Authentic punjabi chhole recipe?
What would you call authentic chhole when there are more than a dozen Chhole kulche walas selling delicious chhole, 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......
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.
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.
A free Sunday for a leisurely reading session or a nice outing without feeling hungry and grabbing a burger, makes sense for us.
Even chhole chawal with some vegetable added on the side is my favourite meal.
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 or dark anardana powder from the hills is a better souring agent for Chhole.
What do you feel ???