SHERYL AFONSO e D’SOUZA
(CLINICAL NUTRITIONIST (NORBERT’S FITNESS STUDIO) & ASST. PROFESSOR (POST-GRADUATE DEGREE STUDIES, CARMEL COLLEGE)
The ‘channa’ sold at church fairs in Goa is, in food parlance, referred to as ‘chickpeas’ or garbanzo beans or Bengal gram. It is one of the most popular legumes consumed across nearly every continent, and is second only to soybean in production and consumption in the world. A member of the pea family, chickpeas is an excellent source of plant-based protein and fibre, iron, zinc, phosphorus, folate, B vitamins and more. The nutritional benefits of chickpeas includes its ability to balance blood sugar, improve satiety, alkalize the body, improve digestive health, and provide a much-needed balance of vitamins and minerals.
Whole chickpeas are commonly used to make hummus and Indian dishes, while the flour obtained from it – besan or gram flour – is a common base for Indian relishes such as bhajjiyas, pakodas, batata wadas, and besan chillas. Channa helps in bulking stools, thus preventing constipation. It also contains an appreciable amount of iron that can help increase haemoglobin levels, thereby keeping anaemia at bay. A common snack, roasted channa with groundnuts is a nutritious filler that delivers low-fat satiety. The magnesium in channa improves the functional capacity of the heart, while the slow-release complex carbohydrate in it prevents “spikes and dips” in energy, thus providing sustained fuel. The fibre in channa aids in heart health, helps control blood sugar levels, and guards against cancer, heart disease, diverticulosis, kidney stones, PMS, obesity and more. Chickpeas are a good source of three nutrients that help to reduce common symptoms associated with PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) – magnesium, manganese and vitamin B6.
So the next time you are at a fair, do not hesitate to pick up a ‘cone-full’ of channa. Throw in a few unsalted roasted groundnuts, and you’ve got yourself a dry snack that can be made a little more fulfilling by adding chopped onions, tomatoes, and green chillies and drizzling some lime and spice over it.