Crispy, crunchy and savoury air fried chickpeas (channa) is a tasty, budget-friendly and healthier version of the deep fried snack.
Fried channa (chickpeas) is one of my favourite childhood snacks. My mother used to make a big batch for parties and family get togethers, but since it's readily available pre-made and packaged I didn't attempt to make it until recently. Why? It seemed like such a process - soaking the dried chickpeas, prepping them then deep frying.
I initially tried making an oven roasted version but they didn't turn out as crunchy as I like, so I turned to the air fryer.
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I tried this recipe with both canned chickpeas and dried, and my preference is to use dried. It takes a bit more prep but the end result, in my opinion, is crunchier.
- Dried Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
- Neutral Oil. You want an oil that is good for high heat cooking and won't impart any flavour to the fried channa. I used canola oil but avocado, peanut, refined coconut or grapeseed oils would also work.
- Spice blend of choice. The fried channa that I grew up eating was savoury and made with green seasoning, garlic and chili peppers.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make Fried Channa in an Air Fryer
- Soak the chickpeas overnight
Make sure the chickpeas are completely covered and have about an extra inch of water to allow them to fully rehydrate. Once hydrated the chickpeas will plump up and become a bit lighter in colour.
- Drain and rinse
The next day when you are ready to make the fried channa, drain the chickpeas and give them a quick rinse.
- Boil the chickpeas
Add fresh water to a pot on high heat and add the chickpeas. Bring to a boil then cover, turn off the heat and let them cool in the pot. Once cooled the garbanzo beans will be cooked but still firm. If they are too mushy they don't get as crunchy when air fried.
- Drain and dry
Once cooled, drain the chickpeas and pat dry in a tea towel.
- Break up the chickpeas (optional)
You can fry the chickpeas whole or you can break them up. I like to have some of them split so there is a variety of sizes. I leave the skins on for that added crunch, but you could remove those as well.
To split the chickpeas, cover in the tea towel and roll over the chickpeas with a rolling pin a few times. Be careful not to roll too hard so you don't crush them.
- Pre-heat the air fryer
Pre-heat the air fryer to 385 degrees on the air fry setting.
- Add oil
Add the prepared chickpeas to a bowl with the oil. Mix to coat well.
- Add to air fryer basket
Once the air fryer is heated, all the chickpeas to the air fryer basket.
- Shake the chickpeas
Halfway through cooking, or when your air fryer indicates to check food, give them chickpeas a shake. This is a good time to check them for doneness. The chickpeas may cook quicker depending on the size.
- Add spice blend
When the chickpeas are cooked and crispy, transfer to a bowl and add the spice blend and salt. Mix well to coat.
- To store
Store in an airtight jar or container to retain the crunchiness.
Is Fried Channa (chickpeas) a healthy snack?
The air fryer version of fried channa is healthier than the deep fried as it uses less oil, and contains more nutrients than many other crunchy salty snacks.
In Trinidad (and probably other places in the Caribbean), fried channa is often served as a bar snack. The salty and crunchy goes so well with a cocktail!
- Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are a legume.
- Chickpeas contain fibre, some protein and other nutrients including magnesium, calcium and iron.
- Garbanzo beans are naturally gluten-free.
- This snack tends to be more filling than other snack foods.
- The spice blend that you use on your air fried channa may change the nutritional value.
Fried Channa Flavour Variations
Once you learn the technique for making crunchy chickpeas in the air fryer you can switch up the spice blend to make a different flavour each time.
- Spicy - Use chili pepper powder or flakes to make a spicy version.
- Sweet - Use cinnamon sugar, maple sugar, or any other powdered sweetener to make a sweet version.
- Simple - Keep it simple and just add salt for a simple, kid-friendly snack.
The only special equipment you need for this fried channa recipe is an air fryer. I tested this with the air fryer function in my toaster oven and a stand-along air fryer. They took a bit longer to cook in the toaster oven and didn't get quite as crunchy.
If you don't eat the entire batch in one sitting, be sure to store any leftovers in an air-tight jar or container to retain the crunchiness.
I've seen homemade and pre-packaged fried channa stored in recycled liquor bottles, perhaps a nod to it being a snack served with drinks.
Crunchy Air Fryer Channa (Chickpeas)
- 1 Air Fryer
- 1 Small Sieve
- 1 Mixing bowl
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 4 cups water (2 cups for soaking and 2 cups for boiling)
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tsp spice blend
- ½ tsp salt
- Add dried chickpeas to a bowl and cover with 2 cups of water. Let sit overnight.
- After 24 hours of soaking, drain the chickpeas and give them a rinse.
- Add 2 cups of water to a pot on high heat and add the chickpeas. Bring to a boil then cover, turn off the heat and let cool.
- Once cooled, drain the chickpeas.
- Pour the chickpeas onto a tea towel and pat dry.
To break up the chickpeas (optional)
- Wrap the chickpeas in the tea towel.
- With a rolling pin, roll over the covered chickpeas a few times with firm but gentle pressure. Do this as many times as needed to break up most of the chickpeas.
- Preheat the air fryer to 385 degrees on the air fry setting.
- Add chickpeas to a bowl with oil and stir to coat.
- When the air fryer is ready, add the chickpeas the basket of the air fryer and shake to level out.
- When the air fryer indicates 'check food' pull the basket out and give the chickpeas a shake. Return to the air fryer for the remainder of time.
- Once cooked, transfer chickpeas to a heatproof bowl with spice blend and salt. Toss to coat in the spice mixture.
- The air fried channa (chickpeas) can be stored in an air-tight container for up to a week.