Ghugni or Ghoognee is a very popular snack in Bengal and in some areas of Bihar and Orissa. It is made with dried white peas and cooked with myriad spices including Bhaja Masala. Even though the city has got a new name as Kolkata, this dish is still popularly known as Calcutta Ghugni.
While the Northern India has its Chhole, Bengal has its Ghugni. And using the same white (or yellow) dried peas, Mumbai relishes its favourite ragda. So basically the same thing, just with different spices, we prepare and savour this super nutritious food. In other parts of the world, they are known as navy bean, fagioli or pea beans.
Health benefits of white peas:
The fiber rich-white pea is a weight loss boon because it promotes proper digestion and makes you feel full more quickly than many other foods, yet it is low in calories and saturated fat.
Packing an iron punch, white peas come to the rescue for people at risk for iron deficiencies,
Paired with grains (roti, rice) to round out the amino acid content, white peas provide a complete protein that is less expensive and lower in fat than many animal-based products.
Ghugni or semi dry white peas curry makes an excellent snack or breakfast item when served with bread or paav aside. In Punjab side, we call it safed matar ki chaat where its kept spicy and tangy and served with Kulchas or tandoori Naans. Its just yum!
The trick to prepare creamy and tangy ghungni is to let the curry simmer for a while. This brings out the juices and keeps the peas bites soft and mashable. Do not forget to keep it covered at all times, else it dries up very quickly.
Peas comes under the legume category when dried and hence requires the similar amount of soaking and cooking time as other legumes. Once the yellow peas are cooked, making the Ghugni is very simple.
And not to forget- the special masala mix which is a blend of typical bengali spices. Without this mix, you wouldn’t get the perfect taste of Ghugni.
I like serving ghugni with some chopped onion and lemon on top, along with fresh cilantro and a dollop of ghee as always. This is otherwise a vegan dish with no onion or garlic added.
Recipe source: Archanas Kitchen
Bengali Ghugni | Vegan white peas curry | No onion-garlic recipe
- 1 cup dried yellow peas soaked for 4-5 hours
- 2 tomatoes chopped roughly
- 1 inch piece of ginger grated
- ½ tsp kalonji seeds nigella seeds
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- juice from 1 lemon
- 2 green chillies finely chopped
- leaves a small bunch of freshly chopped coriander cilantro
- salt to taste
Ingredients for Ghugni Masala mix (makes ½ cup approximately)
- ¼ cup cumin seeds
- ¼ cup coriander seeds
- 2 tsp rock salt/kala namak
- 2 tsp white pepper
- 2 tsp dry mango powder amchur powder
- 2 tsp red chilli powder
- 4-5 leaves bay
First get the Ghugni Masala ready,
by roasting the cumin seeds and coriander seeds at low gas until browned. Take care not to burn them. Remove from heat and keep aside.
Next, roast the bay leaves at low until they get crispy. It should crush when crumbled between the palms.
Combine the above three ingredients with the others from the Masala list, and grind to a fine powder. Keep this masala aside.
To start making the Ghugni,
cook the soaked yellow peas with enough water in pressure cooker for 5-6 whistles, until soft and mushy. Check the softness by pressing between the two fingers, it should be quickly mashed up.
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat a tbsp of oil. Add in the grated ginger, turmeric powder, chopped tomatoes and freshly prepared ghugni masala. Adjust the salt as required.
Once the tomatoes are soft and mushy, add cooked peas. Bring this curry to a boil and then let it simmer for next 12-15 minutes with a lid on. Stir once or twice in between and adjust the seasoning and water as desired.
Then stir in the chopped coriander leaves and turn off the heat.
Serve the Calcutta Ghugni along with thinly sliced ginger, roughly chopped onions and squeeze some lemon juice on top as a tea time snack.
You may store this Masala mix in the freezer to retain freshness for about 4 to 6 months.
Ghugni can also be served as a main course with Roti, Paratha or thepla.
This one is a no onion-garlic recipe, but I like to have ghugni with loads of chopped onion on top.
Tomatoes are optional to make Ghugni and typically are not used in the authentic dish. But I like this with tomatoes so kept that in the reicpe.
It can also be served with a thepla or kulcha aside, or you mighht want to make it a bit runny to have it with plain rice.
I have a Bengali friend who used to eat boiled egg with ghugi for breakfast. I don’t know if that’s authentic or not, but tastes amazing.
For more legumes curries rich in protein and fiber, check these out:
Punjabi Maah Chhole ki daal (slow cooked two lentil mix curry)
Rajasthani Panchmel daal ( 5 lentil mix curry)
Punjabi Rajma curry (red kidney beans cooked in a rich creamy gravy)
Restaurant style chana masala (chickpeas cooked in a rich gravy)