One of the perils of shopping at an Indian grocery store is that no matter how determined you are to stick to your shopping list, there are bound to be products that you just have to buy, even though you have no idea how to use it, but know for sure that you will need it sooner or later.
I have fallen into this trap time and again. I have a big bag of dill seeds sitting on my shelf for over a year now. I have absolutely no idea what to do with it. Or with the hellishly tart dried pomegranate seeds that made me cross-eyed for a minute. I have no clue why I was so anxious to buy what essentially is concentrated little balls of pure citric acid.
And do I really need six different kinds of coconut – frozen, powdered, shredded, grated, sweetened, unsweetened?! Talk about being a hoarder!
One area where I try to avoid experimenting is the beans and lentils section of an Indian store. Frankly, I am amazed every time I walk by it – not only are there dozens of varieties but some are sold whole, some cracked, some hulled, some split – how does one even begin to make sense around them? Thanks to my years in Calcutta shunning the kitchen like the plague I have to rely heavily on Google images to tell me which daal is supposed to look like what.
When I picked up this bag of dried yellow peas ( it was labeled vatana, which confused me even more), it looked vaguely familiar, but it was not until I googled it did I realize what I could do with it! I could make ghugni with it! Yipee!
Ghugni or yellow pea curry is a staple in Bengali households and it was delightful to be able to recreate it in my kitchen! There were lots of recipes on the Internet to get me started, but ultimately I made it the way I wanted to. The familiar flavors of the spicy and tart sauce with a hint of sweetness brought back so many memories! The texture of the yellow pea is quite similar to chickpeas, in fact, they are both cooked in pretty similar fashion. If you like chickpea curry, then you are going to like this ghugni too!
Here is the recipe -