Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chana Dal, What The Hell Are You?

I was at Costco the other day, witnessing Christmas shopping but not really partaking. I took a stroll through the food section and stumbled upon something new to me. Chana Dal. It looked just like a bag of split peas but had an exotic Indian name and came in a 4lb bag that was only $2.99. I was intrigued.
Even more intriguing were the nutritional values printed on the underside of the bag. For a 100g serving, this stuff packed a whopping 370 calories. These would obviously be good calories as the only ingredient was the Chana Dal with no additives whatsoever. Also included in the meagre 100g serving was 23 grams of protein, 30% of your daily intake of iron and 40% of your daily intake of dietary fibre. Word on the street is that it has the lowest glycemic index reading of any measured food at somewhere between 5 and 10, depending on the source.
It seems all you have to do to survive is have 100g of this stuff at every meal along with a garden salad and you'd be all set. Man, that would save on the grocery bill.
It turns out that Chana Dal is very closely related to the regular old Chick Pea or Garbanzo. Indeed, it is quite similar but on the smaller side. I've checked several grocery stores since purchasing my bag but have yet to see any on the shelves.
The next question is: how do you cook the stuff? Quite easy. Simply soak 1 cup of the dried Chana Dal in water for about 3 hours. Rinse and then transfer to a pot of water and bring to a boil. Once a boil is reached, simmer covered for 30 minutes and your Chana Dal is ready to go.
At this point, rinse again and add whatever spices you'd like and mix in. Of course, Curry Powder, Cumin, Garlic and Turmeric are natural choices if you want to stay with the Indian theme.
A great resource on Chana Gal can be found online at David Mendosa's site. David takes a special interest in Chana Gal because of its low glycemic numbers and its benefit to diabetics.

Other notes:

I'm planning a trip to Cleveland at the end of January and went to the folks at Vegan In Cleveland for some advise on where to eat. Needless to say, they were very helpful. Their site is full of information on Vegan eateries in the Cleveland area, so if you are planning to visit the city for any reason, check them out.

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