Life shuffles many interesting people through my lucky world and some of them have the most interesting culinary backgrounds. This fall I had the fortune to meet Uma Naidoo, a South African of Indian descent. While attending grammar school in Durban, she and her siblings brought packed lunches of tasty, home-cooked meals. Yet just like most children after a long day of learning, they were usually on the lookout for a little after school snack! Nearby the school, an elderly Indian woman made some extra money by selling snacks to the school kids on their way home.
Crunchy, spicy, and satisfying, these “Basket Aunty” chickpeas were Uma's personal favorite. She recalls that the chickpeas were sold wrapped in newspaper, which no one would do today but the children survived! This tasty and healthy snack is a fun project for children, as it lends well to culinary creativity when learning about and choosing their favorite herbs and spices. Pack them in school lunches or keep them at home for a great afterschool snack.
"Basket Aunty" Chickpeas
4 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 Tbs. coconut oil
2 tsp. turmeric powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander powder
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
salt to taste
fresh lemon juice to taste
3-4 fresh curry leaves
1 tsp. red chili powder
1 red chili pepper
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
*If using canned chickpeas, drain the liquid and then rinse under cold water in a colander.
*If using dried chickpeas, soak overnight covered in water in the refrigerator. Rinse the chickpeas, then cover with water and bring to boil then simmer until the chickpeas are tender but still hold their shape. This could take about one and a half hours.
Shake the chickpeas of excess water. Add the dry spices of your choice to the chickpeas and toss so that that they are evenly coated.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds and wait for them to pop. Toss in the curry leaves and then add the chickpeas and stir fry with about 3 minutes.
Remove from pan and cool slightly, then season with lemon juice and fresh cilantro.