I had a cousin who always without fail ordered Chole Bhatura every time we ate out. Every single time. She was mildly crazy about it and couldn’t have enough of it. I don’t know if she still orders Chole Bhatura. I haven’t spoken to her in years (don’t ask, it’s a crazy family). There were these exhibitions, fairs when we were young (probably still there, but we haven’t visited one in a long long time) with the giant-wheel (a huge merry-go-round), bouncing castle and numerous stalls selling vegetable cutters, roti-makers, steamers and lots of nifty little appliances that didn’t cost too much and everybody loved. There were also these food stalls that sold chole bhatura, huge masala sprinkled pappads and cotton candy. We always ate at these stalls and my cousin always ordered Chole Bhatura and when the Chole Bhatura was served I’d always feel that I should have ordered Chole Bhatura too. Even now whenever I see Chole Bhatura being taken to a table, I feel the urge to change my order to Chole Bhatura. Such is the pull of that lovely big puffed up poori and the spicy chole.
Chole Bhatura is a beautiful combination of fried bread (poori usually made of all-purpose flour) and spicy garbanzo bean curry served with sliced onions and lemon wedges. The dish is popularly called a Punjabi dish but I am posting it for the state of Haryana today hoping that my south-Indian status allows for slight generalizations and inaccuracies if any. Not ok with that? Explain Chennai Express to me and I’ll explain this to you. Please forgive if this is not asli Haryanvi chole, if it’s actually Punjabi chole or not chole at all. I am a Tamilian – nambiliki thoda thoda dhaan theriyum! I’ve used the chole recipe from the famous dassana’s vegrecipesofindia blog but I’ve still got to say it so that I don’t anger my Haryana readers.
But I’ve got to tell you this, I loved the chole. It was lip-smacking good and my maamiyaar (mother-in-law) asked me what went into the spice mix for the chole. I acted all cool and knowledgeable as if I’ve been making chole all my life, as if I’ve just stepped down from Dadar express. The secret is that I always take my time to memorize any new recipe before entering the kitchen. There’s nothing worse than referring to a recipe sheet while cooking especially when the maamiyaar is around. You’ll be stamped an apprentice (apprecent in Vadivelu lingo) for life.
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 45 mins
White garbanzo beans/White chickpeas – 1-1/4 cup soaked overnight
Ginger – 1 inch piece ground to a paste
Onions – 2 large chopped fine
Tomatoes – 2 large chopped fine
Kashmiri red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala powder – ½ tsp
Amchur powder – ½ tsp
Salt to tasteGreen chillies – 2 slit lengthwise
Oil – 2 tbsp
Ginger juliennes – ½ tsp for garnish
Lemon wedges – for garnish
Whole dry red chillies – 6
Coriander seeds/Dhania – 1-1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds/Jeera – 1-1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds/Saunf/Sombu – 1 tsp
Black Cardamom – 3
Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
Whole black peppercorns – 4
Cloves – 2
Bay leaf – 1
1. Wash and soak chickpeas in 2-3 changes of water and soak overnight.
2. Pressure-cook the soaked chickpeas along with a tea bag, a couple of black cardamoms and cloves till the chickpeas are soft, about 20-30 minutes. Discard the whole spices and tea bag. Set aside.
3. Dry roast the whole spices under “Spice powder” on low heat until fragrant. Remove from heat, let cool and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
4. Heat a wok/kadai, add oil. When the oil is hot drop in the chopped onions and green chillies and sauté till the onions turn translucent. Then add the ginger paste and mix well. Then drop in the chopped tomatoes and sauté till they turn soft. Transfer the pressure cooked chickpeas along with the cooking liquid to the kadai and stir well.
5. Add the freshly ground spice powder, red chilli powder amchur powder,salt and garam masala and mix well. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. If you’d like your chole a bit thicker like me, transfer a ladle or two of the chole to a mixer grinder. Let cool slightly and then grind to a coarse paste. Return this paste back to the kadai and stir into the chole. Simmer for 1-2 minutes for the flavours to blend. Switch off. Serve hot with bhatura alongside sliced onions, green chillies and lemon wedges.
Maida/All purpose flour – 2 cups
Yogurt – ½ cup
Salt to taste
Butter – 1 tbsp melted
Sugar – 1 tsp
Water as necessary
1. Combine all purpose flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add butter and yogurt and mix gently. Add water as necessary and make a soft, smooth dough. Rest the dough for a couple of hours.
2. Once rested, pinch big lemon sized balls of the dough and roll out each into circular discs. Deep fry in hot oil.
1. The tea bag gives the chole a nice dark brown shade. You may skip it if you wish.
2. If you like your chole a little thicker, just blend a little of the chole to a coarse paste and stir it back into the chole.
3. Make sure the oil is smoking hot before you slide in the bhaturas or else they will not puff up.
4. Do not roll the bhaturas too thin. Make sure they’re more or less a uniform thickness all over. This will ensure that they puff up nice.
5. You may gently press the bhaturas with the back of your ladle to help them puff up. Once they puff up, flip over and cook for a few seconds. pour a few spoonfuls of the hot oil over the bhatura after it has puffed up. I noticed this at Chole bhatura stalls in exhibitions/fairs where they make it out in the open. This I think helps keep the bhatura from deflating immediately and also gives it a lovely crisp exterior.