Ramadan Recipe: Punjabi Choley a bold recipe for Ramadan
Combine chickpeas and pomegranate seeds with warm spices for a rich curry taste you’ll remember fondly.
Celebrate your lunch or dinner with a bold and full-flavored curry made with chickpeas. This street food is on every Indian restaurant menu and should be too. It’s a quintessential brunch dish and loved the world over. The combination of chickpeas with crushed pomegranate seeds and warm spices simmering in a rich curry is what gives this dish a unique flavor.
Memories of eating Punjabi Choley-Bhature (Bhature is the deep-fried bread leavened with yogurt) are quite vivid. It was hands down a favorite meal in our family! On occasions, I would also tag along with my mother to the heart of old Delhi, a place called “Chandni Chowk.” This place is no ordinary place to venture for the faint hearted. After all it’s the “most crowded place in India with a 400-year-old history.”
Chandni Chowk overwhelms your senses in every imaginable way. Picture hundreds of narrow streets weaving in and out like a maze, with shops and noisy shoppers on both sides and rickshaws hauling people and goods, moving in both directions. And in all this mayhem, choley bhature vendors set up to feed hungry shoppers. Memories such as these inspire me to re-create those tastes and aromas that are still so fresh and perhaps never forgotten.
So why not try something different but authentic and indulge a little.
*Note* The perfect sides to this dish- A deep fried, leavened or unleavened flat bread, plain rice, pickled onions, grated white radish, mango and chili pickles and a tall glass of yogurt lassi.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Sapna Kokal is a Dhahran food blogger on Instagram who is passionate about cooking and sharing delicious recipes with the world.)
Ingredients for preparing chickpeas
1 cup dried chickpeas
1 tsp salt
3 black tea bags (tied in a muslin cloth)
1 black cardamom
3 green cardamom
2-inch stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
6 black peppercorns
6 cups water
Ingredients for “basic masala” for chickpeas
2 tbsp ghee or olive oil
2 onions (medium to large)
2 tbsp ginger
4 cloves garlic
Ingredients for final cooking of chickpeas
2 tbsp ghee or olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 pinch asafetida (optional)
2 whole dried red chilies (optional)
2 slit green chilies (optional)
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
2 tsp roasted cumin seed powder
1 tbsp roasted pomegranate seeds, crushed to a powder
1 tsp dry mango powder or Amchur
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tbsp salt or more to taste
1 tbsp kasoori methi/dried fenugreek leaves
4 tbsp tamarind pulp or juice of 1 lemon (optional)
Ingredients for Garnish - thinly sliced onions, tomatoes, thin juliennes of ginger and green chili and cilantro.
Rinse chickpeas and soak in 4-5 cups of water overnight.
Remove the water and rinse once again. Use the instant pot or a pressure cooker to soften the chickpeas. For every cup of chickpeas, add 6 cups of water into the pressure cooker. Add salt and the tea bags tied tightly into a muslin cloth. This ensures that the tea leaves do not spill into the beans. The tea leaves give a darker hue to the chickpeas that is iconic to “Punjabi Choley”
Add whole spices (bay leaves, cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper) to the water. Bring it to a boil and close the lid. Pressure cook for 20-30 minutes or follow directions on the instant pot. Depending on the quality of the beans it could take longer too. Test chickpeas by pressing it between the fingers, if it mashes easily it’s done.
While the chickpeas are getting cooked, prepare the basic masala. In a pan or a wok with ghee, fry sliced onions, chopped ginger and garlic till golden brown (5-8 min). Add chopped tomato and cook till it softens (5-8 min). Add a couple of tablespoons of water to prevent the masala from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cool for 15 minutes and blend to a fine consistency and keep aside.
In a deep pan on medium heat add 2 tablespoons of ghee or oil. Next add cumin seeds, asafetida and dried red chilies. As soon as they start to turn fragrant and a shade darker, add 1 cup of the masala made with the onions and tomatoes in the above step. Stir well and add all the ground spices (except dried fenugreek leaves/kasoori methi)
Stir the spices and masala and continue to cook on low heat for 10 minutes before adding the chickpeas with the liquids. Cook for another 10 -15 minutes on low to medium heat. Taste test for salt & tanginess.
Add tamarind pulp or lemon juice to make it extra tangy. Using a potato masher type of tool, crushing approximately a half cup of chickpeas while they are simmering in the pot. This makes the curry thick while holding it all together. Leave on low heat for another 5-10 minutes for the flavors to deepen. Add some water if too thick in consistency.
Lastly add crushed kasoori methi or dried fenugreek leaves. Taste test again.
Pour Choley into a serving dish and garnish with thinly sliced red onions and tomatoes, cilantro leaves and juliennes of ginger and green chili.