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Mar 14, 2014 10:12 AM

Making Hummus with Kala Channa

A few days ago, I bought a bag of chickpeas from an Indian grocery store. While I did not buy it specifically for this purpose, it occurs to me that a good way to use of the peas would be to make them into hummus.
Here's my issue/ question. The peas in the bag are desi type, not Kabuli type. That is, they are the smaller, harder thicker skinned chickpeas of Bengal, not the large thin skinned chickpea of the middle east and Europe. They're kala channa (actually they are the green when mature type of chickpea, but since those appear to be closer to desis than kabulis; I'm assuming that those are the kinds of cooking methods I want.
So my question is as follows; if I cook these chickpeas for hummu, do I have to take the skins off? I know that skinning "nomal" (kabuli) chickpeas for hummus is not techically neccecary, though some people think doing so makes the hummus smoother. But that is a very thin skin. My concern is that, since this kind's skin is so much thicker, if it isn't skinned, the hummus will be VERY coarse, so course as to be inedible (if indeed the skins don't gum up the processor and break it) Ditto trying to grind them dry to make chickpea flour for making falafel.
So I am looking for info. If you cook them as is, will the skins get soft enough to not have to worry about. And if you DO have to skin them before using them, is there a comparitively easy way? Once soaked, will the beans simply be able to be squeezed out of the skins. I don't think I have the time to try and pick the skin off peas one at a time while they are dry, or the muscle power to smash them all in a mortal and pestle, even if I had one (ditto any sort of automatic pulse splittler; I'm not planning to make things like this often enough to invest big money in another piece of kitchen tech.) So any tips?

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  1. I'd try it and if the skins prove too tough, run it through a good mill.

    1. You don't have to take the skins off to make hummus with kala channa. Just soak 12 hours and boil 1 to 1.5 hours with a little baking soda and salt in the water. You want them to get really soft.

      A lot of the skins will float off in the boiling and you can fish them out if you want, but the skin will break down in the blender, so you don't have to.

      The taste will be a little more intensely chickpea-ish with the skins, and the texture will be a tiny bit more coarse and dry, but neither of these things should be a huge issue. I'd just use more tahini and thin the hummus as needed with the cooking liquid.

      1. I posted my response, then re-read your post and realized you are talking about hara channa, not kala channa.

        Hara channa are the same as the brown desi chickpea, they are just dried in the shade, not the sun, to preserve some of the green color. (I think all chickpeas are some shade of green when harvested.)

        Hara channa tend to stay crumbly and dry even when cooked a long time, and they'll never get as creamy as brown or even black chickpeas can, so they're usually used in saucy curries or very dry preparations like chaat. I don't think hummus is the best application for them, but you can give it a try.

        I'd soak overnight, completely discard the soaking liquid, and pressure cook with salt, baking soda, ample water, and maybe some onion for 20 to 25 minutes on high, letting the pressure come down naturally. If you don't have a pressure cooker, cooking time for the desired tenderness will probably be something like 2 or 2.5 hours. A lot of the hulls will come off either way, and it's probably a good idea to fish some of them out if you want a smooth hummus. Hara channa hulls tend to be leathery.

        Good luck.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ninrn

          Well, I have 2 pounds, so I think I have enough to try a couple of ways. I'll try a little as hummus, and if I don't like that, I can try some some other way.
          Incidentally, thank you for explaining the difference beween hara and kala. That does clear up at least 2 things 1. why these looks so similar to the kala in shape and size while being SO different in color (though given how green they are inside, I suspect mine were also picked slightly less mature than brown chickpeas are.) and 2. Why those few times when I have grown brown chickpeas myself in my garden, the seeds seemed to stay somewhat green no matter HOW long I left them on the plant (must have dried them in the dark).

        2. I usually buy chickpeas from the Indian section of local markets....haven't noticed any difference from North American brands for hummus.

          I do, however, follow a recipe from an Israeli friend that uses baking soda in the cooking water (after soaking all night) and I use an immersion blender to purée. Texture is fine enough for me....the soda definitely softens the chickpeas.