We grew up eating Amla Chickpeas stuffed into pita drizzled with a fragrant raita (seasoned yogurt). My mother would make up the sandwiches and leave them in the fridge so we could just grab and go. The idea behind the dish is that the white chickpeas are darkened with the Indian gooseberry, or Amla, so they take on a beautiful darkish color and are infused with vitamin C. The tarka is then added after cooking. In a way, it's a reverse tarka. Because the onion, tomato, ginger, and garlic are not cooked down into a paste like a typical tarka, they stay slightly crunchy. The first time I made this for my husband and his family, they went nuts. They loved it. Top it with some of our Tamarind Chutney and you'll have an instant Chaat or street food or side salad option. You'll find this recipe on page 88 in my first book, The Indian Slow Cooker. Now, I've perfected it for the Instant Pot. Remember, this book project is about getting the most out of your pressure cooker, so I have cooked the most amount of product possible in each pressure cooker size. Typically, in the 3-quart you'll only be able to fit 2 cups of product, but because we are only cooking chickpeas, I was able to cook 3 cups comfortably. If you don't want that much, just cut back by a cup and reduce the remaining ingredients by a third as well.
Desi Corner: I was a little spoiled, growing up with a massi who would ship us packets of dried Amla from our kothi in India on a regular basis. If you can't find Amla at your Indian grocer, no worries, just use 2 black tea bags. Just take off the staple and the tag at the end of the string. Keep the string and the staple connecting it with your bag so it does not open when cooking.
Pressure Cooker Size: 3 quart or larger
Warm Up: 16 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Cool Down: 15 minutes plus manual release time
TOTAL: 1 hour 1 minute plus manual release time
Makes: 9 cups
3 cups kabuli chana (dried white chickpeas), picked over and washed
10 – 15 pieces dried whole amla (Indian gooseberry) or 2 black tea bags (tag removed – leave the string on)
3 cups water
1 small yellow or red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium tomato, sliced lengthwise
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, cut into thin 1-inch strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 – 4 Thai or serrano chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chana masala
2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt, divided
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
¼ cup vegetable oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, for garnish
1. Soak the chickpeas in boiled, hot water for at least 1 hour. Drain and discard water. Set aside.
2. Place the inner cooking pot in your Instant Pot. Add the chickpeas, amla or teabags, and water.
3. Lock the lid into place and make sure the pressure release valveis set to the sealing position (upwards). Press the PRESSURE COOK button until the panel indicates MORE and adjust the time to pressure cook on HIGH for 30 minutes.
4. Once the cooking is complete, release the pressure naturally for 15 minutes. Then, manually release the remaining pressure.
5. Carefully open the lid. If using tea bags, remove them. If using amla, leave it in – it’s healthy to eat.
6. With the back of a spoon, create a well in the middle of the chickpeas. Add the onion, tomato, ginger, garlic, fresh chiles, chana masala, red chile, 1 tablespoon salt, turmeric, and cumin in that order.
7. On the stovetop, warm the oil in a shallow pan over medium-high heat until it’s so hot that steam starts to come off the top. (Be careful not to burn the oil.) The oil must be very hot, or it won’t cook the fresh vegetables or the spices in the dish. Working slowly and carefully (because the hot oil can splatter, especially once it hits the uncooked cumin), pour the oil onto the fresh ingredients in small circles so that everything is covered.
8. Add the lemon juice, cilantro, and 1 teaspoon salt and stir well until all the spices and ingredients are mixed evenly. Serve with Indian bread like roti or naan or serve stuffed in a pita.
Here is a look at what I call 'reverse tarka'. Take a second to subscribe to my YouTube Channel for more instructional videos on Indian Home Cooking.