Holay, Winter Special Green Chickpeas And How To Eat Them
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Winter in India brings with it a host of seasonal produce to enjoy. Be it the bright red winter carrots, bitter mustard greens or even fresh peas, there’s a wealth of flavours to explore that are at their peak at the end of the year. One of the less talked about vegetables that’s a beloved winter treat in many parts of the country is fresh green chickpeas. Known as Holay, Olay, Chholia, Hara Chana or Fota (Phota) depending on where you’re trying it, this ingredient is an unsung hero of India’s winter feasts.

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It’s mostly prevalent in the northern parts of the country and is also popular in Pakistan. The chickpeas are carefully harvested from the branches, and their outer covering is delicately removed, unveiling the tender young chana. These youthful forms of garbanzo beans, or mature chickpeas, can be relished even in their raw state. Essentially, they represent the early, fresh stage of the chickpeas that we commonly enjoy throughout the rest of the year. They’re primarily roasted and enjoyed as a type of street food but can be enjoyed in a few different ways.

Green Chickpea Chaat 

A levelled-up version of your regular street food chaat, this dish pairs green chickpeas which are softer and sweeter than their mature counterparts with boiled potato, onions, green mango, radish, cucumber, spices and sev for a tangy and tasty snack that lets the vegetable shine.

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Green Chickpea Hummus

Hummus is one of the go-to dishes for most people when it comes to chickpeas and green chickpeas can be made into their own unique version of the dip too. Simply boil them and blend them with tahini, garlic and a touch of lemon for a fresh dip that is great for snacking or even as a sandwich spread.

Roasted Holay

The classic way to eat these winter favourites and a dish many remember eating as children. Simply blanch the green chickpeas and the grilled over hot coals. But if you’re making them at home, you can also cooked them under a grill or even in an air fried till they have a slight char on them.

Hare Chana Tikki

Looking for a nutritious twist on your favourite burger? This may be the way to go. Make a smooth paste from the boiled chana, ginger, garlic and whatever spices you have on hand. Shape them into patties and fry in oil or in an air fryer till golden brown. These cutlets are crafted from dried green chickpeas and offer a guilt-free and nutritious option that doesn't compromise on flavour.

Olya Harbharyachi Saar

A typically Maharashtrian take on the ingredient, this saar (or soup) is a winter favourite in many villages since it’s warming and nutritious. The green chana is paired with millets, usually bajra which is also native to Maharashtra and flavoured with coriander seeds and a selection of spice pastes called vatan. Paired with some rice, it’s a homely classic

Though these green chickpeas are seasonal, in many places the love for them is yearlong and people anticipate the coming of these winter delights to relive their childhood favourites.