If you are an Indian, Punjabi Chole (पंजाबी छोले) needs no introduction. The fantastic duo that is Chole-Bhature is popular and much-loved throughout the length and breadth of the country. I mean, have you ever seen anyone say no upon being offered a plate of piping hot chole and fluffy, hot bhaturas? We folks dig right in! So for the unacquainted, let me tell you what a chole recipe comprise of. It’s a vegetarian Indian curry made with chickpeas/garbanzo beans or kabuli chana (काबुलीचना)as they are known in Hindi. The recipe uses a special spice blend that’s known as chole masala(छोले मसाला). Interestingly, some people use the term ‘chole masala’ for both the spice blend and the curry. Chole are had with bhature(भटूरे), which is leavened, fried bread. Some yogurt, onion and lemon on the side are like icing on the cake.
I remember having the best chole in Delhi when I was a teenager. A humble place it was, with a few tables and no chairs. You share a table with strangers; stand around the table in harmony, looking forward to enjoy every morsel of the divinely delicious food.Throughout the years that followed, I have tried countless chole recipes at home trying to replicate the one I had had in Delhi. I figured, it wasn’t possible to create a good chole recipe with the store-bought chole masala/spice blend. After all, that spice blend is the essence of the dish and it needs to be special; robust but not overpowering, fragrant yet subtle in taste. So after several rounds of trial and error in my kitchen, the recipe of ultimate chole masala became a reality. It’s a blend I would cherish for life. I am so not going back to the store-bought chole masala.
Slow-Cooked Punjabi Chole Recipe
Slow cooking is my favorite method, mainly because the food tastes great. The flavors develop so much better and the texture of curries is so amazing, something that cannot be achieved using the conventional method of cooking. Besides, it doesn’t need you to stand in front of the stove and stir or toss the food constantly. You are free to run errands as the food continues to cook on its own.
I have cooked this Punjabi chole recipe in a regular saucepot for about 2 hours.The chole become incredibly soft and melt-in-mouth. The onions and tomatoes vanish in the curry, giving it a uniform and rich texture. If you have a crock pot or a slow cooker, that is great. Try making this chole recipe in a crock pot or slow cooker; you would be blown out of your mind. However, I still do recommend pressure-cooking the chole because otherwise they would take exceptionally long to be done. Just choose good quality chole and you won’t need to add the god forbidden baking soda. It practically ruins the flavor of the curry. If you are in India, you should try requesting your grocer to get gavthi(गावठी) variety of chole for you. They are unhybridized, and hence more delicious and lighter on tummy. That’s what I do. Also, here are the links to the recipes of chole masala and bhature.
How to Make Punjabi Chole Recipe
- Chickpea – 1 cup
- Onion – 1 medium, sliced
- Tomato - 1 medium, finely chopped
- Ginger – 1 inch piece, finely crushed
- Garlic – 10 cloves, finely crushed
- Green chilies – 3, partially slit
- Chole masala – 3 tbsp or to taste
- Salt – to taste
- Oil or ghee – 3tbsp, divided
- Cumin seeds – ¾ tsp
- Asafetida – ¼ tsp
- Red chili (byadgi) powder – ½ tsp (See notes)
- Cilantro – 2 tbsp
- Kasoori methi/Dried fenugreek leaves – ½ tbsp., lightly roasted and crushed
- Pressure-cook the chickpeas with salt and 3 cups of water or as needed depending on your pressure cooker. The chickpeas would almost triple in volume. Reserve the stock.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil or ghee in a sauce pot and add the onions. Sauté the onions till they start to change color.
- Next, add the boiled chickpeas along with the stock. Top it with 2 cups of water.
- Add the tomatoes, green chilies, crushed ginger and garlic.Also, add the homemade chole masala.
- Once the curry comes to a boil, reduce the heat and cover the pot. Let it simmer for 30 minutes till the tomatoes soften.
- After about 30 minutes, take the lid off and let it simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours uncovered. In the meanwhile, knead the bhatura dough so that it can rest in a warm place for a couple of hours.
- After 2 hours, the curry has reduced to a thick consistency. It looks rich and smooth. The onions and tomatoes have practically vanished. Check the salt.
- To prepare the tempering, heat the remaining 1 tbsp ghee or oil in a tadka pan or a skillet. Add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Add the asafetida and turn the heat off.
- Add the red chili powder, being carefully not to burn it.
- Immediately pour the tempering over the chole.
- Add the kasoori methi and cilantro/coriander leaves. Give it a final mix.
- Chole masala is ready. Serve with hot puffed up bhaturas. Enjoy!
Punjabi Chole Recipe with Step by Step Pictures Below
To prepare the ingredients for Punjabi chole recipe, pressure-cook 1 cup chickpeas with some salt and 3 cups of water or as needed depending on your pressure cooker. The chickpeas would almost triple in volume. Reserve the stock. Slice the onion, chop the tomato, slit the chilies, and crush the ginger and garlic. Lay out the spices too.
Heat 2 tbsp oil or ghee in a saucepot and add a medium-sized sliced onion. Sauté the onions till they start to change color.
Next, add the boiled chickpeas along with the stock. Top it with 2 cups of water.
Add a medium-sized chopped tomato, 3 slit green chilies, finely crushed 1-inch ginger, and finely crushed 10 cloves of garlic.
Also, add 3 tbsp or to taste homemade chole masala.
Once the curry comes to a boil, reduce the heat and cover the pot. Let it simmer for 30 minutes till the tomatoes soften.
After about 30 minutes, take the lid off and let it simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours uncovered. In the meanwhile, knead the bhatura dough so that it can rest in a warm place for a couple of hours.
After about 2 hours of slow cooking, the curry has reduced to a thick consistency. It looks rich and smooth. The onions and tomatoes have practically vanished. Check the salt.
To prepare the tempering, heat the remaining 1 tbsp ghee or oil in a tadka pan or a skillet. Add ¾ tsp cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Add ¼ tsp asafetida and turn the heat off.
Add the 1/2 tsp red chili (byadgi) powder, being carefully not to burn it.
Immediately pour the tempering over the chole.
Add ½ tbsp kasoori methi and 2 tbsp cilantro/coriander leaves. Give it a final mix.
Chole masala is ready. Serve with hot puffed up bhaturas. Enjoy!