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Food Incognito

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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.

Cute teeny weeny legumes

Do you recognise this?

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.

Close-up of the open legumes and the beans

Did the close-up of the open pods and beans, help you?

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.

Chickpea legumes, immature green chickpeas and mature dried chickpeas

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.


6 responses »

  1. Thanks Ma’am. But here in Andhra Pradesh this is sold in winters as “Hari Boot”. We here see this . In Hyderabad, “Boot ki Tahari” is made out of this. Even now as i write this its available in the vegetable markets. The whole plant or shrub as we call it is put for sale. a bunch costs Rs.20-40/-. People who really like this buy the bunch as bunch contains a few pods i.e 15-20.
    I could recognize it in the first slide. Children mostly relish this during winters.

    • That’s very useful info Anusha. Thanks for sharing. I also read that these green chickpeas and sometimes the leaves are incorporated in salads.

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment always…it transforms the post from a mere showpiece to a topic that’s worth discussing.

      • Thanks ma’m. This actually keeps our brain cells ticking and craving for more knowledge and sharing. We all live in different parts of the world and this would actually help us know better about other worlds and their eating habits.
        I work for an MNC and people contact me for change in diet when they are traveling to other countries. I feel this is an opportunity to know. as our field of work requires us to be updated with as much details as possible.

      • Yes Anusha. Blogs are good platforms to share views of people from different corners of the world. Good to know that it is informative.

  2. wowwwwwwwww mam thatss ausum i had noo clue I have to admitt 🙂 thats a super info 😀

    • Thanks Afroze. Two other friends, Sicy and Sabnam had responded in FB. Sicy recognised it on seeing the beans in the second photo; Sabnam was familiar with the legume as she had seen them on the fields in Meghalaya.


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