“Fry Channa” a common savory snack eaten in Trinbago is chickpeas fried to a golden brown and flavored with crushed garlic, hot scotch bonnet peppers, culantro or bandania and chadon beni as it’s locally called, salt and black pepper. We had no cause to buy snacks back then. Ma made this crunchy, inexpensive snack for us all the time. In the large iron pot used till this day to cook most of the food we eat, and in batches, she fried whole chickpeas – made soft by its overnight soak in cold water, till they turned a crisp medium maple color. Once cooked she laid them on a large square baking pan covered with neatly torn brown paper bags, allowing the oil to drain. After a liberal amount of seasoning, they got to chill out on that same tray to cool before being poured into sanitized glass rum and ketchup bottles.
Last night, knowing damn well I’ve been struggling with a salt craving at night. With a need to snack on something crunchy as I binge watch earlier seasons of Game of Thrones (I know I’m late but I got on the train), I soaked two cups of chickpeas in cold water to make ‘fry channa’ and decided on baking instead of frying them. Chickpeas are great for weight loss and I didn’t want to lessen its nutrients by frying. And well, I rather not have my apartment kitchen smell like a deep fryer for days.
With baking, the chickpeas need to be at least half-way cooked through, trust me, I speak from experience. Biting down on a too hard ‘fry channa’ is not the nicest feeling.
After the peas soaked in water over night, for 10 minutes and in 1 cup of warm water, 2 tsp of salt, 2 springs of thyme and a bay leaf, I placed the 2 cups of soaked chickpeas in a pot to be pressure cooked. After draining, I placed the hot peas on a baking sheet and added 1 Tbsp. of melted coconut oil to coat and help the spice blend stick to the peas better.
From one of my favorites, Chef Kenny Gilbert I used the Raging Cajun from his collection of spice blends. I also sprinkle this on popped corn too. Oh yeah, the night-time cravings are real. No real measurement used, simply tossed the peas in the ground spices till I saw a nice, decent coating of the reddish-brown spice blend all over the peas.
Into a pre-heated oven on 375 for 45 minutes allow the peas to bake. I shake the pan every 15 minutes to get as even as color as I can get. Allow to cool completely before devouring.
– These days I’ve been using coconut oil to cook everything and though no study shows it to be healthier than olive oil, I’m in love with the scent and no greasy feel on foods after cooking.
– You can make your own Cajun spice blend by mixing paprika, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, dried thyme, salt and black pepper.
– After baking, the peas might be a bit soft inside, no worries, once it cools and is stored in a tight lid bottle it will have a crunch; I stored the baked ‘fry channa’ in a mason jar.
– Oh, I added more salt and black pepper to the blend before generously dusting the peas before baking.