June 30, 2022
India is a land of snacks — from crunchy, addictive, savory, nut-filled chevdas to tingly, glorious street foods such as chaats.
Some of the snacks can be transformed into cold salads — and this summer, I am on a path of discovery. I ate a warm sundal, a traditional South Indian salad made with chickpeas, coconut and mild spices once in a restaurant in New Delhi, and the memory has haunted me ever since. Sundal can be served warm, cold or at room temperature, and it makes for the most satisfying midday or late-night snack. Staying true to my tradition of turning most foods into carriers for vegetables, here I threw in tiny local ‘Sun Gold’ tomatoes and purple cabbage — but feel free to add diced cherry or large heirloom tomatoes.
serves 4 to 6
1 cup garbanzo beans
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons amchur
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
Pinch of asafetida
10 to 12 curry leaves, chopped
1 cup grated coconut
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon red chili powder or 1 serrano, minced
1 cup minced, thinly sliced cabbage
Cilantro sprigs for garnish
Soak the garbanzo beans overnight. Drain, add fresh water and in a large stockpot over high heat, bring to a boil. Skim off any foamy impurities or alternately, drain the water and add fresh water and bring to a boil again. Add 1 teaspoon salt and simmer, covered for 45 minutes to an hour, until the beans are soft and tender. Let the beans rest in the liquid for 15 to 20 minutes — this allows them to plump slightly and soften even more. Drain and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, black pepper, and amchur and set aside in a large bowl.
In a medium-size frying pan, warm 3 tablespoons olive oil and pop the mustard seeds. Immediately after, add the asafetida and curry leaves. Within a second or two, add the coconut (reserve a teaspoon or two for garnish) and fry on medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, chili, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook for just a few minutes, or until the tomatoes soften slightly. Then pour this mixture into the bowl with the garbanzo beans. Let the tomato masala cool for 30 to 40 minutes before mixing, then add the cabbage and cilantro and toss the entire mixture.
Serve garnished with cilantro sprigs and coconut. Enjoy it room temperature or cold.
Use fresh or frozen coconut — if using desiccated, soak in 1/2 cup of warm water before using.
The asafetida is an essential part of this recipe; however, it can be replaced by using a teaspoon of minced garlic and 1/2 cup minced red onions (add with the coconut and cook for an extra 3 to 4 minutes).
This salad can be made with any beans, such as black, pinto or red beans.
Amchur is sun-dried green mango and can be bought at any Indian grocer or online — it contributes to the tangy flavor of the chickpeas but can be substituted with sumac or the juice of 1 or 2 lemons.
December 02, 2022