Ambode (Indian Chana Falafel)

Chana dal is a form of chickpea that can be used as a substitute for the European chickpea know as garbanzo bean in just about any recipe. Chana has a lower glycemic index than garbanzo, has a more pleasant flavor, and is faster to cook. This recipe is for a Karnataka dish that looks for all the world like a spiced-up falafel.

Ingredients
2 cups chana dal
4 small green chilis
2 dried red chilis
(Optional) 1 cup grated coconut (Fresh or frozen is best. If you use dessicated, hydrate it in a mixture of coconut milk and coconut water first.)
3 tablespoons chopped green cilantro leaf (some people like dill weed instead of or in addition to cilantro.)
1 bunch curry leaves
1 inch ginger piece, grated
1 -2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon hing (asafoetida)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 shallot, chopped fine
2 tablespoons flour
1 – 2 cups canola/peanut oil for frying
Method
  1. Soak the chana dal overnight. Drain.
  2. Heat peanut oil in a deep fryer to 360 F.
  3. Combine all ingredients, except for salt, shallots and flour, and blend in a food processor. The Indian style is to grind lightly, so that many of the chana beans remain intact.
  4. Mix in salt, shallots and flour.
  5. Form ping pong ball sized balls of the mixture, flattening them slightly if you’re frying in shallow oil so they can be flipped while frying. The Indian style to flatten them all the way to a sausage patty shape.
  6. Fry as many as you can at a time without crowding the fryer.
  7. When brown on the bottom (3 minutes,) flip them so they can brown on both sides. Five minutes total frying time should bring you to golden brown.
  8. After cooking, place on a pair of paper towels to soak up the oil. There won’t be much if you oil was hot enough.
  9. Serve them warm in warm pita bread stuffed with lettuce, tomato, tahini, and Mexican salsa. Indians like to eat ambodes with chutney or ketchup. I can’t comment on that.
Ambodes will keep in the fridge for a week or more.

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