Channa Soup


Dad was in the hospital with an injured hip and leg up in a 90 degree traction and had lost any appetite he had. From the neighbouring bed in the army hospital in delhi, a cheery Punjabi mother taking care of her soldier son called out to me “Do you know the secret of the horse’s gallop”. “Its long legs” I hesitantly ventured not sure where this was going!

“No, what does a horse eat?” was her next question. Carrots I tried again this time sure I was right.. “No, channa is what they eat” she said.. “Give your dad channa soup & watch his leg become better & he’s sure to get up from bed & spring into action very soon”.. And so I ended up making this soup for Dad and he did get strong soon. This is a perfect cold weather soup. If you’re wondering what my helpful Samaritan was referring to, dear reader, horse feed has a good portion of chickpea and that’s why this smaller chickpea is also called horse gram. Try this tasty gluten free cold weather soup, and I promise you’ll be hooked.

1 cup desi channa (smaller darker chickpeas)
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
Salt to taste 
Spice Mix
1 hot green pepper, sliced(optional)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 tsp dry mango powder
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 grains cumin seeds
2 tbsp coconut oil
Pinch hing
Serves 4

Pots n pans
Wok or fry pan 

• Wash chickpeas thoroughly in running water twice. In clean water soak chickpeas with water double the capacity to allow the chickpeas to swell overnight.
• Next morning, wash and rinse the chickpeas again, and once again fill pan with water double the capacity. SOS I don’t throw away the old water – I reserve it to water my plants for a good dose of healthy nutrients.
• Pressure cook the chickpeas till soft. Let cool before opening the cooker.
• Meanwhile, chop onions, garlic, ginger and tomato. Set aside. SOS I have a confession to make. I used canned tomatoes and it works just as well. If you also want to save on tomato time, once you open the can, transfer the unused tomatoes to a ice cube tray so its really easy to use cubes next time..
• In fry pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds. Immediately add onions, garlic, ginger and hot green pepper if using. Add salt and stir every now and then till the onion, garlic, ginger mix is cooked.
• Add turmeric powder, cayenne powder, mango powder and hing and then chopped tomatoes.
• When tomatoes are soft and oil separates from the mix, add the cooked chickpeas and the nutrient rich water in which it cooked and let everything come to a boil.
• Remove from stove. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and serve with chapati bread or crackers.

Health benefits
Chickpeas come in 2 major varieties
1. Desi – has small darker seeds and a rough coat. Mainly grown in the Indian subcontinent, Ethiopia, Mexico & Iran. The one I used for this recipe is the Desi variety. Desi means ‘country’ or ‘local’ in Hindi is also known as Bengal gram or kala chana.
2. Kabuli – has larger lighter coloured seeds and a smooth coat. Mainly grown in Southern Europe, North Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Chile. Kabuli means ‘coming from Kabul’ in Hindi, since they were thought to have come from Afghanistan when first seen in India) or safed chana is the kind widely grown throughout the Mediterranean. This is something you’ve probably tried at some time in recipes.

Desi are high in protein. One of the earliest cultivated legumes, 7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East. Desi chickpeas have a markedly higher fiber content than Kabulis and hence a very low glycemic index which may make them suitable for people with blood sugar problems. Now I know why my hospital friend suggested this for Dad’s diabetic condition.


I’m not sure that you’ll gallop like a horse after eating this soup. But I’m sure you’ll feel a sense of being well fed and nourished and that in turn will give you energy to do your work, I think, don’t you?

— soul of spice —


17 Comments Add yours

    1. soulofspice says:

      Thanks for that great link Latha. The more I research foods the more I realize how many healthful recipes come from childhood..;)

  1. Very enlightening post. Can I ask: What is hing? Excuse my ignorance.

    1. Jeanette says:

      Hing is asafetida. There’s a brand called Cobra that comes in a yellow plastic container in Indian supermarkets. It’s very good:-)

    2. soulofspice says:

      HIng or asafoetida as Jeanette explained, . is great for removing gassiness from lentils or vegetables like cabbage. It rounds off all the food flavours.nicely.Read all about it in my latest post..

  2. Jeanette says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe. One of my favorite winter treats when I lived in in Delhi:-)

    1. soulofspice says:

      You’re welcome Jeanette. Didn’t know you spent time in my hometown.. We’ll have to swap notes!! Yes it’s the simplest of recipes that remind me of Delhi winters too!!

  3. Marcella Rousseau says:

    This soup sounds delicious and I’m glad to hear that your dad is on the mend. A good daughter’s soup was just what the doctor ordered ; – )

    1. soulofspice says:

      I think you’ d enjoy it very much Marcella. Dad did recover that time but passed Away a few years ago from failing health. You’re so right though, preparing food for him, taking it to the hospital, feeding him was one of my best experiences when our roles were reversed & he became the child 🙂

  4. That’s soul food to me – sounds like such a great comfort food recipe. I can’t wait for your next post involving asafetida (I hope I spelled that correctly!). My next mission is to hunt for mango powder.

    Sorry to hear your dad has passed on, Charu.

    1. soulofspice says:

      it is Nat! thanks for your thoughts on Dad, he’s missed a lot..
      I just say Hing since the other is quite a mouthful 🙂 I’m sure you’ll succeed in getting dry mango powder in K.L.. it’ll add a lot of magic to your foods..

  5. shalinibg says:

    its a favorite during winter! thanks for a lovely reminder!

    1. soulofspice says:

      Thanks so much shalini for stopping by & taking the time to comment. I’d live to hear about any other winter favorites you have…

  6. moderngirlnutrition says:

    Sounds delicious!:)

    1. soulofspice says:

      Sure is. Hope you get to try it out.. I think you’ll love it’s simplicity & lovely taste..

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