Punjabi Rendezvous with Chole Bhature

You think of Punjab, and you think of the vast green fields. You think of Punjab and you think of the effervescent townsfolk. You think of Punjab and you think of the very popular beats of Bhangra. You think of Punjab and you think of the most delicious mouthwatering cuisine. 

The most common sight in the streets of Punjab or the galiyaan are the street food vendors and the pedal rickshaws. The first time I visited this beautiful land of 5 rivers, I was absolutely astounded by the hustling markets and the way people gorged on the yummy food. Street food is easily accessible at any given time of the day and is so darn inexpensive. You can't resist even if you try your hardest because the aromas WILL captivate you!

I was just a child then and I remember seeing teenagers, youngsters and elders alike standing in front of the food stalls, eating plates of delicious authentic punjabi food. The girls are usually dressed to the T in beautiful Indian wear and the boys as usual vying for their attention! Fun times! That image has since been imprinted in my mind.

It is there only that I tasted these Chole Bhature or Spicy tangy chickpeas with fried flat bread. The uniqueness to these Chole is that they are sort of dry and very dark in colour, almost blackish. Thats what gives it that amazing taste. The roasting of the spices gives that immense depth of flavour. 

I couldn't stop myself from making these since the time I've stepped foot in the kitchen. Been making them for a long time now and they are a specialty of mine, I can very modestly boast! 

Try them and you'll be transported to the streets of Punjab, I guarantee you that! They're just a little time consuming and have a longish list of ingredients but so darn easy to make. You'll never visit a restaurant again to eat these! On to the lip smacking recipe...

Serves: 6

Time: 2 hours (most of the time you have to sit out)

Complexity: ***

You'll need

2 cups Chickpeas or Garbanzo beans or Kabuli chana soaked overnight in water
2 tea bags
3 Onions, ground into a paste
4-5 tomatoes, pureed
1"ginger, minced
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
3 green chilies, split in half lengthwise
1-2 bay leaves
2" pc of cinnamon stick
7-8 black peppercorns
4-5 cloves
3 Black cardamom or large cardamom
3 green cardamom
3 whole dry red chilies broken in half
1 tsp whole cumin
1 tsp freshly ground cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tbsp dry mango powder
1 tsp carom seeds or ajwain
1/2 tsp asafoetida 
1 tbsp pomegranate seeds (anar dana)
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp red chili powder (more if you like it spicy)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp black/rock salt or kala namak
3 tbsp oil
1 tbsp ghee/ clarified butter (for tempering)
2" ginger julienne, for tempering
Pinch of love


First and foremost, you need to pressure cook your chickpeas till the time you try to press them between your fore finger and thumb they should get squished. To boil you will need twice the water of the chickpeas. To that you will add the tea bags, black cardamoms and 1 tsp of the total dry mango powder and 1 tsp salt. 

The chickpeas will take about 20 minutes total to get to that softened stage. Reduce the flame to low after one whistle and continue to pressure cook for 10 minutes. 

While the chickpeas are getting done, roughly shop your onions into cubes and grind them to a paste in  the food processor. 

Heat a large-ish pan on medium flame. Add the oil to it. When the oil starts to shimmer a little, add cumin seeds, carom seeds, black peppercorns, cloves, asafoetida, cinnamon, bay leaf and whole red chili to it. Saute for about 30-45 secs till the cumin begins to crackle and the asafoetida sizzles. 

Now add the green chilies and pomegranate seeds to this.

To the spice mix, add the onion paste. Mix and keep the flame on medium. Saute for a minute so the water from the onions starts to come out. Now add the minced garlic and ginger. You need to now saute and roast this till the onions change colour and become almost brown. This will take around 20 minutes. Keep stirring sporadically so that the onions do not stick to the bottom of the pan and get burnt. 

See how the oil is starting to get released on the sides which is exactly what we want. The aroma will be driving you quite hungry by now, but be patient.

Now is the time when we add the tomato puree. You can use the ready canned puree or you can use canned whole tomatoes and then crush them. But I prefer making the puree at home. Fresh ingredients and no preservatives. 

Stir and combine with the sauteed onions. Now we need to saute and roast the tomatoes as well till the water in them almost evaporates just like in the picture. You can see how the oil begins to leave on the sides. It means that the tomatoes are fully cooked. 

Now add the seasoning and dry powdered spices- salt, turmeric, red chili powder, roasted cumin powder, garam masala, coriander powder and black/rock salt and mix well. 

After adding the seasoning and the powdered spices, we can add the boiled chickpeas along with the water they were boiled in. Don't forget to take out the tea bags though. 

Cover with a lid to let it simmer for 30 minutes. The water will reduce considerably and the oil should come to the top. The gravy will be quite thick and a deep red brown in colour. We are just one step away from the chole being done! 

Remove pan from the stove. Take a small pan and heat the ghee or clarified butter. Let it heat a little and then add the ginger julienne to it. 

Temper for about 30 secs and then pour it onto the chickpeas. Don't forget to stir in your love. 

The chole are done! Check for seasoning and add a little more salt if needed. If you want it even more spicy, add some red chilli powder to it. But don't they just taste absolutely divine?! Garnish with coriander and a couple of fried green chillies. 

Serve with Indian flat breads. You can chose from Bhatura, Kulcha, Paratha, Roti or even rice and Indulge!! :) 


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