Chole recipe – Chickpeas cooked in a delicious, flavorful & spicy gravy. Punjabi chole served with bhatura is a favorite among many Indians and is very popular in Dhabas and North Indian restaurants. The combo of chole chawal & chole bathura are simply irresistible & delicious.
Making a good chole recipe at home is quite simple and here is how to do it.
Preparing chole: Firstly chole is soaked overnight or at least for 8 hours. Then pressure cooked until soft. If using canned chickpeas, these steps can be skipped.
Choosing spice powder: A special flavorful spice powder known as chole masala is the key to this dish which infuses exceptionally good flavors. You can either use readymade chole masala from any popular brands or make your own as mentioned in the recipe below.
Make Onion tomato masala: Like most other Indian curries, chole is also cooked in onion tomato gravy which forms the base of this dish. So first the onion tomato masala is prepared.
Simmering chole in the prepared spicy onion tomato masala is the important step which makes the dish flavorful and delicious.
Amla or tea bags: Punjabi chole recipe makes use of dried amla which gives the dark color to the chickpeas apart from adding a slight sour taste.
Since I am not accessible to dried amla sometimes I make use of tea decoction which works fairly well without altering the taste of the dish.
However feel free to skip if you do not have. I have made this several times without the use of tea as I have young kids at home.
Using tea for chole
I make a tea decoction first and then soak the chickpeas overnight in it.
The next morning I give a good rinse and then cook them with fresh tea decoction which is optional. But if you fancy the dark color then yes use it for pressure cooking too.
To make the tea decoction you can either use 1 tea bag each time or half tsp tea powder each time. Do not over boil the decoction to the extent it turns bitter. Do not use tea powder that has leaves.
You can either discard the chole cooked stock or use a part of it to make the gravy. I use 2 tbsps of it and use additional water for the gravy.
Chole recipe | How to make chole
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
For cooking chole
- 1 cup chickpeas or chole
- 1 tea bag (optional) or 2 dried amla pieces or half tsp tea powder
- 2 tablespoon oil or as needed
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 2 cloves
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1 green cardamon
- 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste or grated ginger
- 1 cup onions finely chopped or 3/4 cup processed or pureed (2 no)
- 1 green chilli slit
- 1 cup tomatoes fine chopped or pureed (2 to 3 no)
- salt as needed
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) (optional)
- 2 tablespoon coriander leaves (fine chopped for garnishing)
- ½ inch ginger julienne (for garnishing)
Chole masala powder (or use any ready made)
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds or saunf
- 1 teaspoon cumin or jeera
- 1 black cardamom
- 3 green cardamoms
- 2 red chilies (less spicy)
- 1 small bay leaf
- 4 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 8 to 10 pepper corn
- ½ teaspoon anardana (dry pomegrante powder) optional
- ½ teaspoon amchur powder (dry mango powder) optional
How to make the recipe
- Rinse chickpeas in lot of water. Soak them overnight to 8 hours in water.
- optional – If not using dried amla, you can soak them in tea decoction made by boiling half tsp tea powder or 1 tea bag in 3 cups of water.
- Next morning, rinse them and add to a pressure cooker along with 1½ cup water.
- optional – Add a tea bag or dried amla or tea decoction.
- Pressure cook until soft for 5 to 6 whistles on a medium heat. Chole must be soft cooked and not al dente.
- If the chickpeas are aldente or hard, then pressure cook for 2 more whistles.
Making chole masala
- While the chole pressure cooks, make the masala.
- On a medium flame dry roast coriander seeds, cinnamon, cloves, black cardamom and red chilies until aromatic & deep golden in color.
- Remove them to a plate and add fennel seeds along with cumin.
- Fry until they both smell good.
- Cool all of these spices and make a fine powder along with anardana (optional).
How to make chole
- Add oil to a hot pan, add cinnamon, clove, cardamom and bay leaf.
- When they begin to crackle, add ginger garlic paste and saute until the raw smell goes off.
- Add finely chopped onions and green chilli. Saute until the onions lose the raw smell and get golden to light brown.
- Next add tomatoes, turmeric & salt. Cook until the mixture turns mushy and soft.
- Add the chole masala powder & red chili powder .
- Stir and fry again for 1 to 2 minutes till the masala flavours come out.
- You will also see the oil separating.
- Add the pressure cooked chole and 1 cup fresh water.
- If you have not added tea or amla to cook the chole then you can just use the entire chole cooked stock.
- You can also add 2 tbsps of the chole cooked stock for a deeper color in your gravy.
- Mix together and add more water as needed to bring it to a consistency.
- Cover and simmer on a low flame for about 18 to 20 minutes until the chole absorb the flavors of masala.
- When the gravy thickens, add amchur powder & kasuri methi if using. Turn off. Keep covered for a while.
- Remove to a serving bowl and sprinkle coriander leaves and ginger juliennes.
- Serve chole with rice, poori or bhatura.
1. Rinse chole very well in a pot. Then soak them in ample amount of water overnight or at least for 8 hours.
To get darker chole, simmer half tsp tea powder or 1 black tea bags in 3 cups water for a while. Cool and filter the tea decoction to the pot and soak them in tea.
Soaking for longer helps in better digestion and chole turns out to be soft.
2. After soaking chole will absorb much of this tea and turn darker in color. Discard the tea and give a good rinse with fresh water.
3. Add 1½ cups water along with dried amla or one tea bag. As i didn’t have tea bag I boiled some tea powder in the 1½ cups water and poured it.
4. This step is optional. Add a generous pinch of baking soda. Using soda helps to cook them soft and they turn mouth melting.
5. Cook till soft cooked not mushy. On a medium flame, I pressure cook for 5 to 6 whistles (without soda) or for 1 to 2 whistles with soda.
6. Once done, open the pressure cooker and check. The chole must be soft cooked and not remain al dente. If they are al dente or even slightly hard, cook them again for 1 to 2 whistles.
Making chole masala
You can also skip this step and use ready made chole masala.
7. While the chole cooks, on a medium to low flame dry roast bay leaf, red chili, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, a small black cardamom, green cardamom and pepper corn. When they turn aromatic, add cumin and fennel seeds.
Deep roast them until they turn slightly dark in color without burning.
8. Cool them and add them to a blender. If using anardana add it now.
9. Make a fine powder. Set this aside.
10. Add oil to a hot and add cinnamon, cardamom, a small piece of bay leaf and a clove.
11. Add ginger garlic paste or ginger. Saute until the raw smell has gone completely.
12. Add finely chopped onions & green chilies. I prefer to fine process the onions in my processor and use. You can also grate or puree and use.
13. Fry until the onions turn light brown and the raw smell has gone completely.
14. Add tomatoes, turmeric and salt. You can also add pureed or grated tomatoes.
15. Saute the entire mixture until the tomatoes turn fully mushy and the raw smell has gone.
16. Add the masala powder we made earlier for this chole recipe, and then red chili powder.
An addition of red chili powder is just to adjust the heat levels and color. so you may skip it as well.
17. Mix everything well and saute for another 3 to 4 minutes. Make sure the raw smell of the onion & tomatoes has gone by now. By then the masala begins to leave the sides of the pan.
18. Add cooked chickpeas, water as needed. I added 1 cup water. You can also use 2 tbsps of the stock if you like the dark color or use fresh water. Note that using the entire tea may vary the taste.
So I suggest not to use more than 2 tbsp of the stock. You will need to adjust the quantity of water as desired.
17. Once it comes to a boil, cover and simmer on a low flame for 18 to 20 minutes or until the gravy thickens & reaches a desired consistency. Add kasuri methi and amchur powder.
Taste the chole and then add more salt if needed.
Remove to a serving bowl. Garnish chole with coriander leaves and ginger juliennes. Serve with lemon & sliced onions.