The not so famous five stormed down the stairs, all fully clothed (bar Caleb) at seven o’clock this morning. John on iPad, myself making myself a coffee. Breakfast consisted of almost a whole loaf of bread, butter and a combination of homemade blackberry Jam and then one of the new combos, pear and fig. Both went down extremely well. Even daddy complimented on how scrumptious the pear and fig was.

The kitchen is now full of the heady scent of spice. I had chickpeas soaking overnight, destination ‘Channa’ my famed chickpea curry, that I will serve to out grown up guests this afternoon. Though the little ones plus the neighbours children are destined to enjoy hotdogs, wedges and ice cream. I just remembered, I’m making chapatti, so better make the dough in a minute. Right this is how I make channa.

Caleb now sat bedside me fascinated by a little, purple, furry ‘squirmals’. I remember them as a child. A trip to Hamleys toy store in Regent street. I was absolutely in awe of them. It was the same year that the funny smelling blow up gum was around (sounds like 1890 doesn’t it). You remember, squeeze some goo from the tin tube and stick a straw into it then blow it up like a balloon. Caleb now off to join the others watching channel fives milkshake.

Back to making Channa then. I reminisce of my days living on the Jogeshwari Vikroli link road (in Bombay) or more commonly referred to as the J.V.L.R. It was the main route from the western suburbs out to Powai. I Googled ‘Channa’, looked at a few recipes, thought that’ll do, half forget half of the three recipes I had looked at and cobbled the remainder of the information back together in my head, and there we have it, Dadda’s own take on the perfect chickpea curry. This method of assimilating recipes always works for me. Whilst living in India and indeed later on in Nepal, the nannies who cared (at that time) for my children, also cared for me. By that, I mean they drenched me with the music of vintage Bollywood, worshipped Ganesh, washed my clothes and cooked one good meal for me daily. It was the times in between ‘Bharti’ and later ‘Rekha’ that I perfected my culinary love and enjoyment of Indian food. Okay, my mind is wandering, so here’s the recipe! No method necessary, you don’t even need to fry the onions, so an oil free curry it is. Mind you, you’ll have to skim the chickpea water when they reach boiling point. Remember, you have to soak them overnight (or open a couple of tins). As many or as much chick pea and onions as you like, tinned tomatoes or just tomato purée and some diced capsicum red or green peppers. The spices you can play with. An easy option in India is to just buy a Channa masala spice blend, but not necessary. Today I used fresh garlic, ginger and chilli (the holy trinity of spices), though the dried versions would be perfectly acceptable. The next two spices are also essential and they are cumin and dried coriander. Turmeric is much loved in India but can overpower in flavour and colour, so go careful with it. If you’ve used tomato purée, great as this gives a great colour combined with the turmeric. You could chuck in some Garam masala if you fancied. But I didn’t feel the need. Salt to taste, I recommend plenty as food needs to be tasted, if you are planning on enjoying if! Spice needs to ‘cook out’ it’s raw taste, so over the next hour or so, taste a teaspoon full of the liquid every now and then. After the hour crush a single chickpea between your fingers (cool it down first of course) and if it s cooked, you’ll know. Now with a potato masher – mash to your hearts content. I like mine quite puréed but with the occasional chickpea to bite on. Heaven on a plate, served with steaming rice or chapatti. I prefer the latter for a more authentic taste of the Sub Continent.

Okay enjoy…

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A Gay Dad reflecting on life in the Shires of England with my not so famous five and two rapscallion Dalmatian hounds

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