Chickpeas (Bengal / Desi type)
[Bengal Chickpeas, Kala Chana, Chana Dal, Bengal Gram (India); Shimbra (Ethiopia)]
One of the most important crops in India, these chickpeas are closer to the wild chickpeas of southeastern Turkey than are the familiar Mediterranean (Kabuli) type. Desi is the preferred type in hotter regions. Shown in the photo are red and green varieties along with Chana Dal (split and peeled chana) and Besam or Gram Flour (chickpea flour ground from the dal). Dal is used more than the whole peas because it cooks much faster, important in a fuel poor country. The red peas in the photo were around 1/4 inch in diameter and weighed about 155 to an ounce, the green slightly smaller.
Dalia: [Pappulu, Bhuna Chana] This is roasted, peeled and split Bengal Gram. It looks just like the unroasted Dal, but is soft and easily ground. "Dalia" is the Gujarati name for this dal, and the name by which it is sold in North America. This causes a lot of confusion, because in the rest of India Dalia means broken grain, particularly wheat.
More on Beans Peas & Lentils.
Buying: All these forms can be found in markets serving an Indian community. If your local market has only the red or only the green in whole peas, not a problem, they taste the same.
Storing: The whole chickpeas can be stored in a sealed container away from light for about a year. The dal is also durable and will last about a year. Over-aged beans and dal will not cook soft.
Besam, the flour ground from the dal, is, like whole wheat flour, very prone to going rancid. It should be kept in a tightly sealed container and replaced every few months.
Prep: A cup (6-1/2 ounces) of dried chickpeas should be soaked for about 8 hours in 3 cups of water with 2 t salt per cup of beans (see Soaking / Brining Beans). One cup will yield a little over 2-1/2 cups (14 ounces) of drained beans. 1 pound of dry beans will yield 2 pounds soaked.
Cooking: Soaked chick peas should be simmered for about 3/4 hour to cook. Unsoaked dried beans will take up to 2-1/2 hours of simmering.