Saturday, January 09, 2010

Dry Roasted Spicy Chickpea Salad -- Going local ?


I am the kind of consumer who is pro organic because my primary concern is safety in food. Though due to cost and restricted availability I do not buy everything organic.

I did not rely much on "local food" because I do not have access to good locally grown produce. The nearby Farmers market that I go to have lovely produce, very good price but produce is never ever seasonal. If I compare their produce to this Harvest Dates for Jersey, it can only mean produce there is NOT local. Neither is the produce there certified organic. I am confused.

During summer the only local vegetables that I have seen in limited quantity(as sold in Wegmans or Whole Foods) is Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Tomatoes and Corn.

So if I want to eat Local I have a choice of very few vegetables and that too only during 5-6 months of the year. Not practical.

After I expressed my own doubts about Local Food on reading Indosungod's very informative post, I read the comments and felt I needed to know more and re-evaluate my decision . I then ventured into a little more research. Disclaimer: The following is information that I have gathered over the internet and then my interpretation.

Why we should buy Local

Local is really important as a deep investment into your local economy and developing a relationship with the person who produces your food. Local food is also fresher and more richer in nutrients. Proponents of Local Food say "Local" is the new "Organic". In an ideal world food would have been "Local and Organic". There would be no other kind and no discussion.

Is Local Sustainable ?

While dreams of our future food system may rely on the romantic image of local farmers, the reality is: this model(Local or Organic or both) can't do what we need it to do, that is, feed billions of people. From TreeHugger. But really is there an alternative, organic farming method that is sustainable ?

But Is Local always Safe and Organic ?

This largely depends on where you are and also on the trust relationship you have with the grower. If I don't know the farmer or am not sure if there is a vigilant body checking the farmer's activity, I cannot be sure of his method of growing food. The CSAs or the CoOps are more trustworthy.(Read Times Article)
The trust and the local farming practice also also depends on the country where you are. We tend to think of only the Western World when discussing such stuff.

Local Farming and Environment

It is not necessarily true that Local Food has a lower carbon footprint. More than transport, methods of growing impacts "food miles". It is likely to be more environmentally friendly for tomatoes to be grown in Spain and transported to the UK than for the same tomatoes to be grown in greenhouses in the UK requiring electricity to light and heat them.(Read more)

Local Farming and Third World Countries

If people in developed nations are convinced to eat only locally grown food what happens to the farmer in the third world country whose income is from exporting his produce. Afghanistan produces some of the world’s tastiest fruits and nuts. If these do not reach the world market how does that country better its economy ?
Also take an ordinary farmer in India. The prices of locally produced food is usually higher because they are not subsidized. Because of WTO's free trade policies it will be very hard for a poor farmer in India to compete his local grown produce with imported ones. So then is local food only a privilege of people in wealthier nations ?
I don't have much knowledge on this and really would love to know more about how local farming works in developing nations

How does Local fare in a Global Flat world

Local had always been how produce was grown when I was a kid. Food was seasonal and my Mother did without tomatoes and cauliflower in summer and didn't make mango chutney in winter. We waited for the fruit and vegetable of the season and accepted nature's way. Now with world going flat food is not only non-seasonal, it has also gone global. So even if you have moved countries and shifted loyalties you can still eat your jackfruit curry for lunch and suck on an alphonso mango after dinner. How do you put a stop to that craving and go local ?

Conclusion as a Consumer

"If the average meat eater gave up meat once a week that would be the equivalent of eating all of your food local."
—James McWilliams, author of Just Food: Where Locavores Get it Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly. From The TakeAway.

Eat Organic and Local as and when you can but they truly might not be the answer to building a sustainable food system. For each of us eating local or organic may mean different thing and I think it is largely a personal choice.
I was reading a book by Bourdain and there he talked about a sushi place in New York, the most expensive restaurant where they fly in fish from Japan every single day. If patrons of this sushi place, the rich & the famous of NYC, drive a 3 hrs distance from the city to a farm to get their local produce because buying local makes them feel warm and fuzzy and "in with the crowd", I will think the idea is somewhere defeated.

References from

Wiki -- Local Food
Wiki -- Organic Food
Eating Better than Organic -- Times
Food That Travels Well - NY Times

Now back to these lovely dry roasted chickpeas spiced with Indian spices. They are great as a snack and also makes for a very healthy and satisfying meal. That they look pretty is an added bonus.


Inspired by Kalyn's Roasted Chickpeas with Moroccan Spice.

Dry Roasted Spicy Chickpea Salad

Wash canned chickpeas in several changes of water. I used a 29oz can of Goya Garbanzo

In a bowl toss garbanzo beans with
1 & 1/2 - 2 tsp Dry Mango Powder
1/2 - 1 tsp Red Chili Powder
1/2 - 1 tsp fresh Coriander powder
(grind coriander seeds in your spice grinder),
little Kitchen King Masala(optional),
1 tsp Olive Oil

Heat oven to 350F

Put the chickpeas in a single layer on a tray and bake for 30-40 mins or so.

To eat as a salad, toss together the roasted chickpeas with some peeled and chopped cucumber,chopped red onions and finely chopped green chili. Drizzle 1 tsp olive oil and combine. Add salt and pepper if needed

This made for a very filling and also satisfying packed lunch for work. Though I suggest that it tastes better when had fresh off the oven and tossed as a salad.


  1. thats a very informative and thoughtful post Sandeepa. even in India we are getting lot of foreign produce these days but in small towns and villages still people only get to eat local and seasonal. I also prefer to buy seasonal items but sometimes have to give up to the cravings.
    chana salad looks nice. the way you presented it reminded me of the song 'Haridaser Bulbulbhaja' :-)

  2. Dear Sandeepa
    Very well researched and well explained one,
    In india,( probably the branded organic ones too) 100 % veges , even sweet water fishes are the real organics ones, they contain the maximum doze of organic pesticides, eggs of parasites etc.Ha ha

    Jokes apart, in US when you buy organic, you buy real organic.
    bhalo theko

  3. Sandeepa,
    good topic and very informative.In India even now we can get cauliflowers in summers sometimes from cold storages ...and organic that doesnt fit there as to grow vegetables people do use heavy dose of pesticides/even hormonal injections , saw it one of TV reports few years back,how a normal or sick pumkin/lao would increase in size overnight I dont know if the vegetable I am getting from market is really fresh or not.But here I guess I can trust the local or organic foods ..I often try to pick organics even I have to pay some extra bucks!!
    and what about Carbon footprints? which has more ?
    hugs and smiles

  4. The chhola looks very tempting Sandeepa.

    I have a friend who came from Chicago. She said that the GM alu is huge. Tomader deshe naki regular sized ones are organic and very expensive.

    I bought some fresh strawberries in the market yesterday.They are grown in nearby Mahabaleshwar. But I feel very psyched about pesticides and wonder whether i can wash them clean.

    I used your 'phucka is a girlie treat' pov in my latest post

  5. That is a very onformative post. I totally agree knowing the farmer but when i go to the local market i am sure i don't know none of them :-)

  6. i gonna try these soon,..thnks,..

  7. You gotta wonder what the world is coming to when something like vegetables has become complicated! I love chickpeas so I'm gonna try this :)

  8. Very interesting and informative, Sandeepa. And therein lies even more incentive to grown my own veggies -- can't get much more local than one's own backyard or sunny deck for a few months a year, anyway ;)

    Chickpeas do look lovely!

  9. Hmm, the stuff that comes in out of season is not as tasty as when it's in season - I still cannot bring myself to eat watermelon in December - I have tried many such things. I will buy something exotic to taste once, if I'm sufficiently fascinated, but my experience with these things is that they are not as tasty as they are made out to be. And the ones that I do want to buy, like dragonfruit, is so wrinkled and damaged I don't feel like spending lots of money to buy a dud. We get organic stuff too, but the stores are far away, and expensive, of course, but I do try and buy dal and spices from there if I go that way.

  10. Sandeepa,
    Thanks so much for the lovely post. Never gave so much importance about these differences, as the local and organic differentiation is not so prominent here yet.
    In India its probably all local things that you get. I have seen some organic spices in the departmental stores though.

  11. Sandeepa, I have found that in my farmer's market, there is a lot of produce that is not certified organic but is pesticide free. I think certification is expensive and so many farmers who do not have that certification still tell me that their produce is pesticide free (though, ofcourse it is not verifiable)..Sometimes that seems a good option as organic can be a little too expensive on a regular basis.

    You are right- many of these choices have so many consequences that need to be considered..

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. A very good post Sandeepa. I think everyone should start asking questions about what they are eating be it organic, local or conventional. There is a place for each one of them in a healthy diet.

    From astronomical prices for organic milk and eggs to more reasonable prices today - possible due consumer demand. I think it is wrong to underestimate the power of the market place. I don't mean in the capitalist sense of the word but the market providing what the consumer demands.

  14. Great post Sandeepa, very thought-provoking. This comment by Nupur on another blog made so much sense that it's stayed with me:

    "I think being able to eat what we like, when we like, as much as we like- that is a fad! That is what is unsustainable and something that we won’t be able to continue for long."

    As long as the US keeps dumping all the extra corn, wheat and soy that is subsidized by our money, in the developing countries and their local agriculture is destroyed as a result, no amount of exports is going to help Afghanistan or any other country for that matter.


  15. I am not huge fan of organic but rely a lot of local food. After moving in CA, We do have Farmers market through out the year, products are much cheaper,fresh than the grocery shelf! U even boost ur local economy which is encouraged by the Gov! Good post!

  16. nice thoughts about how we eat and what we eat!! this subject can be debated the whole day......:):):)

    the roasted chickpeas tossed in onions and green chilies and spices looks fantastic!! the way you've presented it (wrapped up in a paper) reminds me of a snack named "sundal" that they sell along the sea shores in Pondy :):)

  17. Great post Sandeepa. I love organic Chickpeas I get here. they are smaller and very tasty, Regular ones are so big and causes lot of gas plus odd taste too. Organic food and veggies are expensive, like you I buy them sometimes or some products, not all. They do taste better though, look better too.

    Yummy garma garam chor garam chole, slurp! :)

    We drove Trisha back to college,came home late at night. I feel little depressed today. Even though she just plays video games in the other room when she is at home, I just feel happier and somehow complete. But I have to learn to let go, I know!

    I will try and get 3 Idiots movie online somewhere, no chance I can watch in the movie theater here at all.

  18. What a well written informative post!- love chickpeas in any form and that snack looks healthy and easy-bookmarked.

  19. thats a informative post !!! Back in Indian, being from belgaum, we used to always get the freshest vegetables sold by farmers in the evening..the produce which would have been picked couple of hours early..and miss being on the east coast in is tough to survive with those very few local grown vegetables..atleast us who need two diff kinds of vegetables everyday !!

  20. Sayantani

    Honestly I do not buy seasonal, it is so cold here that I don't even know what is in season and out


    That is what I thought when I said, how much can you trust. Here the USDA certified is 100%organic.

    I don't know if organic has a more or less carbon footprint than regular, I guess it will be same. But organic farming is not harming the land or water


    I really don't know if all conventional food is GM. Need to ask and learn more I guess.
    Organic is expensive but now they are more affordable than from 2 years back. Also organic is not found everywhere
    To wash soak in salt water and then eat. I learned this from a fellow blogger and do so now





    That is so true

  21. Linda

    You are right. But sadly for me the veggies I grow are very few and don't really satisfy my needs. Maybe we should all have a farm :)

    I have never bought organic spices, you mean organic coriander and organic cinnamon ?

    That is right.


    You are very correct, that cert is expensive. But my farmers market is not really like the California farmers market or the amish farmers market. No farmers there and the counters are manned by chinese or spanish who understand little english.
    I need to have a real farmers market nearby

  22. Indo

    That is very true. Even my price club has started carrying a lot of organic now


    Thanks for the comment. That really makes a lot of sense.
    I am still not sure though. I don't know too much but I hope my choices as a consumer don't contribute towards putting a farmer out of business somewhere or make regular commodity more expensive for everyone


    You are lucky.




    You are so right


    Never bought organic chickpeas. I got organic rajma the other day. Didn't see any diff in taste just made me feel happier and anyway it was only for the kids that I got them

  23. Ranjani

    Thank You


    Same here. I really don't see much local veggies here though fruits are in plenty

  24. I love this recipe and all the detailing you have done.

    I make these quick and easy to make snacks myself and they can really be mouthwatering with a little innovation.

    Being a Bong myself, I always feel a little sprinkle of "bhaja moshla" works wonders on them.

  25. Love love this recipe!!! Just right for a snack.....

    The post (along with Indo's) is very very informative...its the fruits which are mostly non local and unseasonal here - the vegetables are mostly local and local.

  26. Roasted chickpeas are a treat on their own! Very nice research Sandeepa. In Chennai I have just started venturing into the organic producs even though there ae lots of stores already in place.

  27. Fascinating post. You may also find the link below interesting, where you can download recipes from The Complete Indian Housekeeper and Cook.

  28. very well said..
    your post is very informative..
    Thanks for sharing and the salad looks yummy..:)

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  30. hmmmm food for thought!...salad looks like something i could use now..

  31. I guess we need to strike a balance with our needs. I buy organic, local and conventional.. Comparing NJ to Texas we get way more local & seasonal stuffs in local markets. Organic is a lot more affordable now. But I don't think I can still afford to do a 100% switch to organic.

    Newspaper wrapped chaat always brings in pleasant memories:-)

  32. Hi, thank you so much for this information. I learned a lot, I just found your blog while searching for an interesting article about healthy food. I can say that your post is really helpful. I'm full of relevant info. =) By the way, you might love to visit Happy Tiffin there are many cool and amazing eco-friendly stuffs that you might like. Thank you

  33. I never had a good farmer's market near my place in NJ. There was a small stall on Rt 202 that had very limited variety of veggies. Back here at my parents' place, I am so thrilled about getting fresh veggies at at the doorstep every morning. There are many vendors selling freshly plucked veggies from their carts, taking "going local" to a whole new level. They are not organic though. I found organic produce in stores here but I'm not sure how true that is.

  34. I guess we all should start a garden and do veggie exchanges then we'll be healthy and safe and happy. Since we all are aware of this, why not?

    Very informative post, chick peas and the presentation look lovely.

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