The pairing of chhole and puri or paratha is a provocative one, comforting and satiating. It’s one of the easier main course dishes I prepare since in this case I use a store-bought chhole masala mix rather than blending my own as a shortcut. Opening that box initiates a startling and overwhelming olfactory and gustatory sensation. Don’t skimp on the cooking fats here; you need it for the masalas to find their way to your senses.
Chhole (Chickpea Curry)
- ½ pound dry garbanzo beans Kabuli chana or chickpeas, which is a little more than 1 cup. (Can also substitute 2 cans of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed)
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 6-7 whole cloves
- 2 dry red chilies
- 1-2 Indian bay leaves tej patta
- 2 inch cinnamon stick
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seed
- 1 large onion diced finely
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 tablespoons ginger/garlic paste (Or 5 garlic cloves
- grated or pureed combined with 1 tablespoon packed grated gingerroot)
- 2 roma tomatoes coarsely chopped OR 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 teaspoon salt add more to taste if using unsalted canned beans
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons chhole masala
- 1-2 teaspoons chili powder like Reshampatti chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- Wedges of lime and tomato for garnish
- If using dry garbanzo beans, soak them for about 10-12 hours with the baking soda mixed into the soaking water. You need enough water to adequately cover the beans.
- Drain the water. Add enough fresh water to cover the chana by 1 inch. Pressure cook for 3 whistles or 30 minutes (or according the directions on your cooker). Alternately, bring to a boil on stove in a pot then simmer for 2 hours. Drain well and set aside.
- Heat oil with ghee in a large pot on high heat (you can also use all ghee and no oil). When choosing a cooking vessel, note that the wider the pan, the more water evaporates during the cooking process.
- When the oil is hot, add cloves, dry chilies, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick. Fry these for a few minutes then add in the cumin seeds. Lower heat to medium-high if necessary to avoid burning the cumin seeds. Fry all the spices for 1-2 minutes further, stirring continuously.
- Add the onion and turmeric and stirring occasionally. The onions should sizzle and fry in the hot oil and lightly brown. When they’ve been cooking about 10 minutes or when the onions start losing their sheen and look dry, proceed to the next step.
- Spoon in the grated garlic and ginger, mashing into the onions with a wooden spoon. Cook for 5-10 minutes more. Lower heat to avoid further browning. The contents of your pan will begin to look like a paste.
- Add tomatoes and salt. Increase heat to high and let cook 10 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally, mashing the tomatoes a bit. You will begin to see the oil separate from the onion/tomato paste.
- Add the chhole masala, chili powder, and coriander powder. Cook 5-10 minutes.
- Add chickpeas. Add 1 cup of water. Stir well. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove cloves, cinnamon stick, and dry chilies if desired. Add salt to taste.
- Sprinkle with cilantro.
- Garnish with wedges of lime and tomato if desired and serve hot preferably with Indian breads.