We city-breds see food as sold in supermarkets-processed and in packets. Growing up in apartments we hardly get the chance to raise kitchen gardens. We miss out on opportunities to see many foods, especially cereals, pulses, spices and condiments in their natural, fresh form, growing on crops, plants and trees. Under such circumstances, even a familiar food in its natural form may cause a transient illusion of being a novel or exotic food to us. Such an instance happened recently, when I chanced upon a heap of teeny weeny legumes at Lulu Hypermarket. In no time I was near the counter, examining it, taking a closer look to decipher what it was. I snapped open the pod and was amused to see the beans inside – just one or two in a pod. I could not but exclaim, “Goodness gracious! Is it just this? Did not know that it came from a pod so small or looked like this when fresh!” It was like seeing a person without makeover, only the impact was different- it actually looked cute. It was just a familiar food in an unfamiliar form or shall we call it food incognito? Now, take a look at the photo and see if you can guess what it is.
Did you recognise it? Kudos to those who identified it correctly. But, I bet most of you cannot. For those still guessing, a close-up of the open pods and beans may give a clue.
Did the close-up of the open pods and beans help you? If you still cannot find out what it is, you should probably see it alongside the dried form in which it is used in our cuisine.
It is DESI CHICKPEA, also known as BENGAL GRAM (Hindi: Chana, Tamil: Kothukadalai, Telugu: Sanagalu). We often eat it as evening snack, have it as a favourite accompaniment with chapathis, buy it from road side eateries and even offer it at the altar during festive occasions – yet we cannot recognize it in its encapsulated form. That is the price (fortunately a small one) we pay for our urban life.
If you have been in a similar situation, share your experience here.
To know more about the differences between Desi Chana and Kabuli Chana, visit this page on Chana.