Recipe – Himachali Chana Madra


A few friends have been asking me for the recipes of the dishes I had been cooking during the lockdown. I am wondering if a separate food blog is needed to catalog all the recipes but till I decided that I will use this space to share them. Excuse me for the photos. I hadn’t thought of blog post while clicking. Will add more later. 

I have been thinking of the hills and our road trips, my trekking years and the local food eaten in homes or local eateries of Himachal and Uttarakhand.

Light and aromatic yogurt based gravies are summer’s soul food. Desi khana or traditional meal made with locally sourced ingredients is something I root for even though I love to explore other cuisines. Summer is also season for nostalgic eating.

I first had madra at the home of a local in kangra during a road trip. A family from the village had a small tea stall and provided meals if possible. Though not as part of the menu. It all depended on what’s available and we were lucky to get madra, kale chane ka khatta and rice.

The slow cooked scrumptious Chana Madra is not just quintessential part of authentic Himachali Dham but also of the wedding menu. The whole and ground spices, creamy tangy curd and the buttery chickpeas fill the dish with melange of flavours. Madra is made with Rajma too. The Chamba rajmah tastes delicious in madra but I love the Kangra version with chickpeas.

Today’s thali had one dish each from a few parts of india to which I belong in some way. Aamras from Maharashtra (Mother’s side), old vintage nimbu pickle from Uttarpradesh ( father’s side), madra from Himachal ( In-law’s side) and kelya upkari from Konkan ( nani’s maternal side). Comfort and love in every bite. I’m thinking of making a few more dishes that are close to my heart in the coming days.

Ingredients :

Kabuli Chana / Chickpeas ( Soaked overnight and boiled) – 2 Cup ( can use canned chickpeas too)

Asafoetida – 2 pinch

Cloves – 3-4

Cinnamon – 1/2 inch stick

Black Cardamom – 2-3

Green Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp

Sugar – 1/4 tsp

Black Peppercorn – 3-4

Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp

Coriander Powder – 2 tsp

Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp

Salt – as required

Raisins – 3 tsp ( soaked and drained)

Thick whipped curd – 2 cups

Ghee/ clarified butter or Mustard Oil – 2 tbs

For the Rice Paste –

¼ cup raw white rice

1 cup water

1-2 pods of green cardamom

Soak  ¼ cup rice in 1 cup of water and cardamom. Grind this mixture and set aside.

Method –

In a heavy bottom pan heat mustard oil to the smoking point and then reduce the heat. ( For ghee you just need to warm it)

Add asafoetida, black cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick

Stir and add cumin seeds. When they crackle add coriander and turmeric powder and stir. Make sure the masala doesn’t burn.

Add boiled chickpeas and stir properly.

Add the whisked yogurt and keep stirring continuously. Keep the lame low or the yogurt will curdle. Add salt and green cardamom powder.

Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minute. Stir occasionally.

Once the mixture comes to a boil add he rice paste water and mix well.

Continue to stir and cook for another 20-25 minutes.

I usually add a tablespoon or two of hot homemade ghee on top, stir and let it simmer for another ten minutes thicken the gravy.

Turn off the heat, add chopped fresh coriander greens and mix.

Serve with plain boiled / steamed rice or roti.

Whole Wheat Penne Pasta In Charred Red Bell Pepper, Tomatoes And Roasted garlic Sauce


I am very fond of pasta in any form especially the wheat one. For this recipe I have used the Colavita Whole wheat pasta.

It’s now six days to my laser surgery and almost four and a half to the RD surgery. My eyes are healing beautifully and to assist their healing I wanted to do something therapeutic, something with colours, spices, veggies and herbs. This recipe seemed perfect for the occasion. A lovely dinner for three. Mom, Kid 1 and me. Main course complimented by chickpeas Mediterranean salad and rounded off with scoops of vanilla ice cream with fresh mangoes and homemade fresh cherry sauce. I will be putting up the recipes for the other two dishes as well.

The cook is given an off and I am in my kitchen saturated with the various colors and aromas. It is a place I love to be doing what I love most. I made the sauce with those awesome looking juicy red bell peppers, plum tomatoes , garlic and red onion. Perfect combination for a summer meal. Of all the bell peppers Yellow is my favorite in summer but the nicely charred red one tastes delicious with this pasta.

Ingredients :

2 Red bell Peppers – Charred , skinned and chopped

One medium size red onion – finally chopped

Tomatoes – 400 4m charred, skinned and puréed

Garlic – 4 cloves (roasted)

Fresh coriander leaves –  finely chopped 4 table-spoon

Salt and crushed Pepper – to taste

Parmesan cheese – for garnish (freshly grated)

Penne whole wheat pasta – 2 cups boiled and drained (spiral, fusilli, spaghetti, macaroni , farfalle or any other pasta of your choice will also do.)

Extra virgin olive oil – 2 table-spoon

To make this full flavor pasta dish :

1. Char the bell peppers till black ( wash the bell pepper, dry and apply oil all over it before putting in on grill or flame. char them from all sides properly), skin and chop them very fine . You can slightly turn them in mixer too. Just enough to make a pulp. (to skin place the charred pepper in a paper bag for 5-10 min and let them sweat. it becomes easier to peel them)

2. Roast the garlic and squeeze the pulp out from paper. mash and keep aside

3. Boil the wheat pasta till al dente in salted water to which a little oil has been added, drain and keep aside. Pasta should feel firm, not crunchy. It should break easily in half. (You can follow the instructions on the packet too)

4. Place a saucepan on medium heat and add  Olive oil. once warm add the roasted garlic and onion. Saute them till onion becomes translucent.

5. Add the tomatoes a charred bell pepper and stir so that all the ingredients mix properly.

6. Cook the sauce for a while on low heat till it becomes thick in consistency . I don’t like pasta floating in a soup like sauce. Add herbs and spices, salt and freshly crushed pepper.

7. Fold in the cooked pasta into the sauce till each penne is coated with the sauce.

8. Turn off the heat and cover for a minute or two.

9. Take out in a serving dish and garnish with freshly chopped coriander, basil ( your choice) and freshly grated parmesan cheese. I don’t like my pasta cheesy so I  go lighter on cheese. It kind of mars the other flavors imo:)

10. Serve hot.

The mild smoky sweet taste of roasted bell pepper, the tangy sourness from tomatoes and the flavor from herbs will really this a hit with everyone.Roasted garlic is one of my weaknesses so I tend to add it to many of my pasta preparations.

I served it with the chickpeas salad and made another version by tossing in the salad into the pasta. The crunchy yellow and red bell peppers, raw onion and tomatoes along with soft chickpeas enhanced the taste of the dish.

You can make any number of variations with this pasta by adding grilled sausages, chicken, meatballs etc.

This is the most satisfying comfort food I have ever had.

Enjoy!