When I travel my memories come in the form of images I make through photography, events and occurrences, and my most favorite way, food. There is nothing better than the memory of a dish that lit up your palate or showed you what was possible with an ingredient you thought you knew well.
My travels through Sri Lanka were no different than the rest and I was left with many memories attached to food (and to be quite honest, quite a few to drink to! haha). The boney hard to eat fish that features vividly in my personal remembrance of the weirdest New Year’s ever (read that story here; #3 on the list!) is not something I will easily forget. Nor will I forget the taste of the tiny bananas found on the island, their taste was very distinctive and less sugary sweet than the mass market ones we can easily find in the US. Memories of tea, mangos, curries and more all remain heavy on my mind.
As time has elapsed and I am heavy in reminiscing about a trip or memory I like to attempt to make a dish that reminds me of those trips gone by. Sometimes it is a complex dish, sometimes it is something simple as a cup of tea. While recently reminiscing about Sri Lanka a memory of spiced chickpeas eaten while wandering around Galle Fort came back to me and needed to be immediately recreated.
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When it comes to making a dish that reminds me of a place is my own version of it, adjusting techniques, ingredients, and flavors to suit my kitchen, pantry, and taste. I would never have the gall to call anything I make authentic, those recipes I leave to the natives of those countries and other experts. I like to have fun in the kitchen an use a global pantry to make dishes regardless of where the inspiration comes and this recipe is no different.
This particular recipe is salty, tangy, and savory. It tastes more extravagant than the ingredients which make it up and that is the beauty of it. Including prep it takes just about 30 minutes and then you will be in savory snack-y heaven. I find this mix incredibly addictive and would be a great addition to top a salad or grain bowl as well!
Sri Lankan Inspired Spiced Chickpea Snack
This recipe is inspired by the one in Rice and Curry [ebook | paperback], my own eating in Sri Lanka, and my personal tastes. This means I adjusted the recipe to be less spicy to suit my palate (I really like spice but can only handle so much!!) and made it a bit more zingy with the addition of lime (I love a good tang).
I also swapped the curry leaves out for Bay Leaves since for most those are a lot harder to find, I live in CA and can easily find fresh Curry Leaves but that is a luxury many don’t have.
- 1 1/2 Cups Cooked Chickpeas 1 - 15oz Can or 3/4 Cup Dried
- 1 Tbsp Neutral Oil I used Grapeseed but canola or similar works too
- 1 Small Yellow Onion Diced into 1/4" (7mm) pieces
- 3 Cloves Garlic Finely Minced
- 1 Jalapeno Pepper Finely Diced
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 tsp Mustard Seeds I used yellow
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 Lime Zest & Juice
- 1/4 tsp Fine Sea Salt
- Medium Heavy Bottom Pan I used Cast Iron
If using canned chickpeas rinse and drain
If using dry cook them in your preferred method. I suggest following these instructions from Serious Eats for stove top. If using an Instapot or similar device follow the instructions that come with your unit.
In a medium sized skillet heat up oil over medium high heat, once hot (check by dropping a drop of water in the oil, if it sizzles its ready!) add onions, garlic, jalapeno, and bay leaf. Mix to make sure all the ingredients get a bit of oil on them Fry until the onions are golden brown, about 3 minutes, making sure to mix every 30 seconds or so to keep the onions from burning and sticking.
Once onions are brown add mustard seeds and fry until they start to pop, this will take about 1 minute
Add in chickpeas, lime zest, turmeric, salt and lime juice. Mix throughly and fry like you would a stir fry (ie shake the pan regularly to keep everything mixing and keeping from burning) on high for about 5 minutes until the chickpeas start to turn slightly brown and crispy.
Remove the bay leaves, add more salt to your taste and serve warm right off the stove or let cool and serve at room temperature.
*Adjust the spice tolerance to your liking by adding more or less jalapeno. If you have a lower spice tolerance remember to remove the veins and seeds of the pepper as this is where most of the heat is contained
*This mix while delicious on its own it would also be a great addition to top a grain bowl or a salad!
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