I just love chhole (chickpea curry). I have been having this dark-coloured spicy gravy since childhood and it is my absolute favorite. I remember my mother making it usually by late evening. We would have it as a snack – a bowl of chhole topped with chopped onions and coriander leaves with a sprinkling of lemon juice along with toasted bread. Then these same chhole would be cherished for dinner along with steamed basmati rice. Heavenly!
This takes a little time to cook but if you have the ingredients ready and at hand, it is quite easy actually. Always make more quantity if everyone in your house loves it. I make half kg. of raw chickpeas into a gravy. Yep, that is a lot of quantity but it is eaten in a jiffy. Here’s my recipe. You can reduce the quantities proportionately if you cook with lesser quantity.
½ Kg. raw chickpeas (washed and soaked in adequate water overnight or for at least 8 hours)
For the ingredients to be put while boiling chickpeas:
Whole spices: 1 large bay leaf, 10-12 whole black pepper, 5-6 cloves, 2 small cinnamon sticks
Tea liquor: I take 1 cup water and boil 2 tsps. of tea leaves in it. Then strain this liquor and use it. You may use tea bags or tie tea leaves in a muslin cloth. Do whatever works for you.
Salt to taste (2-3 tsp.)
For the curry:
3 medium onions sliced
2 tsp. ginger paste
4-5 ripe large tomatoes
3 green chillies (reduce if you want less heat)
3 tsp. oil
3 tsp. chhole masala or garam masala powder ( You can make your own. I bought some from Amritsar, and it is really wonderful)
3 tsp. coriander powder
3 tsp. roasted cumin powder
3 tsp. pomegranate seeds (anardana) powder
Salt to taste
Chopped onion, coriander and lemon slices
Use a pressure cooker to cook the chickpeas. It is faster and easier. Put in all the ingredients mentioned above for addition while boiling chickpeas. Put in 3 cups water and cook for 7-8 whistles till the chickpeas are cooked yet retain their shape. Don’t allow them to get mushy.
To make the gravy, take oil in a kadhai/wok. Heat it. Now add chopped onions and fry for a bit till they turn golden. Add ginger paste and fry for a couple of minutes more. Now tip in the tomatoes and green chillies and cook till everything is squishy.
I prefer smooth gravy so I blend this masala. Add this curry paste to the cooked chhole with the dark liquor. Add in all the dry masala powders. Cook and simmer for about 10 minutes. Smash some chickpeas with the back of the ladle to make the gravy thicker.
Taste and adjust seasoning as per taste. I prefer watery gravy that goes well with steamed basmati rice. If you are having with puris or naan, you can make it thicker. Enjoy your tangy spicy, absolutely delightful Amritsari chhole.