Bengali Ghughni is a simple Indian curry made using dried white peas, served by itself or as an accompaniment. It is also a popular street food in various parts of India.
Ghughni – such a musical name for a dish, right? This one dish has versions from three different Indian states – West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar, all the same dried peas curry, but with regional variations in ingredients.
I had the chance to taste Ghughni for the first time when a neighbour sent me a bowlful, saying this is a very popular dish from Orissa. You can either serve it as an accompaniment to snacks or by itself with a few toppings as a ‘chaat’.
From what I understand, the Odiya version uses more spices like cinnamon and cardamom and the Bengali version is much simpler. I have adapted this recipe from the book – The Calcutta Cook Book, which has recipes for 2 different versions. Both these recipes use chickpeas / kabuli` chana. Bihari Ghughni uses black chickpeas and the base of this curry is a paste made of soaked chickpeas and onions, along with a variety of spices.
You’ll also love — This quick and simple dried green peas masala / curry
This recipe for Bengali Ghughni is a simple one. Except for the dried white peas, you can find most of the ingredients in your pantry.
More recently, Ghughni was served as a part of the breakfast buffet in the hotel we stayed at in Darjeeling. Topped with dollops of fresh yogurt and roasted cumin powder, it looked totally inviting. I had a couple of cups of ghughni, just by itself and it made for a filling breakfast.
After consulting the Calcutta Cook Book and a couple of food blogs, I tried both the stove top boiling method and the pressure cooker method. The pressure cooker method does loosen up the skins which float on top, but then boiling it all together to prepare the curry makes the skins blend in. I would not recommend the stove top boiling method at all. The peas don’t get evenly cooked and the texture is just not acceptable.
How to serve Ghughni
- Serve it during tea time as a chaat, topped with onions, tomatoes, tamarind chutney, coriander and lemon.
- Serve it with rotis, puris or parathas as a curry
- Leftovers can be served with toasted pav or bread for breakfast
- Another interesting way to serve ghughni would be to layer it in a cast iron pan or oven safe pan, make pockets and break eggs into them and bake for 7-8 minutes until the eggs are just set, something like a ‘ghughni shakshouka’
Equipment needed to prepare Bengali Ghughni:
Mixer, to prepare the spice paste
Please note: This recipe needs overnight soaking of the dried white peas before they can be cooked.
Bengali Ghughni - Easy Dried White Peas Curry
- 1 cup dried white peas
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1/2 inch piece ginger
- 1 small onion 30 grams
- 1 tbsp mustard oil or sunflower oil
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp salt
- For garnish:
- roasted cumin powder
- red chilli powder
- whisked yogurt
- coriander leaves
To make ghughni chaat:
- finely chopped onion
- finely chopped tomato
- chopped coriander leaves
- tamarind chutney
- ginger juliennes
- sliced green chillies
- Soak the dried white peas (called safed vatana in Marathi, safed matar in Hindi) overnight in a big bowl of water.
- Drain and place in a 3 litre + pressure cooker with 4 cups water and 1/2 tsp salt.
- After 1 whistle, keep on sim for 5 minutes. switch off when done.
- I have also tried cooking it on the stove top, but it takes way too long and the peas are unevenly cooked. Pressure cooking disintegrates some of the peas giving the ghughni a good texture. On pressure cooking, some of the skins will come off, but it does not do the dish any harm, in terms of texture, appearance or taste, so it is nothing to worry about.
- While the peas are cooking, prepare the spice paste for the ghughni. In a small mixer, blend the onion, ginger and garlic with 2-3 spoons of water to make a smooth paste.
- In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the mustard oil. Scrape out the paste into the hot oil, stirring constantly for 5-6 minutes.
- Into this, add the chilli powder, turmeric powder and remaining 1/2 tsp salt and stir for another 3-4 minutes.
- Tip the cooked peas into this spice mixture, thinning down with 1/4 cup water if required. Allow this to simmer for 5 minutes on a low flame.
- Remove into a serving bowl.
- Garnish with spoons of whisked yogurt topped with a sprinkle of roasted cumin powder, red chilli powder and coriander leaves.
- To make a ghughi chaat, take two ladles of ghughni in small bowl. Top with finely chopped onion, tomato, coriander, ginger juliennes, green chillies and a drizzle of sweet tamarind chutney over the top. Serve warm.