School was a hop skip and jump away from Boat Basin, an iconic strip of food joints that had some of the best food Karachi has to offer. Most people will sit in their cars and order food from the servers who will come up to the window. You could get a burger from Chips, a slush from Mr. Burger, Chicken Tikkas from Tandoori Hut, Caramel Crunch Ice Cream from Rajoos and a Cold Coffee from Baloch all without moving an inch. Just thinking about it is making me happy and hungry.
My favorite Boat Basin memories are the early morning ones – the times where close friends and soon to be friends would show up long before the city was awake to sit on damp plastic chairs, huddling in to ourselves as we held our cups of chai tight and anxiously awaited our halwa puri breakfast. Now we call it halwa puri, but most of the times it was a ‘hold the halwa, bring me puris and aloo chholay” breakfast. I have blogged about this breakfast before and didn’t anticipate doing so again. But then I made a variation of this awesome recipe and I decided that with it’s extra everything it was just too good to keep to myself.
Aaloo Chholay/Chana or Potato and Chickpea Curry
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup potatoes cut into 1/2 cm thick pieces
1 onion diced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp nigella seeds (kalonji)
4 black peppers
1 inch ginger, grated, or 2 tsp ginger paste
4 cloves garlic crushed, or 1 tsp garlic paste
1 tbsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tbsp red chilli powder
1 1/2 – 2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tomatoes finely diced
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
as many green chillies as you can eat – I used 4-5 thinly sliced
lemon wedges for serving
Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a large saucepan or wok, add cumin seeds, cloves, peppers, and kalonji. Fry till sizzly (I am creative with words).
Add onions and fry till golden, follow with ginger and garlic, stir for a minute or two then add the rest of your dry spices i.e. coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder, and salt. Saute for two minutes then throw in the chopped tomatoes, cook till ‘bhunn’ i.e masalas form a cohesive paste and oil rises above them.
Now add your chickpeas, potatoes, and baking soda. Stir well, then add one cup of hot water and cover your pan. Bring the mixture to a boil then let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are done.
Mash the potatoes and chickpeas slightly with the back of a large spoon to create a thicker gravy. Taste for salt – you may need to add more. Then top with cilantro, chillies, and serve with lemon wedges, achar and hot puris. Yum.