Monday, August 30, 2010

Chhole recipe | a simple recipe for that authentic punjabi taste...

Authentic punjabi chhole recipe? What would you call authentic chhole when there are more than a dozen Chhole kulche walas selling awesome stuff, each one is different from the other and each one is such that you can call as authentic as it can be. So for me chhole is authentic as long as it tastes 'punjabi', no wonder when I say this as I have tasted a few bihari and bengali versions of chhole and those have been far from tasting like chhole. Authentic punjabi chhole is something where the taste of chickpeas should not be overpowered by spices and the gravy should be thick and coating consistency and blackish in color, the chickpeas melting in the mouth and the spiciness just enough to complement the buttery textured chhole......

While the Bihari version is loaded with onion and garlic n garam masala (good to taste but not like chhole), the Bengali version which they do not call chhole but ghugni is ifferent too, I loved the ghugni with keema in it called 'mangsho'r ghugni'. I am sure there is a version including curry patta and tamarind and that too must be tasty but it should be named something else, not chhole. As there is Sundal, there is a tamarind-curry patta chickpeas too.

Coming to the 'chhole' chhole, here is my version which has fetched me many complements, people have been comparing it to the popular chhole walas of the city. Also, this chhole has been complemented for not causing flatulence though I do not add any saunf or ajwain to the recipe.

Cooking the chhole till it gets buttery is the key, the chickpeas should get cracked and should look like falling apart. Also, look for the smallest sized white chickpeas available, smaller the chickpeas tastier it is. Read on......


chickpeas/garbanzo beans/ kabuli chana 250 gm ( i use the smaller variety )
soak the chickpeas overnight
split chick peas/ chana daal 2 tbsp
ginger root 2 inch piece
whole dry red chillies 4-5 or to taste
coriander seeds 1 tbsp
cumin seeds 2 tsp
black pepper corns 2 tsp
bay leaves 2-3 nos.
cloves 4 nos.
black cardamom 2 nos.
amchoor powder 2 tsp or more if needed
salt to taste
mustard oil 1 tbsp


Mix the soaked chickpeas with chana daal, add salt to taste and cook in a pressure cooker with enough water to be an inch from the surface. 20-25 minutes under pressure should be enough for cooking.

Sometimes when the cooking water is hard the chickpea takes more time to cook so use filtered water to cook. Adding a pinch of soda bi carb helps to cook the chickpeas thoroughly, as they should get cracked n about to fall apart.....this is an important point while making chhole n should not be ignored.

Scissor cut the dry red chillies and bay leaves into very small bits and chop the ginger too. Now grind all the whole spices in the spice grinder jar of your mixie, adding little water to make a fine paste.

Heat oil in a iron kadai and pour the spice paste into the hot oil, fry till oil is released form the mixture.

Now pour the cooked chhole into the kadai and add water if needed, add the amchoor powder, adjust salt if needed and let it cook for about 30 - 40 minutes on low heat. This step is important too as it will lend a nice deep brown color to the chhole and the taste of the spices will blend well with the mushed up cooked chana daal, making a gravy of coating consistency. the chana daal gives a creaminess to the gravy and keeps it milder even if the masala looks very rich in color n texture.

Serve hot with sliced onions, bhatoora or kulcha is the bread to go with it but it can be enjoyed as it is topped with finely chopped onions and an assortment of chutneys, like a chaat.

Green coriander leaves are great for garnish, I do not use them in the rainy season so they are out of the picture...

We enjoyed it with fried bhatoore, made with yeasted dough, using half maida (all purpose flour) and half whole wheat flour, the bhatooras turn really fluffy and soft that way and do not soak oil like the traditionally made bhatooras........the bhatooras are not authentic for that matter :)

It is a hearty Sunday brunch and we are set for the day, there is no lunch on Sundays most of the times in my home. I make a large bowl of fruit salad for lunch if the breakfast had been lighter, but if it is chhole bhatoore, even the fruit salad is out of question.

A free sunday for a leisurely reading session or a nice outing without feeling hungry and grabbing a burger, makes sense for us...

Some people add a tea bag to the boiling chhole, that can be done if you don't have an iron skillet or kadai. Adding amla powder or even pomegranate skin can make it dark but they all hamper the taste. I have had good results with unsweetened cocoa powder though, using 1 tsp for this quantity. Try it if you like and tell me if you find it useful.

This recipe does not use onion, garlic, turmeric and tomatoes. The absence of tomatoes adds to the dark color too. Tomatoes are a common addition to chhole as many people in this part of the world cannot do without tomatoes, I feel tomatoes interfere with the taste of chhole and amchoor is a better souring agent for Chhole.

What do you feel ???


  1. bookmarked! Thanks for sharing; the description is mouth-watering too! :-)

  2. I use imli, to get the sour taste... Any suggestion/feedback for that....

    hmmmm, ek bechare hum aur itni saari yummy recipes.. bahut na-insafi hai ;-)

  3. Yes bechari akeli Puja....

    imli extract i like with chhole only if it is poured on top like a chutny , not when it is cooked with imli . Amchoor is what i like more but it's fine if you love the imli in it , at the end of the day we fine tune our cooking to suit our taste .......:)

  4. And anardaana is what most punjabis use along with amchoor , anardaana is a little grainy in the chhole n that i do not like ........ too many things that i don't like huh ... anardaana tastes great if it is powdered very fine.

  5. :) thanks... never tried with amchoor b4, will try that this time.... anardaana, matlab pomegranate seeds, fresh ones roast them and then use the.... am I right? hmmmm, not sure if I wud be able to tell the diff b/w khatta from amchoor and imli... cullinary skills ke us level tak pahunchane mein abhi time hai... picture abhi baaki hai mere dost ;-)

  6. ha ha.....anardaana is dried seeds of pomegranate , pinkish brown in color and it has to be ground to make powder.

  7. Liked your idea of using chana daal with chick peas.
    and I am the can't-do-without-tomato types
    :)thanks for telling me that chole can be made without tomatoes as well

  8. I dont mind whether you add tomatoes or its bengali, punjabi or gujarati.. as long you invite me over for your sunday brunch.

  9. Looks super delicious..will try your version !!

  10. This is really delicious and love the way you prepare them....

  11. Never made chole without Tamotoes..will try your version too..

  12. I love this recipe. Definitely making it, possibly this month. Thanks Sangeeta. Keep posting. :)

  13. Hi,
    Are we supposed to grind all the spices along with the red chillies ,bay leaves and ginger?


  14. Yes Vini ... the ginger , red chillies and bay leaves are to be ground together with all the other spices , wet grinding is what i mean ...adding a little water to make a paste .

  15. I finally ended up making this recipe Sangeeta and this is a keeper! Thanks again!

  16. Thank Shri....i love it when i get you all coming to tell me you made it and liked it. All kind feedback is always well appreciated.

  17. Am also copying the recipe for Priya's Bookmarked event tomorrow. Thanks in advance Sangeeta.

  18. First time here, Sangeetha ! and loved this post ! Do drop in @ my space when time permits !


  19. Cani use any other oil, if mustard oil is not availably?

  20. Hi Sangeeta,
    I made this recipe and it is truly easiest and best chole recipe i have tried. I an not for tomato - onion gravy chole but making them without somehow didn't work out either, and not surprising, I used only one black cardamom and no black peppercorns. This recipe seemed like a keeper just from reading it and it is!. Now while searching for non tomato chole I came across many recipes for pindi chole. What is the difference between chole and pindi chole?, some are called pindi chana or pindi chana masala or pindi chole but all used chickpeas. Thanks for a great recipe.

    Also read your recent post on lunch with chef Manish Mehrotra. He seems very talented. I was drooling over all your pictures...wish I was in India. -Neha.

    1. Hi Neha, thanks for the feedback. Glad you liked the recipe :-)
      Pindi chole is the dry version of chhole that is quite close to this recipe but uses a blackening agent like dry amla powder or tea leaves and anaradaana powder as the souring agent. Pindi chhole must be dry and wont use any chane ki daal.

  21. Okay..get it now. Good to have a dry version for travel. Thank you!. Happy Diwali to you and your dear ones. Your Choley and dahi vade are part of my Diwali menu. And one request, if you ever make non tomato-onion gravy Dum Aloo , please post that recipe too. I am searching for one. I know kashmiri Dum Aloo is made like that and apparently so is Bengali version. My husband is Bengali and his grandmother makes really amazing dum aloo with Luchi but can't seem to part away with her recipe. ;) Thaanks!. -Neha.

    1. Thank you Neha.
      I make this bengali dum aloo but it uses tomatoes (no onion garlic), you can skip tomatoes and add some amchoor if you like. Here is the recipe.

      Good to know my chhole and dahi vade is part of your diwali menu. Happy diwali to you too.

  22. Hi Sangeeta,
    I don't know how I missed this recipe on your blog. Thanks for sending the link. I read through it and then..made it!. It is delicious. I actually made double batch. One just like this and second one with tomato and yogurt mixed. I liked them both. I guess I am a bit obsessed with the yogurt addition because i can't get my hands on coveted granny's recipe. Thanks again. -Neha.

    Unlike one comment on the recipe, my dish came out looking quiet like yours. Here winter tomatoes are bland so I bought canned Italian tomato puree and they really are flavorful and bright red in color. But in all reality Italian tomatoes pale in comparison to real desi tomatoes picked out from remote farmland not specializing in mass production. So if you have right tomatoes, this dish can go from good to amazing. Just sayin!.

    1. ha ha Neha. I still would prefer this tomato deprived chhole as I love it this way. Just seeing this pictures makes me want to have it right now even though the picture is horrible :-)

  23. Hi Sangeeta,
    yes definitely choley with out tomatoes, never adding tomato-onion bhuna gravy again after trying your recipe, I meant tomatoes for the dum aloo recipe link you sent me. Everyone loved your chole and dahi vade for my Diwali party!. And I have some Punju friends telling me how as a gujju I can never out do their chole..basking in the glory of last laugh. Sending you a hug!. -Neha.

    1. Hugs Neha :-)
      So glad the recipes are helpful.

  24. Thank you so much for this recipe! Googling and finding your blog, saved me a trip to the grocery store for onions and tomatoes on an already crazy day!! I already pressure cooked the chole, and I was wondering how to cook it without onions and tomatoes. Than you for sharing your recipes. I will now be a regular reader :D

  25. Hi.......thanks for a lovely recipe.....I was looking favor for this type of recipe....and I got this........
    It's really very yummy.....very tasty......from now onwards this will be my family's chhole recipe........ Because emy husband doesn't live chhole with onion and tomato so every time I make it he was like hmmmmm chhole....and now he is like wow thanks again for sharing