About This Recipe
In Ayurveda, kashaya or astringency is considered to be derived from the elements of earth and space; slightly acidic, astringent foods are believed to have drying, cooling properties that help maintain tissue firmness. Kashaya is linked to a feeling of lightness and mental clarity; the taste is considered a mood enhancer that can balance serotonin levels, but too much is said to lead to dehydration and digestive issues.
Day-to-day, we rarely set out to cook a dish that plays up its ingredients’ chalky, mouth-drying properties. But many foods, particularly legumes, can have a strong kashaya rasa. This recipe plays with the astringency of raw plantains and chickpeas, tempering them with other tastes. While I don’t think of astringency as inherently appetizing, it is a great way to balance out the sweetness or saltiness of a dish.
Tamarind is rich in iron, magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins. It contains polyphenols that help regulate cholesterol levels and protect the heart. Plantain or raw banana has a high amount of resistant starch and provides prebiotic fiber. It also has potassium, manganese, and vitamin B6. Black chickpea is a particularly protein-rich legume, with additional B vitamins, manganese, and phosphorus. The combination of ingredients may help maintain immunity, bone health, and digestive efficiency.
Tools & equipment: Food processor, blender with a small jar, or mortar and pestle
Note: Ayurvedic cooking techniques focus on slow-cooking foods while exposing them to air and sunlight. As such, pressure-cooking is not accepted in traditional Ayurveda — and believed to contribute to poor metabolism. However, there are ways to reduce the gassy effects of lentils and beans (by reducing their phytic acid content) even when pressure-cooking. Make sure to always soak your legumes overnight. This softens them through gentle fermentation, while reducing the phytic acid. To then pressure-cook the kala chana, boil them with ½ tsp salt, with the lid of the pressure cooker open. After about 5 minutes of boiing, remove the froth that forms on the top. Then close the lid and pressure cook your legumes on medium low heat, for 4 whistles. This process reduces the phytic acid level by over 50 percent, making legumes easier to digest.
- 1 cup (60 g) grated coconut
- 2 Tbsp (30 g) tamarind paste
- 4 dried Kashmiri red chiles
- 2 Tbsp cold-pressed mustard oil
- 2 sprigs curry leaves
- 2 tsp black mustard seeds
- ¼ tsp hing (asafetida)
- 2 (400 g) raw banana (plantain), sliced thick
- 2 cups cooked kala chana (black chickpeas), plus water from cooking
- Himalayan pink salt
Step 1In a blender or using a mortar and pestle, grind the coconut, tamarind and red chiles. Use as little water as possible to make a smooth masala paste.
Step 2Heat the oil over medium heat and add the curry leaves and mustard seeds. Once they the seeds start to pop, add the hing, then the raw banana. Stir and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the banana turns brown.
Step 3Add the masala paste and sautee for 2 to 3 minutes, until the raw tamarind smell mellows.
Step 4Add the pre-cooked chickpeas, stir-fry for 2 mins. Add ½ cup of the reserved water from cooking the chickpeas. Cook for 10 minutes on medium high heat, until the flavors are well infused. Taste and add up to 1 tsp salt, as need. Serve hot in a bowl.
Substitutions: Use frozen unsweetened coconut if fresh grated isn’t available. Use any cold-pressed, neutral cooking oil if mustard oil is not available. If you do not have tamarind paste, rehydrate 10 g tamarind in 40 ml water and use for this recipe. Use sea salt or other mineral salt.