Channa Masala in drinkable form, this Chickpea Quinoa Soup is fragrant, flavorful and rich, not to mention completely VEGAN!
The Vegan world is absolutely crazy about Tofu – whenever you think of a substitute for meat, from restaurant menus to home kitchens, tofu seems to be the most obvious choice. But I grew up in India – we love our dairy there, and even those who didn’t, had a host of lentils, beans and grains to compensate with, of which chickpeas ruled as sovereign. So, between Paneer tikka masala and Chole battura, Tofu lost the crown.
There are very few ways in which I can truly enjoy the famed soy bean curd, this Sweet chilli Tofu being my favorite. But other than this and a handful more, I steer clear of it. The primary reason being that the texture still revolts in my mouth, and the second, which in retrospect should be most important reason, is the higher levels of phytoestrogens it contains. Phytoestrogen is a compound that certain plants naturally produce, which closely mimics human estrogen. Consumed in large portions, it causes testosterone imbalance in men and an estrogen increase in women, leading to reproductive problems for both genders.
In Asia, where tofu was founded, it is largely eaten as a condiment or in fermented form, which diminishes it’s harmful properties. It’s great that food has crossed borders and become such a global phenomenon, but before we blindly adapt or borrow culinary traditions, I think it best to look deeply into the reasons why certain foods are paired with each other. More often that not, there’d be a profound medicinal reason why, that has just been lost in translation over the years.
The same applies to chickpeas – they get such bad rap for causing flatulence, as do most other legumes and beans. But do you know that when cooking chickpeas, we Indians usually add a bit of asafoetida – a plant based gum resin that is in fact famed for it’s anti-flatulent properties. In fact, we add a pinch of asafoetida whenever we cook any beans, lentils or legumes. It is also the reason why a lot of cumin or garlic are used in Indian cooking, for their digestive properties. And while we’re talking about lentils and legumes, here’s why you should soak your beans and lentils before cooking them. Properly cooked, and when I say properly, I am talking about a recipe whose ingredients balance each other and enhance nutrition, food is never detrimental to our health. So, for everyone who hated the complexity of Indian food, for the billion spices in every meal, now you know why!
Which is what got me to create this Chickpea Quinoa Soup – it’s like Channa Masala that you can drink! Soothing, comforting, with a heady aroma from the cocktail of spices, this is a well-balanced meal, thanks to the quinoa. One of the most protein-rich foods on the planet, quinoa also happens to be extremely nutritious, with fiber, magnesium, iron and more!
You can pair this fabulous Chickpea Quinoa Soup with with a bit of bread, but I never seem to need it. Between the chickpeas and the quinoa, this soup is quite delicious on it’s own. And the Chole masala (or Channa masala) adds to the flavor. If you don’t know what that is, you can find it in the spice aisle at Indian grocery stores. Or here’s a recipe to make your own Channa Masala! If you can see the list of ingredients, you’ll see that each of the spices contributes to taste as well as nutrition.
And if you’ve happened to eat good channa masala in your life, you’ll know how delicious this soup would be. Top with fresh cilantro or even better some chopped shallots or even spring onion – the fresh crunch truly adds to the flavor of this soup! This recipe makes enough to serve as lunch or dinner for two, or as a starter/appetizer for four. Toast some bread on the side, even better, toast them in garlic infused oil and this Chickpea Quinoa Soup would be a meal you would soon not forget.