Thursday, December 9, 2010

Punjabi Chhole

In terms of cooking, this has been a quest like no other. The quest, an obsession even, for the perfect chhole recipe. Over the years, I have tried numerous recipes for making chhole. It was the first recipe I would look up in cook books and blogs. Some worked, some didn't. Then I came across this recipe and I thought that my quest had come to an end.

Until I tasted my friend M's chhole. The best that I had ever had.

And while I do have a couple of 'friends' who blatantly proclaim that recipes are not for sharing, I am fortunate to have many more like M who don't just share the recipes but also the specific brands they use and the small tips that make all the difference to the ultimate taste.

Take a look, looks absolutely lip-smacking doesn't it?


1. Masala paste

Green cardamoms: 6
Black cardamom: 1
Cloves: 4
Cinnamon: 1" stick
Black pepper: 10
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Coriander seeds: 2 tsps
Garlic: 10 cloves
Ginger: 1.5" piece
Green chilli: 1

Lightly toast all the above except ginger, garlic and green chillies for 2 mins on a very low flame. The objective here is to not roast but simply warm the dry spices. Then grind all the ingedients to a smooth paste, using some water as required. This masala paste can be kept in the refrigerator for about 10 days.

2. Bouquet garni:

black cardamoms: 2
green cardamoms: 4
cinnamon: 1" stick
cloves: 8 nos
tea bag: 1, optional (I don't use one as I don't like my chhole to be black, I much prefer the vibrant orange)

Put all of the above into a small square cheesecloth or a net and secure with a kitchen twine.

Making the chhole:

Onions: 2, finely chopped
Bay leaf: 1
Tomato paste: 2.5 tbsps OR Tomato puree: 5 tbsps (brand - Leggo's or Heinz)
Masala paste: 2 tbsps
Chickpeas/garbanzo beans: 3/4 cup
Salt to taste
Chicken curry powder (MDH brand) OR Chhole masala (Everest brand): 1 tsp

for garnishing:

cumin seeds: 2 tsps, roasted and powdered
onion: 1 small, finely chopped
corainder leaves: 2 tbsps, chopped


Soak the chickpeas in plenty of water overnight or for about 8-10 hours. Drain and wash thoroughly.

Add 1.5 cups of water, slip in the bouquet garni and pressure cook for atleast 5-6 whistles. If you don't use a pressure cooker (really?), you could also cook them in a slow cooker or boil them in a thick bottomed vessel till soft.

Heat oil in a wok and add in the bay leaf. Let it sizzle for half a minute and then toss in the chopped onions alongwith a pinch of salt; fry till the onions turn limp.

Now add 2 tbsps of the masala paste and fry till the raw smell disappears, about 5 minutes. If the masala paste starts to stick to the pan, sprinkle a few drops of water.

Next put in the tomato paste, salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Stir fry till the oil separates from the mixture.

Then add in the cooked chickpeas (discard the bouquet garni) and the chicken curry masala and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and let the chickpeas simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally and adjusting the amount of water as per your preference. It might seem way too long but trust me on this - the longer you cook chhole, better the taste. In fact, I transfer everything into my crockpot and let it simmer away for about 3 hours.

Just before serving, stir in the roasted cumin seed powder and garnish with some finely chopped onions and coriander leaves.

Puris, bhaturas, rotis or rice....enjoy them with just about anything!

Sharing this with Priya who is hosting MLLA # 30, event started by Susan.


  1. The chhole look spicy & delicious, Aqua. I do use these ready to use masalas to pep up the dish.

  2. I always complain that homemade chole never taste like its restaurant counter part. but trust me this looks delicious and am gonna try this soon. thanks to M and to you for sharing this.

  3. Looks lovely Aqua. I was of the former category (snobby no-sharing recipe monster) before I started blogging, and realized that i actually wasn't that great of a cook compared to others =(.
    This recipe does look very different from all the ones floating around the 'net , chicken curry masala? Intrigued! and bookmarked!

  4. Wowwwww.. I love this recipe.. looks really good and delicious.. thanks for sharing :)

  5. I love punjabi chole but have never mastered the recipe. I will try yours.

  6. I find it very inconvenient to ask for a recipe as most of them don't share it. Your friend M is really sweet. And the Chole looks finger-licking good

  7. looks good,yummy n amazing....deli--------------cious

  8. Iam under the same quest....insearch of a perfect recipe...Will try out this version..looks yummy

  9. This is my fav...bookmarked! looks very tempting

  10. Haha.. I find it hard to think how one can encrypt one's recipe! When people ask me how I made something and I tell them honestly, I see sometimes that their faces fall flat.. oh.. so you just did that. That was a box cake. Pasta sauce from a bottle. That "dust" is readymade garlic powder. "We are disappointed" is the gist. So sometimes I actually am in the opposite camp where I am desperately considering giving out recipe descriptions that sound far more complicated than they really are.

    Btw, thanks for sharing this chole recipe. I too am on the quest for the ever elusive perfect chole! :)

  11. Looks wonderful!..thanks to your friend for sharing..

  12. Hi,
    I made this..It is too good..thanks for the awesome recipe..i made this w/o the chole masala..thanks again



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