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Kentucky Fried Chickpeas

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Kentucky Fried Chickpeas

These zesty dishes have more taste and nutrition than chicken, but none of the bad karma.

by Visakha-devi dasi

1983-10-06

Next time you see one of those cheery commercials for Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried Chicken, here’s something to think about: In the United States, 98% of all table chickens are raised in highly automated, factorylike plants where the birds undergo agonizing suffering from the time they’re hatched to the time they’re slaughtered. Up to 50,000 chickens are crowded into a single shed, subjected to artificial periods of light and darkness so they’ll eat more and grow faster, “de-beaked” with a hot iron instrument to prevent feather-pecking and cannibalism brought on by extreme stress, and finally crated up and hauled off to the slaughterhouse after a truncated life of only eight or nine weeks.

By way of contrast, consider the lowly chickpea, or garbanzo bean. Some years ago, at the Hare Krsna center in Mayapur, West Bengal, each day a few other women devotees and I would go for a swim in the nearby Jalangi River. On the way we’d walk through acres of bushy chickpea plants. They grew profusely on that open land, helped by the bright sunshine, fertile soil, plentiful water, and clean air—a peaceful and invigorating atmosphere. One morning we saw some Bengali boys picking and eating the green chickpeas. So we picked some ourselves, offered them to Lord Krsna, and ate them. Delicious. Even raw. And we didn’t kill a thing.

Since then I’ve learned that chickpeas are a good source of protein and iron, as well as fiber, vitamins A and b6, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, calcium, phosphorous, sodium, and potassium. But the best thing about the chickpea is that, unlike chicken or any other animal flesh, we can offer it to Krsna. And by eating chickpeas that have been offered to Him, we don’t incur any bad karma.

Those of us familiar with the laws of karma know that people who kill animals will themselves have to be killed in a future life. That’s because, according to the law of karma, whatever we do is seen and recorded by higher authorities, who then mete out our just punishment or reward. Or, as the Bible says, “As you sow, so shall you reap.”

Every living entity, whatever body he’s in, is part and parcel of the Lord, and He doesn’t tolerate the abuse of any of His creatures at the hands of man. If we can keep healthy by eating chickpeas and other grains and vegetables, what justification could we possibly have for torturing and slaughtering chickens and other animals? This unnecessary violence goes against one of the Lord’s cardinal orders—”Thou shalt not kill”—and we must pay for our disobedience by suffering in our next life.

And in this life we pay for it by getting horrible diseases, suffering in wars, and losing our natural qualities of mercy and sensitivity toward others, both human and animal. Our intelligence becomes clouded. That’s why we can think it’s OK to treat our pet dog with tender loving care at one moment, and the next moment to make a meal out of the flesh of a slaughtered animal. In fact, because of our unfortunate habit of eating meat, we find violence and callousness to violence increasing side by side in our daily lives.

But simply becoming a vegetarian isn’t enough either, because, as Krsna says in the Bhagavad-gita, “One who cooks [vegetarian or nonvegetarian] food for his own pleasure eats only sin.” The solution is to eat only krsna-prasadam, vegetarian food offered to Lord Krsna. That’s the only food that’s completely karma-free.

In his commentary on the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada writes on this point as follows: “If one eats food without offering it to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, he is a thief and is liable to be punished. All property on the surface of the globe belongs to God, so one has the right to use goods only after offering them to Him. This is the process of accepting prasadam. Unless one eats prasadam, he is certainly a thief.”

Each of us can learn how to offer our food to Krsna, and thus avoid the karma we would incur by eating meat or unoffered vegetarian fare. It’s a simple process and a happy one.

Here are a few recipes for chickpea dishes I’m sure you and your family will enjoy. To get the full benefit of the protein in chickpeas and to make a satisfying, well-balanced meal, serve them with wheat bread, rice, or milk products like yogurt and butter. With such an offering, Lord Krsna will be pleased, you and your family will be healthy, and fewer chickens will find their way into Colonel Sanders’s hellish emporia.

(Recipes by Yamuna-devi dasi)

Savory Chickpeas in Tomato Glaze

1983-10-07(Tamater Kabli Ghana Usal)

Preparation time: 2 to 3 hours (30 to 40 minutes if you use a pressure cooker)
Soaking time: 8 hours
Servings: 5 or 6

1 ¼ cups whole dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
4 to 5 cups water (3 ½ cups if you’re using a pressure cooker)
3 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter) for frying spices
1 ½ teaspoons scraped, minced fresh ginger root
1 ½ teaspoons seeded, minced fresh hot green chilies
1 ¼ teaspoons cumin seeds
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
8 to 12 small fresh or dried curry leaves, if available
5 medium-size, firm ripe tomatoes, diced into small pieces
1 ¼ teaspoons turmeric
1 ½ teaspoons chat masala, if available (try an Indian grocery)
½ teaspoon garam masala (try an Indian grocery)
¼ cup minced fresh parsley leaves or coriander leaves
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons butter or ghee for flavoring
5 or 6 lemon or lime wedges or twists

1. Place the chickpeas in a 1-quart bowl, pour in 3 ½ cups of water, and soak overnight (about 8 hours) at room temperature.

2. Drain the soaked chickpeas in a colander, place them in a heavy 3- to 4-quart saucepan, add 4 to 5 cups water and a dab of ghee or vegetable oil, and bring to a full boil over a high flame. Reduce the flame to medium low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and gently boil for 2 to 3 hours, or until the chickpeas are butter-soft but not broken down. If you’re using a pressure cooker, combine the same ingredients in the cooker but use only 3 ½ cups of water. Cover and cook under pressure for 30 to 35 minutes.

3. Remove from the flame (reduce pressure if necessary), uncover, and stir.

4. Over a medium to medium-high flame, heat 3 ½ tablespoons of ghee or vegetable oil in a heavy 3-quart saucepan for 30 to 60 seconds. Stir in the minced ginger, seeded green chilies, cumin seeds, and black mustard seeds, and fry for about 30 to 45 seconds, or until the cumin seeds turn golden brown.

5. Drop in the curry leaves and, 1 or 2 seconds later, stir in the diced tomatoes. Add the turmeric powder, half the minced fresh herbs, chat masala, and garam masala. Stir-fry over a medium flame for 3 to 5 minutes, sprinkling in water when necessary, until the ghee or oil separates from the sauce and the texture is smooth and even.

6. Use a slotted spoon to add the chickpeas, and then transfer to the saucepan 2 to 3 tablespoons of the water in which you cooked the chickpeas. Reduce the flame to low, cover, and gently simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and, if necessary, adding small quantities of the cooking water to keep the mixture from sticking to the saucepan.

7. Remove from the flame and add the salt, 1 ½ tablespoons of butter or ghee, and the remaining fresh herbs. Before offering to Krsna, garnish each portion with a wedge or twist of lemon or lime.

Tender Chickpeas in Coconut-Yogurt Sauce

(Kabli Ghana Usal)

Preparation time (after ingredients are assembled): 15 minutes
Soaking time: 8 hours
Cooking time: 2 to 3 ¼ hours, or 30 to 40 minutes in a pressure cooker
Servings: 5 or 6

1 ¼ cups whole dried chickpeas
4 to 5 cups water (3 ½ cups if you’re using a pressure cooker)
4 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil for frying spices
1 ½ teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
8 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon white poppy seeds (if available) or chopped cashews or almonds
1 cup plain yogurt, sour cream, or cultured buttermilk
1 ½ to 3 teaspoons seeded, minced fresh hot green chilies
½ tablespoon scraped, minced fresh ginger root
1 cup lightly packed fresh or dried grated coconut
1 ½ to 2 cups ghee or oil for deep-frying
2 medium-size baking potatoes
1 ¼ teaspoons black mustard seeds
6 to 8 dried curry leaves
1 ¼ to 1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or coriander leaves
6 to 8 lemon or lime wedges or twists for garnish

1. Place the chickpeas in a 1-quart bowl, pour in 3 ½ cups of water, and soak overnight (about 8 hours) at room temperature.

2. Preheat the oven to 200°F.

3. Peel the potatoes and dice them into small cubes.

4. Drain the soaked chickpeas in a colander, place them in a heavy 3- to 4-quart saucepan, add 4 to 5 cups of water and a dab of ghee or vegetable oil, and bring to a full boil over a high flame. Reduce the flame to medium-low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and gently boil for 2 to 3 hours, or until the chickpeas are butter-soft but not broken down. If you’re using a pressure cooker, combine the same ingredients in the cooker and use 3 ½ cups of water. Cover and cook under pressure for 30 to 35 minutes.

5. Remove from the flame (reduce pressure if necessary), uncover, and stir.

6. Place the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, black peppercorns, and white poppy seeds in a heavy frying pan and dry roast for about 10 minutes over a medium-low flame. Transfer to an electric coffee mill and pulverize to a powder. In a blender, combine the yogurt, seeded minced chilies, ginger, freshly powdered spice mixture, ½ cup of the cooking water (or fresh water) and the coconut. Then cover and blend on medium-high speed for about 1 minute or until the ingredients are reduced to a smooth sauce.

7. Over a medium-high flame, heat 1 ½ to 2 cups of ghee or oil in a 10-inch karai, 12-inch wok, or 3-quart saucepan until the temperature reaches 365 °F. Carefully lower the cubed potatoes into the hot ghee or oil and fry until crispy and golden brown. Remove, drain, and set aside in the preheated oven on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Remove any containers of ghee or oil from the cooking area.

8. Over a medium to medium-high flame, heat 4 tablespoons of ghee or vegetable oil in a 3- or 4-quart saucepan for 30 to 60 seconds. Drop in the black mustard seeds and fry until they crackle and sputter (30 to 45 seconds). Stir in the curry leaves, add the chickpeas (use a slotted spoon), then pour in the coconut-yogurt sauce, salt, and turmeric. Reduce the flame to medium low and, stirring frequently, cook uncovered until the sauce diminishes to half its original quantity. Fold in the fried potato cubes.

9. Before offering to Lord Krsna, garnish each serving with the fresh minced herbs and a wedge or twist of lemon or lime.

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