook the chickpeas separately and then add it to the curry in the second stage of cooking. This process makes sure the chickpeas are not undercooked as that may upset the stomach. Even if you are using the store bought canned chickpeas, always add the chickpeas first to the pan and after some 10 minutes of cooking add the guards and cook further. This extra cooking time also ensures that the flavours get infused in chickpeas.
So here is the recipe of Banaras’s favourite Nenua chana sabzi. Enjoy! 🙂
Accompaniments– chilled yoghurt raita OR any mild dal (lentil curry) with roti/chapathi
Nenua chana sabzi | Zucchini with black chickpeas curry
Delicious vegan curry from the region of Eastern U.P., this nenua chana sabji is a summer favourite.
- 1 cup whole bengal gram or black chickpeas (Kala chana) washed and soaked overnight or for 6 to 8 hours
- 2-3 medium sized zucchini/courgettes (or sponge gourd/snake gourd/tori/turai/nenua)
- 2 tbsp Mustard oil
- 1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
- A pinch of Asafoetida (Hing) powder
- 2 medium sized onions diced
- 4-5 cloves of garlic minced
- 2-3 green chilies chopped fine
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
- 2 tsp Coriander powder (dhaniya)
- 1 tsp red chili powder (laal mirchi)
- 2 tsp salt (or as per taste)
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder (jeera)
- 1/2 tsp dry mango powder (khatai/amchoor)
- A handful of fresh coriander leaves (dhaniya patti/cilantro)
Preparation: Cook the chickpeas first
Soak the Kala chana (black chickpeas) overnight or for at least 6-8 hours in warm water. Then pressure cook till two whistles with 1 tsp of salt and a pinch of turmeric. Once the pressure eases off, open and keep aside.
To prepare the sabzi, heat mustard oil in a wok at high gas till light smoke comes out of the oil. Turn the heat to medium and add fenugreek (methi) seeds and asafoetida (hing) powder. Allow the seeds to crackle for 8-10 seconds.
Add chopped onions into it and mix it well. Cook the mixture on medium flame, stirring occasionally till chopped onions turn golden brown in colour.
Add the chopped green chillies and garlic into it and fry for about half a minute.
Then add red chilli powder, turmeric (haldi) powder, coriander seeds (dhania) powder and salt into the mixture and mix.
Now add cooked black chickpea (kala chana) in the pan and mix it well. Cook covered for about a minute just to let it soak in the flavours. You could add a tablespoon of water if the tempering is too dry.
Then add the chopped sponge gourd (turai/tori/nenua) into it and mix it well. Once mixed, again cover it with a lid and cook covered for about 8-10 minutes allowing the sponge gourd to get cooked completely. Keep stirring occasionally. Turai releases enough water so there shouldn't be any need for you to add some more.
When the sabzi is almost cooked, add garam masala powder, dry mango (amchoor) powder and cumin seeds (jeera) powder into it. Mix well, check for the consistency and add 1-2 tbsp of water is required and cook till its all soaked up well.
Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with phulka or as a side with dal rice combo.
In this version, I keep the quantity of black chickpeas more and zucchini less. But when I cook this with the actual Indian tori/turai I use less chana and more turai and make it slightly mushy. You could try both versions and pick the one you like more.
Some other dishes from the state of U.P. and Bihar you might like: