Chana Dal Hummus

by Valerie on October 7, 2010 · 3 comments

Tuesday lunch 001

Lately, I have been eating a lot of hummus.  And, as those of us with food intolerances  and/or allergies and/or digestive issues and/or fatigue and/or autoimmune issues  and/or insert anything else I may have forgotten that might apply to you all know, rotating foods regularly is important.  As in really important.  As my lunchbox series shows, even with a good amount of variety, rotating foods is still difficult.  Ideally, I should  be rotating most of my foods on a 3 days on, 1 day off basis. Yet, I get stuck in ruts because certain things taste good and because it is easy.   For things like fruits and non-green vegetables, I have basically given up and rotate according to whatever is available at the farmers’ market or in season generally.  I figure at least there I stand a chance I rotate monthly that way.  Rotating greens feels like an awful logic game on the LSAT or the GRE – there’s spoilage issues, my love for kale (which means I get whimpery at skipping it for a whole week), the fact I have a bias for dark greens and forget about salad greens, timing issue in terms of when I buy them, what the market has.

So for now, I have given up on rotating greens beyond my usual approach (alternate between spinach and kale and collards as much as I can within one week), but I have had to tackle hummus and chickpeas.  You see, ever since I discovered hummus in 1991 (or maybe 1992) at a tiny Turkish restaurant suggested by a classmate who wanted to expand her friends’ palates, I have never looked back.  I could literally eat it every day and have for long stretches of time.  My classmates in college will tell you that I loved even the not-so-great hummus available in the dining halls.  Average hummus is still hummus to me.  I started making my own about 3 years ago, and have tried many different varieties, including no-tahini hummus, no-chickpea hummus with legumes like lentils, but at the end of the day, I just love a nice basic hummus with lots of lemon juice, some tahini, and little to no olive oil.

As I was looking over what I have been eating (the lunchbox series is super helpful for this because keeping a food diary is something I need a break from after the several phases of an elimination diet I did in the last 18 months), it has been a lot of no-tahini hummus, some hummus with tahini and a whole lot of chickpeas.  And quinoa. Did I mention how quinoa vies with chickpeas for my current obsession?  One weekend recently where I had to work the whole weekend and had little time to cook, I gave up on trying to rotate and just ate warm quinoa and chickpeas topped with sea salt and extra-virgin olive oil for like 3 out of 6 meals that weekend.  It totally beat pasta as a comfort food.   

My latest idea for hummus was to use chana dal instead of chickpeas.  It has a similar texture to chickpeas, and I thought would be a great substitute. Have you had chana dal? It looks a lot of yellow split peas but is actually much more closely related to the chickpea.  The taste is and texture is much closer to the chickpea, though you could substitute yellow split peas. 

{A note to my gluten-free readers: Chana dal, like all legumes, is naturally gluten-free,  but I have yet to find a brand of chana dal that explicitly states it is gluten-free (I love how Arrowhead Mills has chickpeas, azuki beans, and red lentils on its gluten-free beans list but chana dal is not part of their line-up, gluten-free or not). I used to buy chana dal at Indian grocery stores, but recently switched to the Bob’s Red Mill variety as, while it is not produced in their gluten-free facility, I figure these people know good manufacturing practices better than many in terms of cross-contamination (disclaimer: I have not yet called Bob’s Red Mill to ask more information about this item).  I will say this – whether using a brand from an Indian grocery store or Bob’s Red Mill, I have had no issues with gluten cross-contamination that I know of with chana dal, but, of course, proceed with caution based on what you know about your own reactions to gluten cross-contamination}

And so, I made hummus with chana dal, tahini, lemon juice and a smidge of salt.  And it was lovely.

Then when I saw that this month’s ingredient for the S.O.S. Kitchen Challenge sponsored by two of my favorite blogs, Affairs of Living and Diets, Desserts and Dogs, is sesame, I made it again, with a tablespoon of sesame seeds.  And it was just a tiny bit nuttier.  Whether you want to add the sesame seeds or not is up to you. Here is the recipe:

Chana Dal Hummus (gluten-free, vegan, low-glycemic, nut-free, soy-free)

  • 1 cup chana dal, soaked for at least 8  hours in 2-3 cups of water and rinsed
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (this was the juice of two large lemons)
  • 2 Tbsps tahini (I love Artisana but use any tahini you like, roasted or raw)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds plus more for garnish (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsps reserved cooking water from the chana dal (if you cook the chana dal several days ahead, just use regular water)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

chana dal hummus 001

Place chana dal and water in large heavy pot and bring to a boil, skim off any foam, and cook until tender, about an hour (I just put them in my rice cooker and sort of forgot about them, so obviously use of slow cookers or rice cookers to cook the chana dal is highly encouraged).  Drain the chana dal, reserving a couple of tablespoons if you are going to make the hummus right away.  Place chana dal, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, sesame seeds (if using) and salt (I recommend starting with 1/4 tsp and adding if you would like more)  in a food processor and process until smooth (I like mine somewhere between chunky and smooth).  Add reserved cooking water to smooth out the texture, as desired.  Adjust seasonings.  I loved this with the above amounts of lemon juice, tahini and salt, but please feel free to adjust to your taste. Serve with additional sesame seeds as garnish.

Note, if you want to substitute another legume, the 1 cup of dry chana dal cooked up to 2 1/4 cups of cooked chana dal.  Adjust substitutes accordingly.

Thank you to Affairs of Living and Diets, Desserts and Dogs for hosting another great S.O.S. Kitchen Challenge!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maggie October 8, 2010 at 12:08 am

What a great idea! I adore hummus too – any kind of dip really. It's nice to have another option. I have been trying to think of something with sesame seeds for the SOS challenge…

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2 Ricki October 8, 2010 at 1:04 am

Yep, I'm a hummus gal, too! I've had chana dal in Indian restaurants, but have never seen it in stores–though there's an Indian market nearby that I must now check out! And I agree about quinoa–pure comfort food. Thanks for your great submission to the SOS Challenge this month! :)

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3 Pure2raw twins October 8, 2010 at 3:25 am

We are big believers in rotating foods!!! This hummus sounds great, we will have to try it!

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